Manaus, Brazil

The Jumps and Starts of the former World Rubber Capital

back in the spotlight
The Teatro Amazonas shines in the historic heart of Manaus.
rubber memory
Caboclo Sôr Tom reconstitutes the centuries-old processing of the rubber tree sap.
boat jungle
Traditional boats from the Negro and Solimões rivers anchored in a dock in Manaus.
Side Theater
Side facade of Teatro Amazonas, the supreme cultural building of Manaus and the Amazon.
Middle of the Afternoon
Passersby stroll through the Praça de São Sebastião, which hosted the Teatro Amazonas.
"Armando's Bar"
Get together on the terrace of a bar owned by a recently deceased Portuguese emigrant from Coimbra.
Fluvial Romance
Couple talk about the floating platform that houses Bar da Denise and Sopão do Tio Jorge.
Au Bon Marché
Legacy of the era of wealth and luxury in the middle of the Amazon jungle, the Au Bon Marché establishment
Manaus Mercantile
One of the facades of the old Adolpho Lisboa market, next to the riverfront of the Rio Negro.
Assault on fishmongers
Fishmongers in the fish sector of the Manaus market, where the famous Amazonian fish are sold: pacu, pirarucu, tambaqui, etc.
A beautiful yellow customs
The elegant and historic building of Manaus customs, overlooking the vast flow of the Rio Negro.
From 1879 to 1912, only the Amazon River basin generated the latex that, from one moment to another, the world needed and, out of nowhere, Manaus became one of the most advanced cities on the face of the Earth. But an English explorer took the tree to Southeast Asia and ruined pioneer production. Manaus once again proved its elasticity. It is the largest city in the Amazon and the seventh in Brazil.

From the 12th floor of a Taj Mahal hotel, the horizon receded several tens of kilometers.

The Amazonas Theater was revealed to us in its centuries-old surroundings: the vast Rio Negro to the west, preceded by a curious mix of historic houses and Manaus, lush tropical vegetation from the Amazon and housing or office towers projected high above.

Far away, the modern bridge over the Rio Negro and a streak of marginal habitation crept in, the farther away, the more shapeless and cramped.

We weren't staying at that hotel so we extended the panoramic climb until later.

It proved enough for us to watch dusk set in, the square filling with people and becoming lively, samba or country music resounding, pine cone terraces flooded with beer and endless conversations.

Esplanade of Bar do Armando, Manaus, Brazil

Get together on the terrace of a bar owned by a recently deceased Portuguese emigrant from Coimbra

The increasingly Cosmopolitan Capital of the Amazon

These days, Manaus is this dammed, Euro-tropical world and much more. It expanded from its riverside and invaded 11.500 km2 of the Amazon forest.

A small entourage of intrepid colonists, fearful of the vastness in which they had been placed and, in particular, of the hostile natives, became a multi-ethnic and multicultural population of 2.600.000 souls delivered to the jungle, the urban one of Manaus, not the natural one in around.

Anyone who comes to these places quickly becomes intrigued about what made them possible.

After the restoration of independence and the old colonial rivalry, the Portuguese saw themselves as beneficiaries of the Iberian Union, which they took advantage of to take over the interior of Brazil. They also remained alert against the pretensions of their usual Hispanic rivals and those of the Dutch, these, with headquarters in Suriname.

In 1668, they built the fort of São José da Barra do Rio Negro, in the heart of the Amazon and next to the confluence of two of its most important arteries, the Negro and the Solimões. They built it in rock and clay with the help of natives and mestizos. Many ended up settling there.

Once Portuguese farmers and their slaves arrived, the population increased exponentially.

To such an extent that several missionary groups joined in the evangelical investment in the chapel of Nª Senhora da Conceição, now named patron saint of the village.

The Late Afternoon Entertainment at Praça de São Sebastião

On another late afternoon, the garden benches at Praça de São Sebastião are occupied by young, white-skinned friends, with almost black skin, almond-shaped eyes and lank hair, like those of indigenous people from so many native tribes in the surrounding jungle.

São Sebastião Square, Manaus, Brazil

Passersby stroll through the Praça de São Sebastião, which hosted the Teatro Amazonas.

A middle-aged Chinese couple scolds their children in Mandarin, they ignore them and scold them in Brazilian Portuguese. Several stalls at the mini-fair that were installed there are operated by small Indian traders or those with roots in the Middle East.

Bar do Armando, with its big heads from the Bumba Meu Boi festival and a large Portuguese flag, side by side with the Brazilian flag, among others, smaller, from other countries, belongs to the Church but has long been explored by a Portuguese family.

