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Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Manaus

Manaus, the legendary "rubber metropolis", capital of Amazonas state and now a busy free trade zone on the Rio Negro, which joins the Rio Solimões a little way downstream to form the Amazon proper, lies 1713km/1064mi by river west of Belém, in the heart of the tropical rain forest.

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Teatro Amazonas

Front view of the spectacular Teatro Amazonas in Manaus.
The city's most famous building is the Teatro Amazonas (opened 1896; now protected as a national monument) - an Italian Renaissance building in the heart of the primeval forest. Its 700 seats are covered in red velvet, the doorways are of Italian marble and the staircase of English wrought-iron. The theatre has 198 chandeliers, including 32 of Murano glass. The curtain depicts the junction of the Rio Negro and the Solimões to form the Amazon.
The dome was originally faced with 36,000 tiles imported from Germany at the beginning of the 20th century.
The theatre was restored between 1988 and 1990.

Cais Flutuante

The 1313m/1436yd long Cais Flutuante (Floating Quay) on the Rio Negro was built by British engineers.

Custom House

The Alfândega (Custom House) was imported from Britain in prefabricated form and erected in Mamaus in 1902. Both are protected as national monuments.

Market Hall

The Mercado Municipal (Municipal Market), also protected as a national monument, stands on the bank of the Rio Negro, between the Floating Quay and the Igarapé dos Educandos. With its iron framework, made in Gustave Eiffel's Paris workshop, and stained glass windows it is modeled on the old Halles in Paris.

Cathedral

The Cathedral was built in 1875, the church of São Sebastião in 1859; the nave has paintings by Domenico de Angelis.

Palácio Rio Negro

The beautiful Palacio Rio Negro in Manaus.
The handsome Palácio Rio Negro, once the residence of a German rubber merchant named Waldemar Scholtz, is now the seat of the State Government of Amazonas.

Reservatório de Mocó

The Reservatório de Mocó (Cotton Store: mocó is a species of cotton prized for its silky fibers) was the work of British builders (1899).

Museum of the Indian

The Museu do Indio has a collection of over 3000 objects illustrating the culture and way of life of Indian tribes which live, or lived, on the upper course of the Rio Negro. Here too Indian craft products are on sale; they may also be bought in the FUNAI shop opposite the Amazonas Hotel.
Address: Rua Duque de Caxias 296, Brazil

Museum of Man of the North

Museu do Homem do Norte
The Museu do Homem do Norte (Museum of Man of the North), an ethnographic museum of northern Brazil has extensive collections of material on regional culture and folk traditions and a specialized bookshop. There are also rooms devoted to the display and sale of local craft products.

Beaches

The river beaches round Manaus should be visited between July and November, when the water level is low. The best known are the Praia da Ponta Negra (18km/11mi from the city on the Rio Negro) and the Praia do Tupé (1 hour from Manaus by boat), a nature reserve.

Zoo

Manaus Zoo, 13km/8mi from the city on the Estrada da Ponta Grande, contains 300 animals of the Amazon region.

Surroundings

Boat Trips

A boat trip is the best way of seeing three different areas which are traversed by a complicated network of rivers, igarapés and lakes: the Rio Negro area, the Solimões area and, beyond the "Encontro das Aguas", the Amazon area. The best time for such a trip is between September and November, when the rivers and lakes are low; and this is also the best season for fishing for pirarucu, tambaqui and other local species. The trips last between two days and a week. Information from local tourist offices.

Primeval Forest

In recent years there have been increasing numbers of camps in the primeval forest and on the banks of rivers, where visitors can spend a few days

and become better acquainted with the fauna and flora of Amazonia. The camps are mostly near major tourist attractions (igarapés, lakes, nature reserves).

Encontro das Aguas

One sight which is a must for all visitors to Manaus is the very impressive Encontro das Aguas ("Meeting of the Waters"), some 20km/12.4mi south-east of the city. This is the spot where the dark-colored water of the Rio Negro joins the light brown muddy water of the Rio Solimões to form the Amazon.

Anavilhanas Islands

In the Rio Negro, between Manaus and Novo Airão, are the Anavilhanas Islands, an archipelago of 400 islands and islets, with hundreds of lakes, watercourses, igapós and igarapés, extending for some 90km/55mi. The Anavilhanas Nature Reserve (area 350,000 hectares/875,000 acres) offers a complete cross-section of the Amazonian eco-system.
When the river is high, between November and April, the islands are almost all flooded, with only around 180 of them emerging from the water. During this period they are populated by squirrel monkeys, night monkeys and sloths, by a variety of birds, including parrots, toucans, woodpeckers and herons, and by reptiles and amphibians (caimans, turtles, etc.).
When the waters slowly recede the larger animals (jaguars, pumas, tapirs, deer) return. The islands re-emerge from the water, and with them the
numerous channels between them - a labyrinth of waterways by no means easy to navigate.

