The place is full of life, densely occupied with people and products from the Amazon. The fish market, a steel construction imported from Glasgow in 1901, is the most memorable image of the city. Ver-o-Peso market is a historical site and was recently renewed.
In addition to the fresh fruit, vegetable, plants and fish brought to market by dugout canoe, you'll find some crafts from the Amazon, indigenous ceramic, items for macumba ceremonies, medicinal herbs, aromatic roots and potions... It's like a picture postcard where colours, smells and flavours are all mixed together into a scene that is varied and original. There are also numerous cheap restaurants where you can try some tasty local food.
The name Ver-o-Peso means Check out the Weight. This is because a few decades ago all products sold were weighted on the spot, in manual balances, and the buyer wanted to check out the weight to avoid frauds.
The market is on the docks and is one of the largests in Brazil. It has more than 2000 stalls. It's open all day, from 4am to 3pm, but you should aim to arrive early to get the freshest produce.
Estacao das Docas (The Docks) was opened in May 2000. The old harbour was transformed in a huge modern centre of art, culture, leisure and gastronomy with the intention to increase the tourism of the state of Para.
In the complex you find six restaurants with best regional food, bars, small brewery, ice-cream and confectionery shop, stalls and shops with crafts and other regional products. There are also cash machines, post office, cyber cafe, magazine and bookshop, travel agency, temporary exhibition with the history of port and urban archeology, art gallery and several halls for events: concerts, dance, theatre, cinema and exhibitions. Cultural program is vivid and varied. There is no entrance fee!
In the evening it is sometimes nice to walk along the river and observe the magnificent sunset.
Theatro da Paz (Peace Theatre) is the most important theatre in the state of Para and highly esteemed in Brazil. It was built between 1869 and 1874 during the rubber boom in the Amazon region and it's rare and well-preserved reminder of the time.
The theatre is one of Belem's finest buildings, built in neoclassical style. In its interior, the detail in the mosaic and parquet floors and staircases, the stenciled wooden ceiling and walls, the crystal chandeliers and mirrors, attest to the fame of this excellent opera house.
It's well known for having the best acoustics. The theatre has hosted Brazilian and international presentations of first-class. It is located in the heart of Belem and can seat up to 1100 spectators.
Half-hour guided tours (4 RS) are offered hourly from 9am to 5pm weekdays and 9am to 1pm weekends.
Praca da Republica (Republica Square) is one of the most attractive points of the city with lush of mango trees. At the square you'll find a large statue that commemorates the proclamation of the Republic of Brazil and several French-style iron kiosks.
On Sunday vendors, food booths and musical groups create a festival-like atmosphere that attracts crowds of locals. It's also a great place to have a picnic and stroll around.
Casa das Onze Janelas (House of Eleven Windows) was constructed in 18th century as a residence of a sugar baron. Later became a military hospital and in 2001 it was transformed into cultural space with the reference of contemporary art of north and northeast of Brazil. It hosts two principal exhibitions: Contemporary Brazilian art and Contemporary Photography of Para.
Interior of the mansion is filled with attractions and a terrace on the external part of the building has a beautiful view to Baia do Guara.
It is opened from Tuesday to Friday 10am to 6pm, Saturday, Sunday and feast day 10am to 8pm.
The complex also houses one of Belem's finest restaurants, Boteco das Onze Janelas. It has a nostalgic ambient that brings an imagination of european tavern. Boteco hosts various talents from the city. It gets packed especially on Saturday so it's advisable to come early.
Known primarily as museum, the Emilio Goeldi installation is actually more of a botanical park and ecological research centre. Recognized as the first research centre for Amazonian studies, the park is dedicated to the study of all things Amazonian, including the flora, fauna and native cultures. It was founded in 1866 and reorganized in 1890 by Swiss zoologist Emilio Goeldi.
Inside is a botanical garden with more than 3000 spicies of plants and trails to walk around and observe them. Animal habitats feature more than 600 animals, from manatees, anacondas, jaguars, giant otters, macaws, sloths to monkeys, and fish tanks have various species from the local rivers.
Museum has an extensive collection of Indian artifacts, including distinctive and beautiful pottery of Marajo Indians, known as marajoara.
Park also contains a cafe and a good gift shop.
It is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 9am - noon and 2pm - 5pm
Just across Belem, in the delta of the Amazon, there is Ilha de Marajó - an island larger than Switzerland.