While serving beers at the counter, waiter Oriane explains to us more about how.

“Ser Armando passed away a long time ago. Now the daughter was left with the bar. But his family was real patricians. I believe they came from… what is it called… oh that’s it, it’s Coimbra.”

A cultural festival evolves in front of the theater. There, a youth choir group sings recent Disney musical hits: Rei Leão, Pocahontas and the like. Around this time, the mass ends at the Church of São Sebastião. Believers join the crowd and surrender to the profane call of the night.

As sacred as it was inconvenient, the priest had ordered an explosive closure of the Eucharist. Rockets burst above the temple, illuminating its pointed tower and the bells in no less hysterical peal.

In a duet, the roar of dry gunpowder and the chime of the belfry make the night a misery, especially the life of the choir who, with so much noise, sings pro puppet. Inside the theatre, on the other hand, a well-heeled audience delights, without interference, in a grandiose opera.

The Symbol of Wealth Theater Borracheira da Amazonia

The Teatro Amazonas has long been the Amazonian building of buildings.

The most important civilizational symbol of the entire state. And yet it was a mere Amazonian tree – the hevea brasiliensis – that made it possible and that, for more than a century, made Manaus an improbable “Paris in the Jungle".

Amazon Theater, Manaus, Brazil

Side facade of Teatro Amazonas, the supreme cultural building of Manaus and the Amazon.

In the XNUMXth century, several colonists and scientists had already noticed how the natives used the solidified sap of this tree to waterproof shoes and clothing, among other purposes.

The first samples arrived in France and its European use was inaugurated in 1803, in suspenders, bra elastics and others. Later, the American company Goodyear discovered the vulcanization process and rubber provided the tires for vehicles that Ford soon sold en masse.

After the Cabanagem, the population of Manaus had increased, but the dense and soaked jungle around, the inexistence of metals or precious stones and the 1600km located from the mouth of the Amazon and the coast prevented its development.

Until, at the end of the XNUMXth century, the culmination of the Industrial Revolution in Europe and North America demanded more and more rubber, a hyper-valuable commodity unique to the Amazon.

Rubber: the Raw Material that Changed the Amazon and the World

European and American investors flocked to the jungle of which Manaus was the only entrepot worthy of the name. They settled in the city or on farms. They bought vast patches of jungle that they filled with rubber tree plantations.

Eager for manpower, they forced the indigenous people to ensure extraction. In certain areas, the natives – little cut out for submission and repetitive tasks that made no sense to them – did not resist slavery, brutality and the diseases spread by the colonists.

Reconstitution of the rubber dam, outskirts of Manaus, Brazil

Caboclo Sôr Tom reconstitutes the centuries-old processing of the rubber tree sap

They died in their thousands. Indifferent, the new Rubber Barons limited themselves to employing a wave of newcomers eager to submit to those ordeals.

In 1877, a terrible drought hit the Brazilian Northeast, especially the state of Ceará. Many Northeasterners migrated to what they dreamed of as “Land of Fortune”. There they lived in precarious huts on the outskirts of the city and, given the illusory suffocation of latex, continued to enrich the barons. Manaus benefited by table.

The Afrancesada Ostentation of the Millionaire Manaus

It was promoted to the rubber capital of the world, it was equipped with electricity and many other luxuries, before many European cities. French and French manners were the ostentatious fashion of the time. Anyone who did not speak French or behaved like that felt diminished in front of fellow citizens.

When we walk through the old, cosmopolitan and overcrowded streets of Manaus, proof of this old Francophony appears, quite obviously, in the architecture and even in the names of establishments from other times.

Among others, a facade of a corner building, all lacy, gives us a beautiful, yellow “au bon marche".

Former Au Bon Marché store, Manaus, Brazil

Legacy of the era of wealth and luxury in the middle of the Amazon jungle, the Au Bon Marché establishment

Under the pseudonym Robin Furneaux, Frederick Robin Smith, a British historian, described the abundance of this period. “No extravagance, however absurd, stopped the rubber barons. If one bought a huge yacht, another showed lions trained on his property and a third would give champagne to his horses.”

As we are guided through the corners of the Amazon theater-opera, we understand better how the most lavish of these whims turned out.

It was proposed in 1881, in the middle of the Belle Époque. António Fernandes Junior proposed it, who had the vision of a cultural jewel in the heart of the Amazon rainforest and obtained approval from the House of Representatives.

