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  • Belem, Brazil

    Belem Info and Miniguide

    Belem is the capital of the State of Pará, and is located on the southern branch of the Amazon River. It is the main point of entry to the Amazon region as well as an important commercial and economic center. During the 19th century rubber boom, the city served as the main port of the region and the famous “Ver-o-Peso” market, designed and built in England, as well the Catholic Churches and the “Peace Theater” are reminders of that era.

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    Introduction of Belem

    Belém is the state capital of Para which lies towards the North of Brazil. It is located at the mouth of the beautiful Amazon River. The bay of Guajará, on which Belém lies, is made of fifty five small islands. These are mostly uninhibited so all you’ll get to see is pristine white sand.

    History of Belém

    Belém was founded in 1616 by the Portuguese and was the first European colony on the Amazon River. It did not become part of Brazil until 1775. Belém is Bethlehem in Portuguese. The French reigned supreme in the Northern part of Brazil but were later driven out by the Portuguese. Subsequent to this the state of Para was set up.

    Getting to Belém

    Belém is well connected by air and land to Rio de Janeiro, Brasília and other important parts of Brazil. There are international flights from Miami and Georgetown as well. The Belém International airport also called International Airport of Belém (Val de Cans) is one of the busiest airports of Brazil, serving more than 2 million passengers every year.

    Transport within Belem

    Buses run to every place within the city. You can take them from the main bus terminal and get to any part of the city. There are taxis that ply from every point. Taxi drivers are a friendly lot and they play by the rules. Even during peak hours, the drivers can take you through the old city lanes to your destination.

    While walking or cycling can be a nice way to see more of the city, Belém is big and it would take a lot of time to explore it on foot. However, the older parts of the city have many lanes which are perfect for walking or cycling. Belém is both modern and traditional. The colonial connection is more than apparent. There are several old buildings mostly churches and offices which are very well maintained. The Forte do Castelo at the end of the shore line and Teatro da Paz provides a glimpse of the city’s past.

    Rodrigues Alves Wood

    Rodrigues Alves Wood is a jungle within the city. It lies in one of the busiest parts of the city - Avenida Almirante Barroso. Belém’s flora and fauna are displayed in full glory in this Amazonian microcosm. Macaws and squirrel monkeys are major attractions here.

    Emilio Goeldi Museum

    Founded in 1899, the Emilio Goeldi Museum is a major tourist attraction, which concentrates on the scientific studies of Amazon studies. People throng to see giant water lilies that have leaves which are pink underneath.

    Mercado Ver-o-Peso

    While in Belém do shop at Mercado Ver-o-Peso or ‘see the weight market’. You’ll find almost everything out here. The market gets it name from traders who would insist on checking the weight of goods on the spot. Since the time of Portuguese, the market showcases thousands of small traders and their stalls. Out here you can find local art and crafts, medicinal herbs, fruits, vegetables, meat and exotic fish and all kinds of spices.

    Círio de Nazaré

    If you happen to be in Belém on the second Sunday of October, then you will be enveloped by the Círio de Nazaré which is the biggest religious event in Brazil. Go ahead and participate in the procession that practically involves the entire city. This parade that passes through the streets of Belém is marked by colorful fire works during its entire duration of five hours. The festivities that follow Cirio last for about 15 days.

    Teatro da Paz 

    The theatre of peace or Teatro da Paz has a rich history and is a major tourist attraction. It was built during the time of the rubber industry boom, in the year 1878. The interior of the theatre is lined with beautiful paintings which are representative of the Amazon culture. The architectural style of Teatro da Paz is more Greek than Portuguese. The theatre still functions and has modern equipment. Guided tours cost $4 and last for thirty minutes. The theatre can seat 1100 people.

    Surrounding Beaches and Islands

    Boating tours on river Rio Guama are perhaps the best manner to see Belém’s natural beauty as the river winds its way through the city. Ilha do Mosqueiro is the closest beach from Belém and lies about 80 km away. Buses run at least every half hour from the bus station. You can also take a boat during weekends and high season.

    Ilha de Marajó is one of the largest river islands. It can be reached from Belém by boat and ferry. Marajó has two different land forms. The land is mostly forest, but some of it has plains with grasslands and shrubs. The forest lands or terras baixas is flooded by Amazon during rains and only the water buffaloes venture to graze on them.

    When you are in Ilha de Marajó don’t miss the Pororoca, which is a natural phenomenon where river water and ocean tides clash.

    To the North of Belém lies the village of Icoaraci, twenty five kilometers away from the city. If you’ve heard of Marajoara pottery, then you know why this village has become world famous. You can buy some art and take it home with you as souvenirs.

    Eating Out in Belém

    Nobody leaves Belém without tasting its sea food and more importantly the awesome ice cream. Must try foods here are Tacaca, which is Shrimp soup served very hot. The pepper scent makes it even hotter. Maniçoba is another popular dish made from bacon with leaves of manihot (cassava) a spice that is intrinsic to this part of the world. Also try the Tucupi which is a duck stew that is mainly eaten with rice.

    Belém’s famous ice creams can be found everywhere. These delicacies are loaded with fruits like Açaí - a kind of palm and Taperebá - a small berry like fruit. Pineapples and nuts are main exports of Belém and you will find these in abundance in this region. The best place to eat ice cream is Sorveteria Cairú, a local hotspot in Belém with several outlets in the city.

    Belem's Climate

    The climate of Belém is tropical. It rains everyday and there is a good amount of humidity all the time. Belém’s city area is tree lined so there’s plenty of shade if you’re planning a day out in Belém. The humidity can be extremely exhausting and dehydrating. You should carry plenty of water with you.

    Accommodation in Belem

    Most tourists prefer to stay on the Avenida Presidente Vargas as it is close to many tourist attractions. Some of the most popular hotels include Hotel Amazônia and Hotel Hilton Belém. Hotel Ver O Peso is located right across Ver O Peso market. If you are looking for more economical options then you can consider Hotel Palácio, Ver-o-centro and Fortaleza. Your accommodation can cost any where between $30 and $100 a night.

    Belem's Nightlife

    Belém is quite famous for its bars, restaurants and discos. At most places the liquor is cheap and the music is good. You can sample Latin American music and its contemporary genres while winding down with a glass of beer.

    Africa Bar is popular among tourists and the rhythmic music will certainly keep your feet tapping. But the night does not end at Africa bar. Ventanas Do Amazonas and Billar Bar are other chic and happening places in Belém. So just take your pick and party!

    Belém is a scenic city with a history that is enthralling. You will love the vivacity and energy that this city offers. It certainly is one of the best places in Brazil to sample tropical fruits and seafood and is also becoming a shopper’s paradise!

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