Manaus is the gateway to the Brazilian rainforest and has magnificent colonial buildings from a glorious past.
If you want to experience the wild beauty of the original Amazon, you will almost certainly start in Manaus, capital of the state of Amazonas. The gateway to the Brazilian rainforest is logically located in the middle of the jungle and is best reached by boat or by plane.
However, the capital, plagued by tropical heat, not only has rainforest to offer, but also some magnificent buildings from its glorious past. Until the early 20th century, the rubber boom brought wealth and prosperity to the region around Manaus. Unfortunately, most of the colonial legacies have fallen into disrepair and there are often not enough funds for the urgently needed renovation.
Nevertheless, a city tour of Manaus pays off before continuing into the adventurous depths of the tropical jungle.
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The Teatro Amazonas is probably the most famous building in Manaus. It was opened in 1896 and has since been restored again and again to preserve its old splendour. It still impresses with its columned façade and colourful, radiant dome.
Guided tours of the Teatro Amazonas take place from Monday to Saturday. The best way to visit the Amazonas Theatre is, of course, to see a performance. In addition to stage plays, operas are also performed here.
Article: Teatro Amazonas in Manaus
Igreja São Sebastião
The Igreja São Sebastião is located on the square of the same name opposite the Teatro Amazonas. It impresses with magnificent paintings and a life-size nativity scene. Many of the paintings inside were made in Italy and then transported to Manaus. The nativity scene with life-size figures was also brought to Brazil from Europe.
Article: Igreja São Sebastião in Manaus
However, the most important church in the city is not the Igreja São Sebastião, but the Catedral Metropolitana. The municipal cathedral of Manaus is located in the city's harbour on a small hill with a dreamlike view of the Rio Negro.
It was built directly after the founding of Manaus as the city's first church. Its predecessor dates back to 1695, when the Carmelite Order had a mission here.
Article: Catredal Metropolitana in Manaus
Palácio Rio Negro
The Palácio Rio Negro is the only completely preserved building from the time of the rubber boom. It was built in 1903 by a German merchant and was the seat of the governor of Manaus for almost a century.
Today, the Palácio Rio Negro welcomes tourists as a museum and cultural centre. It presents exhibitions about the Amazon region, including one of the most extensive coin collections in the southern hemisphere. In its rooms of white marble and dark wood, the historic palace also offers a noble ambience for concerts, plays and readings.
Article: Palácio Rio Negro in Manaus
Mercado Municipal Adolpho Lisboa
The Mercado Municipal of Manaus also dates back to the rubber era. The Art Nouveau market hall with its stained glass windows is located directly on the banks of the Rio Negro. It was built by Gustave Eiffel, who also built the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and opened in 1883.
The cast-iron building therefore looks European from the outside, but its interior undoubtedly comes from the Brazilian rainforest. Between tropical fruits and freshly caught fish, you can buy leather goods, Brazilian handicrafts and traditional remedies from the Amazon.
Praia Ponta Negra
Bathing holidays in Brazil don't always have to be by the sea: The idyllic Praia Ponta Negra is located on the banks of the Rio Negro and is one of our 10 most beautiful beaches in Brazil. During the day, it attracts beach holidaymakers to take a refreshing plunge into the dark waters; after sunset, it is known for its exuberant nightlife.
Article: Praia Ponta Negra in Manaus
Encontro das Águas in the Amazon Rainforest around Manaus
Most Brazilian holidaymakers come to Manaus to get to know the Brazilian jungle. The Rio Negro often serves as the first-choice means of transport to explore the fascinating biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest.
Another highlight on the Rio Negro is the Encontro das Águas (Meeting of the Waters). About 10 kilometres from Manaus, the black waters of the Rio Negro meet the muddy brown waters of the Rio Sõlimoes. The border between the two rivers is clearly visible over a length of about 6 kilometres.
Article: Amazon rainforest in Manaus
Manaus Botanical Garden (MUSA - Museu da Amazonia)
If you don't necessarily want to roam the depths of the rainforest, but still want to explore the Amazon, the Museu da Amazonia is the place to go. This botanical garden is located in the middle of the Adolpho Ducke Forest Reserve.
On its area of almost 500 hectares, numerous hiking trails lead through the lush flora of the Brazilian jungle. From the 42-metre-high MUSA tower, the view falls over the dense Amazon canopy, under which countless birds, monkeys, butterflies and other animals cavort.
Ponte Rio Negro (Manaus-Iranduba Bridge)
Manaus is home to one of the largest bridges in Brazil. The 3-kilometre-long Ponte Rio Negro connects the two banks of the Rio Negro near Manaus and Iranduba. In terms of cost per metre, this architectural masterpiece was the most expensive bridge in all of Brazil.
Article: Ponte Rio Negro (Manaus-Iranduba Bridge) in Manaus
Arena da Amazônia
Another architectural masterpiece in the rainforest around Manaus is the Arena da Amazônia. Although heavily criticised, this gigantic stadium was built in the middle of the jungle for the 2014 World Cup. The construction is based on the appearance of a straw basket typical for the region and cost around 200 million euros.