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Peru Holidays: Iquitos Attractions

Peru Holidays: Iquitos Attractions

Iquitos, Peru has become a center for ecotourism in the Amazon and hosts a distinguished nightlife and delicious cuisine. Annual average temperatures in this city on the shores of the mighty Amazon River hover around 82F (28C). It is Peru’s 6th largest city, the most populous of the Amazon region, and is the principal port in Peru, from where excursions onto the Amazon River and into the Amazon Rainforest can be launched.

The area around the present-day city of Iquitos has been continually inhabited by native indigenous groups, including the Yameo (Napeanos) and the Iquito, for many thousands of years. With the arrival of the Spanish, Jesuit missionaries established settlements in an attempt to evangelize among the natives.

The city of Iquitos was officially created in 1866 and shortly thereafter experienced spectacular growth as a result of the Amazonian rubber boom. Many of the architectural gems of Iquitos, attractions in and of themselves, are monuments to the ephemeral opulence brought to Iquitos by the rubber boom.

Principal among these is the Casa de Fierro (or Hierro), “Iron House.” The building was designed by Gustave Eiffel and exhibited at the 1889 International Exposition in Paris. The Bolivian rubber baron Baca Diez purchased the building, intending to have it shipped to the Madre de Dios region where the rubber industry was centered. However, transport of the structure along the Ucayali River became impossible and Baca Diez sold it to Anselmo del Aguila, a Peruvian rubber baron living in Iquitos. The building is located on a corner facing the Plaza de Armas. It has 2 floors, and its walls, balconies, and pyramidal roof are encased in steel plates.

Other buildings, such as the Corte Superior, Iglesia Matriz, and Ex Hotel Palace are also remnants from this era. The rubber boom also brought electricity and a railway to Iquitos in the early 20th century – much earlier than many other Peruvian cities. When the rubber boom ended around 1914, the economic bubble of Iquitos burst, and the city was plunged into poverty.

Other attractions in town are its museums and markets. Malec?�n Tarapac?? is the boardwalk that runs along the waterfront and features neoclassical architecture. Here, travelers can visit the Museo Amaz?�nico, which honors the Amazonian culture of Peru, Brazil, and Ecuador. There is also a permanent exhibition of historical photographs and the Museo Militar.

The floating market of Bel?�n is the largest market in the region where travelers can find regional specialties. Nearby is the floating town of Belen, where residents have built their houses on wooden stilts and on rafts. When the water level rises, residents have to secure their houses and move to the second floor.

Iquitos can only be reached by river or by plane, as the region’s difficult geography makes passage by roads fairly impossible. From Iquitos, the Amazon River is navigable all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, 2088 miles (3360 km) distant. Amazon tours go to jungle lodges nearby, Manuas, and beyond.