Manaus is the most important city in the Amazon river basin. The Portuguese adventurers who first arrived at the region built Fort São José do Rio Negro in 1669 where the city stands today, to defend themselves from the natives. A settlement grew around the fort and was officially recognised as a town in 1848. It took its name from the manaós people, the inhabitants of the region before the Europeans arrived. It is the economic centre of northern Brazil, and most tourists visiting the region come through Manaus.
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Safari through the Amazon rainforest
Located middle in the Amazon rainforest, Manaus is the perfect starting point to embark on tour through the biggest jungle in the world. One can board a ship down-town or rent a canoe and enter the jungle cruising on the river. The best way to do this, however, is to take part in a tour with a trained guide. One of the most recommended tours is navigating the Rio Negro to its confluence with the Solimoes River, where its dark water merges with other's, light-brown in colour, to create the Amazon river.
This is one of the city's architectural jewels, with an imposing dome decorated with the colours of the Brazilian flag. The materials for its construction were brought over form Alsace, its furniture from Paris, its marble from Italy, and was built between 1885 and 1892. It was officially inaugurated on December 31 1886. Since then, the Amazonas has hosted opera, classical concerts, ballet and other performances. The Amazonas Philharmonic Orchestra performs in the theatre regularly, so don't miss them if you have the chance to get a ticket!
Adolpho Lisboa Market
This ancient municipal market is still working as such and remains one of the city's most attractive sites. Built between 1880 and 1883 in a typical art nouveau style, its main inspiration was the Parisian Les Halles market. The building's metal structure was in fact fabricated in France, and then shipped to Manaus for assembly. Located on Rua dos Barés 46, it houses dealers of fish, fruit, vegetables, medicinal herbs and other regional products all under the same roof.
Manaus has a rich cultural history and many great museums that preserve an important part of the city's tradition. The Indian Museum's collection is one of the most popular, located at Avenida Duque de Caxias 296. With more than 3000 objects on display, that range from pots to clothing and musical instruments, it also features a very thorough and publicly available ethnographic file on the history of Brazil's indigenous population. The Museum of Natural History of the Amazon, with its large collection of native fauna and flora, is another interesting spot.
Located on the left bank of the Río Negro, Manaus has beautiful beaches that grow in width during the dry months (June to November) when volume of water the river carries decreases. The most famous beach is Praia Ponta Negra, which offers a beautiful view of the river, especially at sunset. Located in a quiet part of the city, its restaurants and bars make it an interesting choice for a night walk. Praia da Lua or Praia Grande are other commendable options.