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.