The project was carried out by an engineering and architecture firm in Lisbon and construction was carried out by an Italian architect.

To match, he opened La Gioconda, by Amilcare Ponchielli.

Boats moored in Manaus, Brazil

Traditional boats from the Negro and Solimões rivers anchored in a Manaus dock

1912 – The Beginning of an Inevitable Decline

When the year 1912 arrived, the “Brazilian” rubber barons were unable to even witness the greatest of their tragedies.

Without anyone knowing, the English explorer Sir Henry Wickam moved tens of thousands of feet of the rubber tree to British territories with a climate similar to the Amazon, less isolated and with production costs, by comparison, reduced. The Brazilian monopoly quickly withered.

Addicted to opulence, Manaus found itself in decline and abandoned by all who could leave.

The theater closed for much of the 20th century, in the shadow of the collapse of lighting which, previously provided by generators, began to be fed, by hand and lamp by lamp, by fat from the infamous Amazonian manatees.

The resplendent houses were left with time and humidity, the same chlorophyll vapor that makes us sweat a good sweat as we admire the delicious decay of the city's riverside-port area: the bustle of the Adolpho Lisboa Municipal Market (baptized in honor of one of the most esteemed mayors of Manaus) and the strong fleet of ships that ensure transport along the river arteries of the Amazon.

Meanwhile, World War II broke out. The Nippon Empire occupied the main Asian rubber producing territories. Thus, it triggered a second Amazon boom that lasted little longer than the conflict and did not prevent the worsening of a demographic vacuum in the Amazon region.

The Free Trade Zone and the Recent Recovery of Manaus

Twenty years later, a Brazilian government more attentive and obsessed with the modernization of the country's borders turned Manaus into a free zone. It gave it strong financial incentives and made it accessible by a network of new roads. Thus, it generated an investment flow that attracted millions of new inhabitants, as well as investment, both national and foreign.

Manaus has confirmed itself as one of the most populous cities in the nation and one of its main tourist centers. It even proved to be important enough to host the ever controversial and wasteful construction of a new football stadium and assume itself as one of the venues of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Numerous industries have replaced the formerly exclusive export of rubber and now ensure the city's constant expansion.

Manaus Theater's New Fame

Theater, that one, regained its aura, in the beginning of the 80's. Around that time, the director Werner Herzog released it in his epic “Fitzcarraldo”. Now worshiped, the film was about Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald, an Irish entrepreneur and opera lover living in Iquitos, when this Peruvian city was also thriving on the export of rubber.

More romantic than entrepreneurial, Fitzgerald pursued a lunatic plan to build an opera in the image of the most prestigious in Europe in a jungle area with atrocious river access, inhabited by intractable indigenous people.

Without wanting to reveal the outcome, from that profitable era onwards, Iquitos evolved into the Peruvian rubber capital and, later, the Peruvian Amazon. Even so, today, it is home to less than 500.000 inhabitants.

Manaus Theater, Brazil

The Teatro Amazonas shines in the historic heart of Manaus

The only Amazon theater-opera South American is the Teatro Amazonas.

Passo do Lontra, Miranda, Brazil

The Flooded Brazil of Passo do Lontra

We are on the western edge of Mato Grosso do Sul but bush, on these sides, is something else. In an extension of almost 200.000 km2, the Brazil it appears partially submerged, by rivers, streams, lakes and other waters dispersed in vast alluvial plains. Not even the panting heat of the dry season drains the life and biodiversity of Pantanal places and farms like the one that welcomed us on the banks of the Miranda River.
Miranda, Brazil

Maria dos Jacarés: the Pantanal shelters such Creatures

Eurides Fátima de Barros was born in the interior of the Miranda region. 38 years ago, he settled in a small business on the side of BR262 that crosses the Pantanal and gained an affinity with the alligators that lived on his doorstep. Disgusted that once upon a time the creatures were being slaughtered there, she began to take care of them. Now known as Maria dos Jacarés, she named each of the animals after a soccer player or coach. It also makes sure they recognize your calls.
Curitiba, Brazil

The High-Quality Life of Curitiba

It is not only the altitude of almost 1000 meters at which the city is located. Cosmopolitan and multicultural, the capital of Paraná has a quality of life and human development rating that make it a unique case in Brazil.

