The first European colony on the Amazon, Belem grew tremendously in size and importance during the 19th century rubber boom. Today’s city is crowded with modern buildings and skyscrapers, but the colonial portion retains its personality, with handsome buildings and churches lining the sides of tree-filled squares. For cultural immersion try the quayside Ver O Peso. One of the most colorful markets in South America, it provides photo ops by the score. Fruit, plants, and fish are delivered by dugout canoe, and other wares include medicinal herbs, potions, and the fetishes of local African derived religions.
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