To finish off the sequence “Relics”, some photographs and information about the hotel and surrounding area where the pictures were taken. Unusually, we have a mix of colour, black-and-white, digital and film images all shown together – reflecting the diverse photographic subject matter in this area.
The Hotel Relicário is a strange place. The lasting impression is of a mountain refuge crossed with an antiques museum. It is one of the most unique places that we have ever visited, and one of the few that we would without reservation (or possibly with) return to.
The hotel is set in a large estate alongside an area of natural parkland a few kilometres outside of Ouro Preto. The buildings were originally built to show off the collection of an antiques dealer, where prospective buyers could view the goods in a unique setting, even staying for a short time at the estate. Eventually, this evolved so that the antiques dealing was abandoned and the estate was put to use as a more traditional hotel – albeit one which inevitably inherited a large collection of antiques.
Over the years, various attempts have been made to expand the hotel, but their failure has left a surreal mix of abandoned buildings dotted around the hilly and wooded countryside.
As well as the main cluster of buildings, there is also a courtyard with a central bandstand surrounded by small neoclassic style chalets that can be rented out. Perhaps reflecting the original owners and builders, the chalets face inwards to the square, rather than out to the surrounding (beautiful) landscapes.
The surrounding area is diverse. As well as towns such as the UNESCO listed Ouro Preto, and curiosities such as the nearby mining areas, there also many areas to walk with some stunning scenery and plant-life. The countryside is an anthropic secondary tropical forest that is the result of clearance undertaken during the gold rush, but it is still a rich source for nature photography:
The hotel makes a unique and slightly surreal getaway from this, with its oddly styled decor and furnishings giving the impression of a kind of South American / Portuguese re-imaginging of Portmerion.
The hotel is currently managed by a very nice lady that runs the establishment in a very friendly and informal way that makes you feel very much at home. A very much non-plussed permanent resident of the hotel is a stray Italian dog, adopted while the manager was living in Europe – which very neatly reflects the character and sense of timeless otherworldliness of the place.
And so ends the last of this set of holiday snaps. The photographs were taken using three cameras: the Ricoh GR (street photographs, macros, landscapes), Olympus E-M5 (macros, telephoto and anything wet) and the Leica M7 (film). Now back in Barcelona, it is difficult to get back in to the flow of taking more pictures – for reasons that will shortly become apparent…