Florianopolis, Brazil

The South Atlantic Azorean Legacy

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Morro de São Paulo, Brazil

A Divine Seaside of Bahia

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Sheets of Bahia, Brazil

The Swampy Freedom of Quilombo do Remanso

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Ilhabela, Brazil

Ilhabela: After Horror, the Atlantic Beauty

Ninety percent of the preserved Atlantic Forest, idyllic waterfalls and gentle, wild beaches live up to the name. But, if we go back in time, we also reveal the horrific historical facet of Ilhabela.
Ilhabela, Brazil

In Ilhabela, on the way to Bonete

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Goiás Velho, Brazil

A Gold Rush Legacy

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Brasilia, Brazil

Brasília: from Utopia to the Capital and Political Arena of Brazil

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Sheets of Bahia, Brazil

Lençóis da Bahia: not Even Diamonds Are Forever

In the XNUMXth century, Lençóis became the world's largest supplier of diamonds. But the gem trade did not last as expected. Today, the colonial architecture that he inherited is his most precious possession.
Itaipu Binational Hydroelectric Power Plant, Brazil

Itaipu Binational Hydroelectric Power Plant: Watt Fever

In 1974, thousands of Brazilians and Paraguayans flocked to the construction zone of the then largest dam in the world. 30 years after completion, Itaipu generates 90% of Paraguay's energy and 20% of Brazil's.
Marajó Island, Brazil

The Buffalo Island

A vessel that transported buffaloes from the India it will have sunk at the mouth of the Amazon River. Today, the island of Marajó that hosted them has one of the largest herds in the world and Brazil is no longer without these bovine animals.
Iguazu/Iguazu Falls, Brazil/Argentina

The Great Water Thunder

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Chapada Diamantina, Brazil

Gem-stone Bahia

Until the end of the century. In the XNUMXth century, Chapada Diamantina was a land of immeasurable prospecting and ambitions. Now that diamonds are rare, outsiders are eager to discover its plateaus and underground galleries
Goiás Velho, Brazil

The Life and Work of a Marginal Writer

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Pirenópolis, Brazil

Brazilian Crusades

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Pirenópolis, Brazil

A Ride of Faith

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Manaus, Brazil

Meeting the Meeting of the Waters

The phenomenon is not unique, but in Manaus it has a special beauty and solemnity. At a certain point, the Negro and Solimões rivers converge on the same Amazonas bed, but instead of immediately mixing, both flows continue side by side. As we explore these parts of the Amazon, we witness the unusual confrontation of the Encontro das Águas.
Pirenópolis, Brazil

A Polis in the South American Pyrenees

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Jabula Beach, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa
Saint Lucia, South Africa

An Africa as Wild as Zulu

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Braga or Braka or Brakra in Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 6th – Braga, Nepal

The Ancient Nepal of Braga

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Colonial Church of San Francisco de Assis, Taos, New Mexico, USA
Architecture & Design
Taos, USA

North America Ancestor of Taos

Traveling through New Mexico, we were dazzled by the two versions of Taos, that of the indigenous adobe hamlet of Taos Pueblo, one of the towns of the USA inhabited for longer and continuously. And that of Taos city that the Spanish conquerors bequeathed to the Mexico: Mexico gave in to United States and that a creative community of native descendants and migrated artists enhance and continue to praise.

Mountains of Fire

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Bertie in jalopy, Napier, New Zealand
Ceremonies and Festivities
Napier, New Zealand

Back to the 30s

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Homer, Alaska, Kachemak Bay
Anchorage to Homer, USA

Journey to the End of the Alaskan Road

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Margilan, Uzbekistan

An Uzbekistan's Breadwinner

In one of the many bakeries in Margilan, worn out by the intense heat of the tandyr oven, the baker Maruf'Jon works half-baked like the distinctive traditional breads sold throughout Uzbekistan
China's occupation of Tibet, Roof of the World, The occupying forces
Lhasa, Tibet

The Sino-Demolition of the Roof of the World

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Man: an Ever Tested Species

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Namibe, Angola, Cave, Iona Park
Namibe, Angola

Incursion to the Angolan Namibe

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Pentecost Island, Vanuatu

Naghol: Bungee Jumping without Modern Touches

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Portfolio, Got2Globe, Best Images, Photography, Images, Cleopatra, Dioscorides, Delos, Greece
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

The Earthly and the Celestial

Bagu, Kingdom of Pegu, Syriao
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El Nido, Palawan the Last Philippine Border
El Nido, Philippines

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Era Susi towed by dog, Oulanka, Finland
Winter White
PN Oulanka, Finland

A Slightly Lonesome Wolf

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Baie d'Oro, Île des Pins, New Caledonia
Île-des-Pins, New Caledonia

