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January 21, 2008

Belem - Para


Belém - Pará - Brazilian Cities

In Belém people usually ask “are you going out before or after today’s rainfall?” Those who do not know the state of Pará might find the joke odd, but it is quite commonplace in the region. Due to the hot, humid climate, it rains practically every day. And however incredible it may seem, the rain does fall almost on a pre-scheduled time: around 3 P.M.


The capital of Pará attracts attention for several reasons. The delicious exotic fruit which can only be found there; the memorable aspects of native South American culture; incredible architecturally endowed buildings; besides an amazingly rich popular culture.

In the “city of the mango trees” – as it is lovingly called by the local population – part of Brazilian history can be seen up close and personal, especially after the renovation done on its plazas, parks and museums that date from last century. The Cidade Velha (Old City) holds memories of a time before the rubber cycle, which are visible in the narrow streets and in the large mansions decorated in their facades by tiles dating back to the XVII century. A stroll through the city can take the visitor in a travel through time itself.

In Belém, you can also enjoy the enchantment of the native forest. Made by inspiration in the “Bois de Boulogne” from Paris, the Rodrigues Alves Wood shows the visitor a little bit of the beatiful Amazon. There are wonderful places for strolls, picnics or simply to enjoy the cummunion with nature.

The city’s greatest attraction, however, is the Ver-o-Peso (check the weight) Market. The place has that name because, in the colonial period, that was where the merchandise, which arrived through the neighboring port, had its weight checked. Today, it is a place in which everything can be found.

Círio de Nazaré:
Besides the legends of the Iara and Vitória Régia, Belém is known for the Círio de Nazeré feast, which happens every year on October. The procession, which nowadays gathers 1.5 million faithful, is one of the largest catholic manifestations of the country. Touching the rope hanging from the platform on which is Our Lady of Nazareth (Nossa Senhora de Nazaré, in Portuguese) is the greatest possible proof of devotion to the saint.

Basilica of Nossa Senhora de Nazaré (Our Lady of Nazareth)

Built in 1852 on the exact spot where the statue of Our Lady of Nazareth was found by a farmhand named Plácido, the Basilica of Nazareth is in a harmonious combination of decorative elements spread out in all directions In its interior are 32 granite columns; 54 glass mosaics made in France that tell the story of the Círio; 38 mosaic medallions, produced in Brazil and in Milan: and 19 statues in carrara marble, some of them sculpted by Antonio Bozzano. On the artworks one can see baroque, classical and even renaissance-style figures. the Basilica is located in Justo Chermont Plaza.

Paz (Peace) Theater

The most important in the State of Pará, and one of the most highly –egarded in Brazil. Ostentates and Symbolizes the riches of the rubber trade’s golden days. Its project was done in neoclassical style. The construction began in 1868, but ended only six years later, in 1874. It has a 1100-place show hall, according to Italian theatrical standards. The house has a modern light and sound equipment, besides being climate controlled. It is located in Rua da Paz (Peace Street), Praça da República.

Emilio Goeldi Museum

It dedicates itself to the study of Amazon flora and fauna, and is recognized as one of the most important scientific research centers in Brazil. From there originated several studies about indigenous peoples,the region’s first inhabitants. The visitor of the zoobotanical garden will be able to know and admire more than three thousand plant samples of specimens that grow only in that region, besides 700 types of wood and a small zoo. The aquarium and the permanent exposition of artifacts, rescued by the institution’s effort in deciphering the region’s ethnography, are the complements of a collection that presents an evolutionary panel of the occupation of the Amazon. It is located in Magalhães Barata Street.

Religious Art Museum

It is the first of its kind in all the Amazon region, and is located in a group of buildings formed by the Saint Alexander Church and the Episcopal Palace, in the Old City Neighborhood – the nucleus that gave birth to the city. It has a rich collection containing more than 300 works of religious art, and is considered one of the most important in the country. It has specific areas for permanent expositions, Fidanza Gallery, museum Café an Art Emporium Boutique. It is located at Frei Caetano Plaza, Old City.

Ver-o-Peso (Check the Weight) Market

It was created in 1688, when the Portuguese decided to charge taxes over everything that came into or went out of the Amazon. Besides looking like a large market, the mix of colors, aromas and objects is not only interesting, but also folkloric. There one can find medicinal herbs, several regional fruit, craftwork, domestic utilities, meats, and spices. The Ver-o-Peso has more than two thousand stands and vendors all over the place; and it is close to the old Mercado de Ferro (Iron Market), close to the docks.

Rodrigues Alves Wood – Botanical Garden

Inspired on the bois de Bologne, in Paris, Rodrigues Alves Wood is a part of the Amazon Forest Preseved in the middle of the city. It is a 16 hectare area, in Almirante Barroso Avenue – one of the busiest in the city – which has 2500 species of native plants, an orchid garden, lakes, caves, falls and even the replica of a mountain. One can see small-sized animals typical of the region, such as monkeys, macaws and rodents.

Estação das Docas Complex

It reopened the windows of Belém to the Bay of Guajará. The restoration project covers the area of old warehouses of the Pará Dock Company. It is composed of metallic structures pre-fabricated in England that were assembled in Belém in the beginning of the 20th century. There are 18 thousand square meters of urbanized ares, with bar and café services, several restaurants, stores, tourism agencies, and banks, besides an auditorium and two memorials. The Port Memorial and the São Pedro Nolasco Fort Memorial. There is also a fluvial station and an extensive inner and outer area.

The craftwork most present in Belém are the replicas of vases, jars and other objects of local native South American ceramic pieces, a heritage from the original inhabitants of the Amazon. In Belém, one can find them in the stores of Presidente Vargas Avenue. There are also headdresses, bows and arrows, and woven baskets.

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