Manaus on Amazon, Brazil

Manaus is a large city in the center of the Amazon Rainforest located in northwest Brazil about 900 miles upstream from the Atlantic Ocean. It is also the capital of the state of Amazonas. You will enjoy exploring the historic sites of Manaus created during the height of the rubber boom.

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1 Introduction to Manaus, Brazil

Imagine being a Portuguese explorer and sailing from the Atlantic Ocean 900 miles upstream along an unknown river. That is how Manaus was founded in 1669. Your journey by cruise ship to the Port of Manaus is considerably more comfortable. You are now in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest (Floresta Amazônica in Portuguese). The capital city of Amazonas has a population exceeding two million Manausense. Most tourists to Manaus divide their time between touring the city and a boat ride on the Amazon around the convergence of the Negro and Solimões Rivers. In the background is an 11,800 foot cable-stayed bridge named Ponte Rio Negro.

Porto de Manaus, R. Taqueirinha, 25 - Centro, Manaus - AM, 69005-420, Brazil
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2 Customs House in Manaus, Brazil

After disembarking from your cruise ship at Porto Flutuante, you will immediately see this exquisite Custom House (Alfândega in Portuguese). It was constructed in 1909 with bricks imported from England. Some people claim this was the first prefabricated building in South America. A few steps away brings you to the core of the city. Many seasoned tourists love exploring ports independently. But in Manaus, you are encouraged to sign up for a ship excursion or arrange for a professional guide in advance. This assures a safe and enjoyable experience.

Av. Floriano Peixoto, 37-31 – Centro, Manaus - AM, 69005-070, Brazil
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3 Metropolitan Cathedral of Manaus in Manaus, Brazil

Carmelite missionaries arrived in Manaus in 1696. They soon built a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Conception. It was replaced during the late 18th century and destroyed by fire in 1850. The current Catedral Nossa Senhora da Conceição was finished in 1878. In 1946, it became the Mother Church for the Roman Catholic Diocese of the Amazon. In 1980, Metropolitan Cathedral of Manaus was honored to welcome Pope John Paul II. You might hear the cathedral called either Igreja Matriz or Matriz Church.

Igreja Matriz, Av. Marquês de Santa Cruz - Centro, Manaus - AM, 69005-000, Brazil
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4 Altar Sculpture in Metropolitan Cathedral of Manaus in Manaus, Brazil

On the altar of Metropolitan Cathedral of Manaus is this religious statue of the church’s namesake: Our Lady of the Conception. The sculpture was created in Spain during the second half of the 19th century. It is encircled by lioz stone imported from Lisbon. She is the Patroness of Amazonas. Every December 8, her feast day is celebrated with a procession.

Igreja Matriz, Av. Marquês de Santa Cruz - Centro, Manaus - AM, 69005-000, Brazil
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5 Fountain at Matriz Square in Manaus, Brazil

At the base of the sweeping double staircase leading to the Metropolitan Cathedral of Manaus is Matriz Square. This center of Manaus was once encircled by grand commercial buildings. Today, it tends to be overwhelmed with traffic and people but has significantly improved since its restoration. The centerpiece of Praça da Matriz is a cast-iron fountain manufactured in Glasgow and installed in 1896. On top is Venus balancing an urn. Beneath the Roman goddess are sculptures of eagles and joyful boys. The bas-reliefs at the base portray tritons. These half-man, half-fish were the Greek messengers of the sea.

Parque da Matriz, Av. Eduardo Ribeiro - Centro, Manaus - AM, 69005-000, Brazil
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6 Municipal Clock in Manaus, Brazil

The Municipal Clock is on Avenida Eduardo Ribeiro adjacent to Matriz Square. It was imported from Switzerland and erected in 1927. It glistens after a restoration in 2017. It bears a Latin inscription. The loose translation is: “Everything at a time to end, even the life.”

