Belém is a city in the northern part of Brazil. It is the capital and also the biggest city of the state of Pará. Its metropolitan area has approximately 2.09 million inhabitants. It is the entrance gate and, together with Manaus, the most important city in the north of Brazil. It is also known as Metropolis of the Brazilian Amazon region or Cidade das Mangueiras (city of mango trees) due to the number of those trees found in the city. Belém is served by the Val de Cães International Airport (BEL) that connects the city to the rest of the country and other cities in South America.
he city was founded on January 12, 1616 by capitain Francisco Caldeiras de Castelo Branco, who was sent by the Portuguese crown to defend the region against French, Dutch and British colonisation attempts. For this purpose, he built a fortress called Forte do Presépio (currently called Forte do Castelo).
Due to the growing importance of rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) from the end of the 19th until the beginning of the 20th century, Belém became a very important marketplace. During this period many important buildings were constructed, such as Palácio Lauro Sodré, Colégio Gentil Bitencourt, Teatro da Paz, Palácio Antônio Lemos, Emílio Goeldi Museum and the most important of them the Mercado Ver-o-Peso (Check-the-weight Market).
Among Belém's main tourist attractions are: Rodrigues Alves Wood - Botanic Garden and The Estação das Docas Complex (Check-the-weight Market).
The biggest feast in Pará State happens there, Círio de Nazaré (Nazareth Taper). Festivities start on the second Sunday in the month of October and pay homage to Our Lady of Nazareth, patron saint of the State. Organised since 1793, at present it gathers around 1,5 million of followers, who go on a procession through the city on a huge suite to the Basílica de Nazaré, where the image is worshipped.