Cascatinha do Amor

1.5 hours from Manaus, on the Igarapé do Tarumã, is the Cascatinha do Amor, a waterfall whose water, deep gold in color, plunges down 6m/20ft on to white sand.

Parque Ecológico do Janauary

The Janauary Ecological Park (area 688 hectares/1700 acres), 1.5 hours by boat from Manaus, contains within its area solid land, várzeas (alluvial plains) and igapós (swampy woodland). Motorboats take visitors through the park's intricate network of igarapés. The luxuriant vegetation ranges from grasses such as canarana to giant kapok trees.
Victoria amazonica
One of the principal sights in the park is a lake covered with Victoria amazonica. This large water-lily (formerly called Victoria regia), found only in the Amazon region, has floating leaves up to 2m/6.5ft in diameter. Its flowers have a very short life: originally white, they turn purple and then in three days, wither to a dark red color.

Solimões Area

The main features of interest in the Solimões area are the beaches and igarapés on the Rio Manacapuru and Rio Mamori and Lake Janauacá, which can be reached from Manaus in 7 hours (120km/75mi).

Abufari Nature Reserve

South-west of Manaus is the Abufari Nature Reserve, which covers an area of 288,000 hectares/720,000 acres in the communes of Tapauá and Manacapuru. It is best reached by boat, since the Rio Purus, a tributary of the Solimões, runs through the area and the Rio Coari skirts it. It is also accessible by road: BR 319 (Manaus-Porto Velho), which traverses the area between Rio Madeira and Rio Purus, runs fairly close to the reserve.

Parque Nacional do Jaú

The Jaú National Forest, the largest forest reserve in the whole of South America (2,272,000 hectares/5,680,000 acres), extends along the Rio Negro around Novo Airão, some 250km/155mi (12 hours by boat) north-west of Manaus. It has an extraordinarily rich fauna, including such rare and endangered species as the manatee and the Brazilian otter (Pteronura brasiliensis). The park must be explored on foot or by canoe in order to avoid disturbing the animals.

Parque Nacional do Pico da Neblina

Some 500km/300mi farther upstream, on the north bank of the Rio Negro, is the Pico da Neblina National Park, established in 1979, occupying an area of 2,200,000 hectares/5,500,000 acres in the commune of São Gabriel da Cachoeira. Within the park, in the Serra do Imeri, which extends along the frontier between Brazil and Venezuela, are the two mightiest peaks in the country, the Pico 31 de Março (2992m/9817ft) and the Pico da Neblina (3014m/9889ft), Brazil's highest mountain.
Indian villages
The park marks the southern boundary of Yanomami territory, which extends to north-western Roraima, on the frontier with Venezuela. Among the native Indian tribes are the Tukano, whose villages are around São Gabriel da Cachoeira.
Rock formations
In the extreme south of the park, 1060km/660mi by river from Manaus, are the curious rock formations of São Gabriel da Cachoeira, the most striking of which is the Bela Adormecida ("Sleeping Beauty"). The river beaches of São Gabriel are famed for their micaceous sand. In this area are the largest deposits of niobium in the world, the working of which will, sooner or later, lead to the extermination of the last surviving Indians.

Refúgio do Maruaga

Presidente Figueiredo, north of Manaus, can be reached either by boat or on BR 174 (Manaus-Boa Vista), which runs through the territory of the Waimiri-Atroari Indians. In this area are a number of large caves with springs emerging at the entrance - a feature rare in Amazonia. The Refúgio do Maruaga, named after a warlike chief of the Waimiri-Atroari Indians, is reached by way of an unsurfaced road and a walk of 2km/1.3mi into the forest. The caves can be visited only with a local guide.

Parintins, Brazil

Parintins Boi bumbá
420km/260mi east of Manaus, on the island of Tupinambarana, is Parintins (pop. 66,000). Here in June is held an important folk festival which culminates in the performance of two singing and dancing events, the Garantido and the Caprichoso, examples of the Boi bumbá. The Boi bumbá is the Amazonian variant of the Bumba meu Boi, in which figures from local folklore such as Curupira, Iara and Boto Tucuxi feature along with traditional characters dating from the time of the "cattle cycle".

Ilha dos Papagaios

When the waters of the Amazon recede there suddenly emerges near Parintins the Ilha dos Papagaios ("Parrot Island"). Every afternoon around 5 p.m. hundreds of parrots flutter down on the island; their numbers reach a peak in November.
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