The capital and largest city of the state of Pará in the country's north. It is the gateway to the River Amazon with a busy port, airport, and bus/coach station. Belém lies approximately 100 km upriver from the Atlantic Ocean, on the Pará River, which is part of the greater Amazon River system, separated from the larger part of the Amazon delta by Ilha de Marajó (Marajo Island). With an estimated population of 1,439,561 people — or 2,249,405, considering its metropolitan area — it is the 11th most populous city in Brazil, as well as the16th by economic relevance. It is the second largest in the North Region, second only to Manaus, in the state of Amazonas,
Founded in 1616 by the Kingdom of Portugal, Belém was the first European colony on the Amazon but did not become part of Brazil until 1775. The newer part of the city has modern buildings and skyscrapers. The colonial portion retains the charm of tree-filled squares, churches and traditional blue tiles. The city has a rich history and architecture from colonial times. Recently it witnessed a skyscraper boom.
Belém, literally Bethlehem is also known as the Metropolis of the Brazilian Amazon region or the Cidade das Mangueiras (City ofMango Trees) due to the vast number of those trees found in the city. Brazilians often refer to the city as Belém do Pará ("Belém of Pará") rather than just Belém, a reference to an earlier name for the city, Santa Maria de Belém do Grão Pará, and also to differentiate it from a number of other towns called Belém in Brazil. It is named after Santa Maria de Belém in Lisbon, also better known by its shortened name, Belém.
Belém is served by two airports: Val de Cães International Airport, which connects the city with the rest of Brazil and other cities in South America, and Brig. Protásio de Oliveira Airport (formerly called Júlio César Airport) dedicated to general aviation.
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To use the public transportation is not that easy but you can easily manage that with your cantact person's help.
If you find yourself out late at night, lost, or stuck in the rain, taxi's in Belém are relatively inexpensive for short distances. Make sure you only take taxis from cooperatives. If you ask your hotel, hostel, or someone at the bar or restaurant where you find yourself, they'll be more than happy to direct you to the nearest cooperative or call a cab for you.
There are a lot of modern high rises, but between them particularly in Cidade Velha and Campinas there are a vast number of well preserved colonial buildings, from the rubber boom and earlier. Many of the grander ones now house official bodies and there has been a recent drive to preserve them. Belém has many attraction, here are some of many attractions the city offers.
- Estação das Docas (Revitalised docks with bars, shops, music etc.)
- Complexo Feliz Lusitânia (Complex Happy Portugal)
- Casa das Onze Janelas (House of Eleven Windows)
- Mercado Ver-o-Peso (See-the-Weight Market) - the old fish market a large and lively traditional market. Here you will find fish, fruit, vegetables, regional items and offers a good insight into traditional local culture.
- Mercado Ver-o-Rio (See-the-River), bars and a boating lake.
- Forte do Castelo The old fortress in the oldest part of town.
- Catedral da Se The oldest church in Belem.
- Praça Batista Campos (Batista Campos Square)
- Museu de Artes de Belém (Belém Arts Museum)
- Museu Emilio Goeldi (Emílio Goeldi Museum). The zoo.
- Praça da República (The Square of the republic). The main square with statues and the Teatro da Paz.
- Teatro da Paz (Theater of Peace), Praça da República. Tue - Fri 9 AM - 5 PM, Sat - 2 PM. Rivals the Manaus opera house as a symbol of the rubber boom's riches. Guided tours every hour on the hour last 30 minutes. R$ 4, Tuesdays free.
- Bosque Rodrigues Alves (Botanical Garden Bosque Rodrigues Alves). A large section of the the original forest (with some a lake, fish, animals and a cafe) perhaps a square kilometer in area ten minutes by car from the city centre.
- Mangal das Garças - the region's vegetation, animals and food can be appreciated in this large park for tourists just off the city centre