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Founded in 1616 as a Portuguese stronghold, Belém is the capital and largest city in the State of Pará in northern Brazil. An ideal launchpad for journeys further up the Amazon River, the city is renowned for rich history, colonial-era tourist attractions, and parks shaded by mango trees.
How to Reach Belém
Belém is located on the estuary of the rivers Guamá and Pará about 50 miles upstream from the Atlantic Ocean. The city lies roughly 1,820 miles from São Paulo and 2,020 miles from Rio de Janeiro.
By Air - Val de Cans International Airport (Aeroporto Internacional Val-de-Cans), seven miles north of downtown, is a major hub for international and domestic flights.
By Sea - Boats arrive at the port of Belém from cities such as Santarém, Macapá, and Manaus.
By Road - Terminal Rodoviário de Belém (long-distance bus station with interstate link) is around two miles east of the city center. Although public transportation is available, the downtown can be explored on foot or on bike.
Things to Do in Belém
Perhaps unappealing at the first sight, the city grows on travelers who linger longer.
Museu do Estado do Para (The Para State Museum) in the lavish 18th-century Palácio Lauro Sodré offers a glimpse into the city and state's history. It houses Brazil's largest framed painting, 'The Conquest of Amazônia'. The Museu de Arte Sacra (Museum of Sacred Art) displays collection of modern art and significant religious relics. The Museo do Círio explains the idiosyncrasies of Belém's famous religious festival, Círio de Nazaré.
Bosque Rodrigues Alves (a botanical garden) and Mangal das Garcas (an ecological park) are popular places to find solace from the hubbub of the 'Metropolis of Amazon'. Parque Zoobotanico (Amazon Biopark Zoo) houses Amazonian animal species and its Emílio Goeldi Museum exhibits ancient artifacts of Amazonian people.
Walk around in Cidade Velha (old city) to admire French architecture and watch a show in the 400-seat amphitheater at Praça da República. Opened in 1874, the extravagant Teatro da Paz is one of the largest theaters in Brazil and hosts free concerts and performances. The 18th-century Baroque Merces Church is a beautiful city landmark. Located at Guajará Bay riverside, the Mercado Ver-o-pêso - the largest outdoor market in Brazil - sells anything from exotic fruits to scented baths.
The Estação das Docas Complex, Basílica Santuario de Nazaré, Forte do Presépio (Fort of the Nativity), Forte do Castelo (Castle Fort), Catedral da Sé, and Ruínas do Murutucu are popular places to visit in Belém. Plan a trip to appealing coastal destinations such as Algodoal Island and Ilha de Marajó for a new layer of tan.