Relógio Municipal, Av. Eduardo Ribeiro - Centro, Manaus - AM, 69005-000, Brazil
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7 Obelisk in Manaus, Brazil

The 13 foot Obelisco was erected at the entrance of Matriz Square in 1948 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of being declared a city. In 1848, the town’s previous name of Manaus was changed to Cidade da Barra do Rio Negro. In Portuguese, this means City of the Margins of the Black River. Now that was a mouthful! Eight years later, the city reverted back to being called Manaus.

Obelisco, Av. Eduardo Ribeiro - Centro, Manaus - AM, 69005-000, Brazil
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8 Main Pavilion of Adolpho Lisboa Market in Manaus, Brazil

Soon after the Amazon Basin rubber boom began in 1879, the population of Manaus swelled with European entrepreneurs eager to cash in on the high demand and prices of natural rubber. It quickly became apparent the city’s markets were inadequate and below Europe’s hygiene standards. In response, Mayor Adolpho Lisboa commissioned a municipal marketplace bearing his name. This main pavilion opened in 1883. Mercadão is listed by the National Historic Heritage of Brazil.

Lisbon, R. dos Barés, 46 - Centro, Manaus - AM, 69009-365, Brazil
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9 Iron Market at Adolpho Lisboa Market in Manaus, Brazil

By the end of the 19th century, Adolpho Lisboa Market needed more space. So, a new pavilion was added in 1908. The Art Nouveau design of Iron Market was inspired by the former Les Halles market in Paris. All of the construction materials, including the cast and wrought iron plus stained glass, were imported from France. This riverside marketplace measures 148 feet long and 139 feet wide. It is a charming place to shop or to grab a meal at the Coreto Peixaria restaurant.

Lisbon, R. dos Barés, 46 - Centro, Manaus - AM, 69009-365, Brazil
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10 Boats Docked at Port of Manaus in Manaus, Brazil

The primary means of transportation to and from Manaus is by boat. The Port of Manaus is cluttered with them. They range from big commercial vessels and cruise ships to small, hand-built wooden canoes and rafts. In between are triple-decker and single-level riverboats. Some provide sightseeing tours. Most are ferries to transport merchandise for people living outside the city or in the rainforest. These vessels are at Porto Flutuante. The floating dock can rise or fall over 45 feet to accommodate the changing water levels of the river. Manaus also has the Eduardo Gomes International Airport. Forget about driving! Although it is technically possible to take the 500 mile BR319 “highway” to Manaus, the road is very poorly maintained and virtually impassable in places.

Av. Lourenço da Silva Braga, 2444 – Centro, Manaus - AM, 69057-050, Brazil
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11 Fish Market at Feira da Manaus Moderna in Manaus, Brazil

The Amazon River has over 2,000 species of freshwater fish. So, it is not surprising fish is a dietary staple of the people living in the Amazon Rainforest. Many residents of Manaus catch their own. Most shop at the fish market inside Feira da Manaus Moderna. According to a recent survey, nearly 62% say their favorite species is tambaqui. In second place are jaraqui shown here (12.8%) and coming in third are pacu (10.6%).

Av. Lourenço da Silva Braga, 700 – Centro, Manaus - AM, 69057-050, Brazil
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12 Produce Stand at Feira da Manaus Moderna in Manaus, Brazil

Several produce vendors are located inside and around Feira da Manaus Moderna. Some sell from established stalls. Others display their goods on rickety stands. The crops are gown on plantations, on family plots and in the wild. The rainforest is a rich environment for about 3,000 types of fruit and vegetables. Among the most plentiful are bananas, avocados, carambola, papaya, cocao, pineapple, tomatoes and coffee.

Av. Lourenço da Silva Braga, 700 – Centro, Manaus - AM, 69057-050, Brazil
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13 Waterfront Fish Market in Manaus, Brazil

Feira da Manaus Moderna houses the well-established fishmongers. But nothing says fresh like buying the catch of the day directly from local fishermen. So, as their wooden boats tether along Avenida Lourenço da Silva Braga, the waterfront bustles with activity.

