Brazil travel guide



Manaus Travel Guide

Commercial centre and the Opera House

Municipal Park of Mindú
It is located in an urban area, in the November 10 Park district. It was created in 1992 to be an area of ecological interest. It covers an area of 330.000 m2 (33 ha) of forest remaining from the Township, used for scientific, educational, cultural and tourist activities. It is one of the last habitats for the sauim-de-coleira, a species of monkey that only exists in the Manaus region and is threatened with extinction. It is possible to walk safely through four distinct ecosystems in the park: land covered by secondary growth, firm ground brush, sandbanks and degraded areas that were illegally cleared in 1989. The Park also has a Library, with an information center on the environment connected to the Internet. It also has a parking area, amphitheater for 600 people, gardens planted with medical and aromatic herbs, orchid nursery, above ground trail and signs aiming to develop environmental education programs.

The main areas for vendor activity are the Mercado Adolfo Lisboa, Rua Marcilio Dias, Rua Marechal Deodoro and the streets surrounding the cathedral. All except the Mercado are outdoors along busy streets. Be prepared to bargain.

Mercado Adolfo Lisboa
(Rua dos Bares 6, 092-234-8441, dawn until about midday, free) is the main market of Manaus. The building, a wrought-iron and brick structure, replicates the original Les Halles market in Paris. Now it is filled with vendors of all types selling meat, many varieties of local fish, produce, spices, trinkets, clothing, medicinal oils, and snacks of all kinds. The meat and seafood area is particularly interesting, with lots of unusual offerings, but the lack of air-conditioning or refrigeration will probably limit the amount of time one might spend in this section.

Ecoshop, Arts and Crafts
In the Hidroviaria International Terminal (092-232-0409), is the perfect place to find high-end indigenous crafts. It's a little pricey, but the unusual selection makes up for it. The Forest inhabitants and members of Indian tribes produce baskets, hammocks, knick knacks and ornaments using regional seeds, vines, fibers and wood. The Branco e Silva Center for Arts and Crafts is a space where one can find arts and crafts stores as well as places to savor typical Amazon cuisine. Pieces made by Indians can also be found at the Indian Museum and in the Artindia store, which is maintained by the Funai (National Foundation for Indians) government entity.

Manaus Free Zone
Created to be a free trade zone in order to develop Western Amazonas, the Manaus Free Zone quickly became a center of intense commercial and industrial activity. Brazilian industries such as electronics, watches, bicycles, computers, toys, jet skis, glasses and motorcycles, that supply the internal market, are concentrated in the Free Zone. Commerce is vigorous, offering high technology products at affordable prices.

The Teatro Amazonas Or Opera House
It is the greatest symbol of Manaus' economic peak. It has 700 seats and was constructed with bricks brought over from Europe, French glass and Italian marble. Several important opera and theater companies, as well as international orchestras, have already performed there. Locateds at Praca Sao Sebastiao, 092-622-1880, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. daily except Sunday, $5 for guided tour only in English (no independent entry), is a spectacular monument to what money and serious taste can do. Built at the peak of the city's rubber boom, it offers what was then the finest in European craftsmanship. The lobby, opera house and upstairs ballroom are filled with Murano chandeliers. The seats, individual armchairs made from the local jacaranda wood and polished to a gleam, date from the opera house's opening but have, of course, been reupholstered. The opera house floor is laid with the same wood used in La Scala, and the ballroom floor is composed of 12,000 pieces of rain forest woods laid without glue or nails. Outside balconies are of Portuguese stone, the doors are Parisian originals, and the painted curtain is from Tiffany's. The unique dome was constructed so that the spectacular curtain could be raised and lowered without folding or rolling it. The theater ceiling was painted in Paris and reassembled in Manaus. It depicts what it is like to stand looking up at the Eiffel Tower. Be sure to check out the vents under alternate rows of seats to see what passed for air-conditioning in 1896. When outside, look for a few of the surviving rubber-coated bricks in the driveways (to muffle the sounds of approaching carriages). The public square in front of the building contains statuary from mythology and a huge fountain built to represent Manaus' trade with all four corners of the world.

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