The Island that Leaned against Paradise

In 1964, Katsura Morimura delighted the Japan with a turquoise novel set in Ouvéa. But the neighboring Île-des-Pins has taken over the title "The Nearest Island to Paradise" and thrills its visitors.
Asian buffalo herd, Maguri Beel, Assam, India
Maguri Bill, India

A Wetland in the Far East of India

The Maguri Bill occupies an amphibious area in the Assamese vicinity of the river Brahmaputra. It is praised as an incredible habitat especially for birds. When we navigate it in gondola mode, we are faced with much (but much) more life than just the asada.
Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
Yerevan, Armenia

A Capital between East and West

Heiress of the Soviet civilization, aligned with the great Russia, Armenia allows itself to be seduced by the most democratic and sophisticated ways of Western Europe. In recent times, the two worlds have collided in the streets of your capital. From popular and political dispute, Yerevan will dictate the new course of the nation.
Matukituki River, New Zealand
Natural Parks
Wanaka, New Zealand

The Antipodes Great Outdoors

If New Zealand is known for its tranquility and intimacy with Nature, Wanaka exceeds any imagination. Located in an idyllic setting between the homonymous lake and the mystic Mount Aspiring, it became a place of worship. Many kiwis aspire to change their lives there.
Lonely Walk, Namib Desert, Sossusvlei, Namibia, dune base acacia
UNESCO World Heritage
Sossusvlei, Namíbia

The Namibe Dead End of Sossusvlei

When it flows, the ephemeral Tsauchab river meanders 150km from the mountains of Naukluft. Arriving in Sossusvlei, you get lost in a sea of ​​sand mountains that compete for the sky. The natives and settlers called it a swamp of no return. Anyone who discovers these far-fetched parts of Namibia always thinks of returning.
Earp brothers look-alikes and friend Doc Holliday in Tombstone, USA
tombstone, USA

Tombstone: the City Too Hard to Die

Silver veins discovered at the end of the XNUMXth century made Tombstone a prosperous and conflictive mining center on the frontier of the United States to Mexico. Lawrence Kasdan, Kurt Russell, Kevin Costner and other Hollywood directors and actors made famous the Earp brothers and the bloodthirsty duel of “OK Corral”. The Tombstone, which, over time, has claimed so many lives, is about to last.

Amberris Caye, Belize

Belize's Playground

Madonna sang it as La Isla Bonita and reinforced the motto. Today, neither hurricanes nor political strife discourage VIP and wealthy vacationers from enjoying this tropical getaway.

Candia, Tooth of Buddha, Ceylon, lake
Kandy, Sri Lanka

The Dental Root of Sinhalese Buddhism

Located in the mountainous heart of Sri Lanka, at the end of the XNUMXth century, Kandy became the capital of the last kingdom of old Ceylon and resisted successive colonial conquest attempts. The city also preserved and exhibited a sacred tooth of the Buddha and, thus, became Ceylon's Buddhist center.
Chepe Express, Chihuahua Al Pacifico Railway
On Rails
Creel to Los Mochis, Mexico

The Barrancas del Cobre & the CHEPE Iron Horse

The Sierra Madre Occidental's relief turned the dream into a construction nightmare that lasted six decades. In 1961, at last, the prodigious Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad was opened. Its 643km cross some of the most dramatic scenery in Mexico.

A Market Economy

The law of supply and demand dictates their proliferation. Generic or specific, covered or open air, these spaces dedicated to buying, selling and exchanging are expressions of life and financial health.
Busy intersection of Tokyo, Japan
Daily life
Tokyo, Japan

The Endless Night of the Rising Sun Capital

Say that Tokyo do not sleep is an understatement. In one of the largest and most sophisticated cities on the face of the Earth, twilight marks only the renewal of the frenetic daily life. And there are millions of souls that either find no place in the sun, or make more sense in the “dark” and obscure turns that follow.
Curieuse Island, Seychelles, Aldabra turtles
Felicité Island and Curieuse Island, Seychelles

From Leprosarium to Giant Turtles Home

In the middle of the XNUMXth century, it remained uninhabited and ignored by Europeans. The French Ship Expedition “La Curieuse” revealed it and inspired his baptism. The British kept it a leper colony until 1968. Today, Île Curieuse is home to hundreds of Aldabra tortoises, the longest-lived land animal.
Full Dog Mushing
Scenic Flights
Seward, Alaska

The Alaskan Dog Mushing Summer

It's almost 30 degrees and the glaciers are melting. In Alaska, entrepreneurs have little time to get rich. Until the end of August, dog mushing cannot stop.