Av. Lourenço da Silva Braga, 700 – Centro, Manaus - AM, 69057-050, Brazil
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14 Manaus Banana Market in Manaus, Brazil

Bananas are not indigenous to Brazil. Since they were imported by the Portuguese in the 16th century, the crop has flourished. Brazil is now the second-largest producer in the world. Manaus has a dedicated marketplace for bananas. Its name Feira da Banana means banana fair. It is fun watching huge stems of the fruit being thrown off trucks into the waiting hands of workers who stack them high in the aisles. 50,000 bunches of bananas arrive every day. Approximately 85% of the region’s crop are sold here each year.

Feira da Banana, Rua Pedro Botelho - Centro, Manaus - 69005-100, Brazil
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15 Amazon Theatre in Manaus, Brazil

Teatro Amazonas is undeniably the cultural and architectural highlight of Manaus. The sweeping double staircase invites the visitor toward the elegant, mauve-colored Renaissance Revival façade. The opera house was funded when the city was rich from rubber exports. From its opening night in January of 1897, this European-style performing arts venue was a success among the social elite and plantation barons. But soon after artificial rubber was invented in 1909, the economy of Manaus crashed, the wealthy left and Amazon Theatre closed. It remained vacant for nearly 90 years until refurbished in 2001.

Teatro Amazonas, Avenida Eduardo Ribeiro - Centro, Manaus - AM, 69025-140, Brazil
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16 Orchestra Rehearsing inside Amazon Theatre in Manaus, Brazil

Tours inside Teatro Amazonas are available and highly recommended. As you walk inside the main auditorium, you will be impressed by the four, wave-shaped seating tiers accented with nearly 200 chandeliers. Look up and admire the ceiling paintings by Domenico de Angelis the Younger. If you are lucky, the 54-member Amazonas Philharmonic Orchestra will be rehearsing on the 35 foot wide stage. The acoustics and ambiance inside Amazon Theatre are spectacular.

Teatro Amazonas, Avenida Eduardo Ribeiro - Centro, Manaus - AM, 69025-140, Brazil
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17 Opening of the Ports Monument in Manaus, Brazil

In the center of Praça São Sebastião (Saint Sebastian Square) is the Opening of the Ports Monument. As the name suggests, Monumento à Abertura dos Portos was erected to celebrate the start of foreign trade in Manaus in 1866. At the base of this granite and Carrara marble commemoration are four ship prows. They represent Europe, Asia, America and Africa. On top is Mercury, the Roman god of commerce and financial gain. In the background is Teatro Amazonas. The dome above the opera house is decorated with 36,000 ceramic titles portraying the colors of Brazil’s flag.

Praça São Sebastião, Rua 10 de Julho - Centro, Manaus - AM, 69010-060, Brazil
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18 Wave Mosaic in St. Sebastian Square in Manaus, Brazil

São Sebastião Square is covered with a stone mosaic called Portuguese pavement. These waves symbolize the confluence of the Negro and Solimões Rivers. The “meeting of the waters” is the start of the Lower Amazon River. This pattern was the inspiration for the famous promenade at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro. In the background is the Church of Saint Sebastian. Built in 1888, Igreja São Sebastião is the square’s namesake.

Praça São Sebastião, Rua 10 de Julho - Centro, Manaus - AM, 69010-060, Brazil
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19 Palace of Justice in Manaus, Brazil

Each Brazilian state has a court of justice. Palácio da Justiça opened in 1900 to serve the judiciary for the state of Amazonas. Since 2006, this has been the Palace of Justice Cultural Center. It hosts performing arts programs, special events, art exhibitions and tours of the handsome interior including the old courtrooms. On top of the Renaissance building is a sculpture of Lady Justice. Unlike most representations of Justitia around the world, this version has her eyes open (no blindfold) and the scales she holds are not balanced.