For the car ferry go to the village Mosqueiro; the ferry boat to the island leaves at 6:00 a.m. and the trip across the Rio Tocantins to Porto Camara takes about 3-4 hours. Visit Joannes on the island, see some buffalos, hike to the forrest, or enjoy the beaches.
The ferry back from Porto Camara to Mosqueiro leaves at 4:00 p.m. (buy some fruit at the port before you leave!)
Mosqueiro itself offers a great deal for dinner or some gift shopping!
Excellent collection of Amazonian fauna and flora: many exotic and rare Amazonian animals - keep your eyes open, some of them are not kept in cages (like the sloth [Faultier] on the picture).
open 09:00-17:00, closed on mondays
For the best ice-cream in town go to "CAIRU" and try the local ice creams made of amazon fruits: açaí, cupuaçú, bacuri, uxi, graviola, castanha do pará, tapioka and so on.
You may try all of them before ordering (highly recommended!)
I was addicted to bacuri - but didn't like açaí and cupuaçú too much ...
Every evening starting at about 5 p.m. all piriquitos (small green parrots) come together at Praca Justo Chermon (Basilica de NS de Nazare). First they gather at the Mango trees around the square - probably to tell each other their experiences of the day (hell of a noise!).
Finally they move to the huge tree without any leaves (guess why it has no leaves) to go to sleep. After sunset they calm down bit by bit.
A great nature spectacle (for your eyes AND ears)! Check it out: they stay in pairs all life long.
Closing in on Belem , the last two hours of the whole boat trip down the Amazonas , we witnessed an interesting ceremony. From along the river bank on a stretch of about 10 km , many little paddle boats , often occupied with women and / or children came as close as possible to our gigantic embarcação while people from our ship threw tightly closed bags with stuff ( clothes ?? food ??) to them in the water..... These bags were received with great thankfulness and the people who threw them were not so well off themselves considering the way they traveled, which made me feel slightly bad for a moment but I had not known anything about this custom. Some brave adolescent kids even managed to hook their boat up to our ship under considerable risk and danger , then climb up the outer wall of our ship until they reached us travelers and offered fruits to sell...... I bought like three bags of a fruit I still don't know what it was but it was very tasty and made the kids day by paying him 5 reais....
The almost last impressions of the Amazonas journey were a wrecked ship ( pic # 4) and a little shack almost built on water in the middle of the river ( # 5 ) .....
One hour later we were on Terra Firma in Belem , a quick goodbye to our friends from the ship and off to the Hilton and back to civilization....
The 'Peace Theatre' was built in 1874 at the height of the rubber boom -- which also produced the famous Theatro Amazonas in Manaus, 900 miles up the river.
Belem's operahouse is less dramatic than Manaus's, but no less beautiful. Unlike that city's, nearly all the material in the building is of local origin. A big exception is the curtain, which was executed in and imported from Paris.
The beautifully restaurated area where Belem was "born" with the original fort with cannons pointing to the river , baroque churches , the city museum and government and administrative buildings is just a few minutes walk away from the city market and the docks. We visited the fort at night , having a posh dinner in a first class restaurant there and had a look at the churches from the outside. The next day we came back to visit the museum , wander in the nearby square and look at the government buildings from the outside.
An extensive visit to the whole area is highly recommended.
When I look at myself in these pictures at the museum I feel I look like , even though he probably never used shorts , Fitzcarraldo...... LOL...
Just like in Manaus we felt like exploring the city just taking a walk in some vague direction ( to the river , without city map ) and let the city soak in on us..... Here are some of the simple impressions we had on this nice walk . Pic # 1 shows the tiles on the floor on Praça Republica , pretty old by their looks and very esthetic in my opinion. Pic # 2 , a house with a tree growing on the balcony ( or roof..? ) , pic # 3 an old house that must have seen better and more glorious days , but fascinates in its morbid decadence..... pic # 4 , the beautifully revamped docks that were turned into a leisure area with nice cafes and restaurants , a place to meet friends and hang out.... and finally pic # 5 , the romantic me at the docks in front of a beautifull sunset .....
You Must program a trip to Algodoal Island!
There you will have a chance to see one of the most beautiful beaches in Brazil, a lake made of sweet water named Lago da Princesa, a very nice people and also will have a chance of dance/listen to Carimbó music (folklore).
Really Paradise on earth!