Manaus is the gateway to the Amazon river and rainforest. It grew wealthy during the rubber boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and remains a busy port city to this day. This lively city of 1.5 million people stands on the banks of the Rio Negro, shortly before it merges with the Rio Solimoes - as the Amazon is known on this section of its course. From here can be accessed the vast surrounding rainforest, with its many natural attractions, although it's well worth setting aside a day or two in your Amazon travel plans to look around Manaus itself and to relax after the long internal flight.
One of Manaus' most interesting landmarks is the Teatro Amazonas, a grand Renaissance-style opera house with a pink facade built during the height of the rubber boom. The Teatro's cupola is especially striking, a glistening dome featuring more than 30,000 ceramic tiles imported from Alsace. Inside, are further examples of great craftsmanship, in its curved balconies and jacaranda wood armchairs for 700 theatre-goers.