Nestled in the heart of the mighty Amazon, the city of Manaus is the gateway into the Jaú National Park – but this bustling city reveals its own unique heritage and culture; these are the mist-experience cultural sights of Manaus.
Teatro Amazonas – Manaus hit the boom time thanks to the Amazonas rubber trade, and the most impressive legacy architecturally is undoubtedly the ornate Opera House which is pictured above. Once frequented by the most respected maestros on earth, today the best way to experience the faded glamour is to either join a guided tour or catch one of the many annual opera festivals.
Museu do Seringal Vila Paraiso – The setting amidst a former rubber estate is just as impressive as the engaging museum itself, which tells the tale of the rise of the rubber industry in Brazil. Wander the immaculately preserved grand townhouse, glide silently around the rubber-tapper shack and find out just how rubber trees are tapped.
Rio Negro – Head out onto the Rio Negro where it flows to meet the Rio Solimões to produce the most famous waterway in the world; the Amazon River. It’s a spectacular sight as both different coloured rivers meander for 18km side by side, yet never mix. One light and one dark, this is the archetypal "Meeting of the Waters" where legend dictates that the two never mix, making for an intriguing sight!
Palacio Rio Negro – Located in Manaus’ historic center, the former residence of Waldemar Scholz – a prominent rubber bacon from Germany – today hosts the city’s Centro Cultural. Since its inception in the ‘golden age’ of 1900, the palace has served as the Amazonas state capital, a governor’s residence and a private home. Since 1997 the Rio Negro has served as a cultural center with superb art exhibitions and musical concerts peppering the annual what’s on calendar.
Lake Janauari Ecological Park – Hop onboard a boat and journey about an hour up the Negro River to the diverse Janauari Eco Park, whose nine thousand acres are home to a colorful array of birds, animals and flora. A curious blend of dry and flooded forest, the highlight is undoubtedly the rare yet massive Amazon Waterlily which opens its resplendent petals for just three days – it spans nearly two meters across in vibrant lilac and finally, red.
Parque do Mindú – Manaus has its very own primate – the pied bare-faced tamarin – which sadly is listed as endangered. You can spot this little beauty however at the 33 hectare urban Mindú Park, as well as rare orchids and acai palms.
Sao Sebastiao Church – The stunning interior is the main draw of this handsome church – where the exquisite altar features dramatic paintings depicting saints watching over mighty battles.
Ponta Negra Beach – Manaus does beaches too! Admittedly not a patch on those in Rio, but locals and tourists alike appreciate this popular river beach. Hang with the locals and check out the bars and restaurants that provide a welcome backdrop.
Mercado Municipal – Browse Manaus’ main market – selling fresh fruit and vegetables, textiles and handicrafts – and is modelled upon the vibrant Les Halles Market in Paris.
Arena Amazonia – Admire the newly rebuilt Arena Amazonia which is preparing to host key matches as part of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. On 14 June 2014 England will face Italy in Group D, followed by Cameroon v Croatia (18 June), United States v Portugal (22 June) and Honduras v Switzerland (25 June).
Map Credit: Wikitravel
Image credit; Pontanegra CC-ASA-2.5