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August 15th, 2013 


 Rio Branco

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Rio Branco Brazil


 Rio Branco, the capital of Acre, was built on the Rio Acre banks by rubber tappers in 1882. It’s name is Portuguese for “White River.” Once a dangerous city, Rio Branco has mellowed over the centuries, with many interesting historical sites for the off-the-beaten path traveler. Due to the changes in the economy of Brazil, the lack of an industrial center, and the small amount of tourism the city has become impoverished. However, it’s isolation and minimal industrialization has also spared it the ruin many Brazilian cities have faced due to excessive pollution. Rio Branco may be one of the most isolated cities in Brazil. The nearest cities are Port Velho in Rondonia, 540 km away, and Manaus in Amazonas, 1445 km away.

 Rio Branco has an eclectic population. Both its people and its architecture are a mix of many creeds and customs. It’s a city of parks, old public buildings, museums, and shady squares. Brazil nut trees and rubber trees provide shade for the city.

The Rio Acre, a formidable river, navigable as far as Peru and Bolivia, still plays a prominent role in the city, bisecting this state capital into two districts. The west is is known as Primeiro. The east side is called Segundo. Two bridges link these two districts.

 Rio Branco’s  Primeiro district, on the west, is rich in cultural sites. There is the main square, Praça Plácido de Castro, a shady area. Near it is Nossa Senhora de Nazaré, a beautiful cathedral along Avenida Brasil, which was built in 1959 and resembles a Roman basilica. Also on the Avendia Brasil is the Casa do Seringueiro, which has an exhibit on the history and life of the early rubber tappers. There is also an exhibit on Chico Mendes, a social activist. A reproduction of his house has his personal possessions in it.
Additionally, the Casa do Seringueiro, has a room dedicated to the world famous “forest art” of Hélio Melo On Rua Benjamin Constant is the Palácio Rio Branco, which is modeled in the neoclassical style. It looks like a Greek temple because of its Ionic columns. The rubber museum, Museu da Borracha, is north of Praça Plácido de Castro. It’s an very old building with a tiled surface. It has displays, memorablia and documents, on the rubber boom, the indigenous Acreano people, and the Santo Daime doctrine. Another interesting site is a chapel made of iron plates, the Igrejinha de Ferro.


 Rio Branco’s Segundo district, on the east, is much simpler, from a historical perspective, with its main feature being Calçadão da Gameleira, a promenade that skirts the shore. Here can be found plaques and an ancient tree that marks the first settlement.

 Apart from historical landmarks and museums of a rich and troubled past, Rio Branco is also known for its beautiful parks. In Vila Ivonete, which is in the Primeiro district, is the Horto Forestal. This park is popular because of its picnic areas, walking paths, small lake, and Amazonian trees. It’s often frequented by joggers. The other park worth noting is the The Parque Zoo-Botânico.
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