Av. Eduardo Ribeiro, 901 - Centro, Manaus - AM, 69400-901, Brazil
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20 Rio Negro Palace in Manaus, Brazil

Karl Waldemar Scholz was a rich rubber merchant during the peak of the Amazon rubber boom (1890 – 1920). Like many wealthy European plantation owners living in Manaus at the time, he spared no expense building his mansion. Scholz Palace was finished in 1911, just when the industry began to collapse. In 1918, the Amazonas state acquired the property and renamed it Rio Negro Palace in honor of the river where Manaus is located. This was the governor’s residence until 1959 and the seat of the state government until 1995.

Av. Sete de Setembro, 1546 - Centro, Manaus - AM, 69005-141, Brazil
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21 Staircase inside Rio Negro Palace in Manaus, Brazil

After a significant restoration, Rio Negro Palace became a cultural center in 1997. The lavish interior and Beaux-Arts furniture reflect the wealth Manaus enjoyed during the early 20th century called the Belle Époque period. Today, this is where the governor greets and entertains visiting dignitaries. Most rooms are dedicated to famous governors of the state of Amazonas. You will enjoy touring the historic beauty of Palácio Rio Negro.

Av. Sete de Setembro, 1546 - Centro, Manaus - AM, 69005-141, Brazil
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22 Usina Chaminé Cultural Center in Manaus, Brazil

This structure was intended to provide sewage treatment when it was built in 1910 by the English company Manáos Improviments. After several frustrating years, the facility closed without ever becoming operational. In 2002, it became the Usina Chaminé Cultural Center. The name means chimney plant in English, a reference to its 79 foot tall brick smokestack. Usina Chaminé has temporary exhibitions of visual, cinematic, musical and scientific arts for adults plus a section designed for children.

Usina Chaminé, Avenida Lorenço da Silva Braga - Centro, Manaus - AM, 69005-015, Brazil
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23 Palace of Liberty in Manaus, Brazil

Since the Palace of Liberty opened in 1876, it has housed several top government functions. These included being the headquarters for the province and later the state of Amazonas, the offices of state governors and then city hall starting in 1917. In 2018, Paço da Liberdade began a new chapter as the Museum of the City of Manaus. The exhibits portray cultural aspects of the area. These include the impact of local rivers and its flora, the lives of indigenous people, artifacts from everyday living and key historical events. There is also a photo gallery of past mayors in Noble Hall.

R. Gabriel Salgado, 28 - Centro, Manaus - AM, 69005-340, Brazil
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24 Rio Branco Palace in Manaus, Brazil

Flanking Dom Pedro II Square and adjacent to the Palace of Liberty is Rio Branco Palace. For decades, White River Palace housed the State of Amazonas Legislative Assembly. This body moved out in 2000. Yet an office remains for the president to host official events. The majority of the structure is now a cultural center and museum. Most of the displays show the evolution of the Amazonas’ government since 1850. This state in northwest Brazil is geographically huge. Covering over 606 million square miles, Amazonas is equivalent to the 16th largest country by land mass.

Palácio Rio Branco, Av. Sete de Setembro - Centro, Manaus - AM, 69005-340, Brazil
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25 Bernardo Ramos Street in Manaus, Brazil

If time permits, stroll along the cobblestones of Rua Bernardo Ramos, the city’s first street. Flanking this historic center are row buildings once owned by Portuguese merchants. They are painted in a spectrum of pastel colors. The street’s namesake was the founder of the Geographical and Historical Institute of Amazonas. His extensive coin collection can be viewed at Museu Numismatica Bernardo Ramos. Shown here is the highly-rated Alô Café Restaurante e Lanchonete. This is a good place to have a casual meal surrounded by antiques collected by the owner.

R. Bernardo Ramos, 199 - Centro, Manaus - AM, 69005-360, Brazil
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