By Leila Monteiro Lins
Manaus, the state capital, was once a wealthy city. Its streets saw street lighting and streetcars earlier than London but it largely fell into disrepair after the Rubber Cycle meltdown (near the twentieth century). The accumulated fortunes were so great that the richest Brazilian rubber barons in Manaus used to light their cigars with bank-notes. In 1967, the federal government implemented a plan to revive the city. Manaus flourished as a city again, after the decline of its golden period, with the implementation of an economic model, the Manaus Free Trade Zone; which has resulted in over 500 high-tech industries, that generate more than half a million direct and indirect jobs – making this industrial production model the economic base for its more than 1.7 million inhabitants. The surrounding forest and the rivers charm all those who visit Manaus. It is an important city, rich in culture and history. So much so, that it can be dubbed the “Paris of the Tropics”.
Where to Go
The Amazon Opera House
This is the state’s main cultural heritage venue, a majestic representation of the golden age of the rubber cycle , with an impressive architecture. It is considered the fourth most comfortable theatre in the world.
Encounter of the Waters
This natural phenomenon takes place when the waters of the Negro and the Solimoes rivers meet one another, providing a unique, natural display of incredible beauty. The two largest rivers in the region run side-by-side without mixing their waters for over 15 kilometres, due to differences in density, temperature, and the flow speed of their waters.
The Amazonian craftsmanship represents one of the strongest traditions of cultural artistry in the region. The state of Amazonas has the largest indigenous population in the country with approximately 66 ethnic groups. In addition to the local, national and international fairs, the crafts of the Amazon have a home here, where you can find the most beautiful handcrafted pieces and where you can meet the craftsmen who made them. Craft Centre “ Branco e Silva”(1999 Recife St./ Suite 21).
Historic City Tour
A visit to the main tourist attractions of Manaus sends us back to the golden period of the Rubber Cycle and the landmarks that represent the development of the Green Capital of Brazil. www.amazonexplorers.com.br