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General information
Belém
is the capital and largest city of the state of Pará in the northern part of Brazil. It has currently almost 2,1 million inhabitants, with a density of 1.337 inhabitants per square kilometer. Belém is also known as "Cidade das Mangueiras" (City of the Mango trees), it thanks the name to the Mango trees which grow throughout the busy city centre.

The city of Belém was founded on January the 12th 1616 with the building of the fort Feliz Lusitânia (also known as Nossa Senhora de Belém and Santa Maria de Belém), the fort was built to protect the Portuguese deeper inside the Amazon jungle from the French and the Dutch. In 1655 Belém was given city status and was made capital of the state when Pará seperated from Maranhão in 1772.


How to get there
- Belém has an airport not that big: Val de Cans International Airport (BEL) that connects the city and Pará to the rest of the country and other parts of South-America. An other smaller airport in Belém is Júlio César Airport.
- There are also various busses linking Belém to Santarém, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, São Luiz and many more cities. Just go to the bus terminal in the city centre to check the possibilities.
- Ferries go between Manaus, Santarém and Belém (and other cities as well), due to thick Jungle and lots of rivers and creeks covering most of the land it's sometimes easier to travel over the water eventhough it might take a little longer.


Tourist attractions
Ver-o-Peso market

This market dates back to 1688. Ver-o-Peso literally means "See the weight", as the export was starting to grow the Portuguese decided that tax should be paid for everything entering and leaving the Amazon. Nowadays you can find all kinds of things on the Ver-o-Peso market, medicinal herbs, pottery (arts & crafts), all kinds of fruit (like Açaí), but also alot of fish and alive animals (mice, ducks, parrots).

Estação das Docas
Right next to Ver-o-Peso you will find Estação das Docas, this large warehouse which used to be the harbour/docks of Belém do Para now houses plenty of restaurants and bars to have a nice lunch or dinner. Some restaurants sell meals per kg. others sell by menu.


Rodrigues Alves Botanic Garden
If you need an urgent break from the busy city of Belém you should visit Jardim Botânico Bosque Rodrigues Alves. Entrance only costs R$ 2,-. They have several animal species like crocodiles, turtles, birds and even a manatee. It's a great place for a nice relaxing walk. However if you want something to eat you should take it with you before you go in because inside the park your choices are limited when it comes to food.


Fort Feliz Lusitânia
This is the old fort of Belém, built in 1616 to defend the entrance to the richness of the Amazon Jungle from the French and the Dutch. Nowadays fort Feliz Lusitânia holds a small museum and is worth a visit during your stay in Belém. Entrance is free, but itís not open all days.


Nearby Belém

Ilha do Mosqueiro
This island is about 70km. with the bus from the busterminal in Belém do Para. You can either take the normal bus to Mosqueiro or the air-conditioned bus. The air-conditioned bus to Mosqueiro doesnít cost that much more but the normal bus is no problem either.

As the bus enters Mosqueiro island there are several beaches on the island you can choose from, it will drive along the coast from north to south. Almost near the end is Praia do Farol (or Farol beach) on Mosqueiro island, it is one of the best beaches on the island. During the weekend these beaches or full of people which come from Belém to enjoy the sun and the warm water from the Pará river to swim, but during weekdays the beaches are practically empty.

Other beaches that Ilha do Mosqueiro holds are: Areão, Trapiche, Do Bispo, Praia Grande, Prainha, Chapéu Virado, Marahu, Porto Artur, Murubira, Ariramba, São Francisco, Carananduba, Paraíso and Baía do Sol.


Ilha do Marajó
On the other side of Baía do Guajará and the Pará River, about 40km. from Belém lays Ilha do Marajó. This island is over 40.000 square kilometres big and is covered with mangrove forests, swamps and savannah areas. Large parts of the island are flooded during the rain season.

There are only a few small villages on the island, the most important are Cachoeira do Arari, Salvaterra, Soure and Santa Cruz do Arari, between the first two is the only highway on the island.

Ilha do Marajó is famous for itís police riding on Water Buffaloes, this introduced species can also be found in large groups on the island. Ilha do Marajó also has some beautiful beaches. Ferries go between Belém and Ilha do Marajó regularly.



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