The two parts of the city—Cuiabá itself and Várzea Grande (where the airport is located)—are separated by the Rio Cuiabá. The town’s main square is the vibrant Praça da República, which is surrounded by federal university buildings, a weird-looking pale pink concrete 1960s cathedral, and one of the town’s most attractive old mansions, the Palácio da Instrução.
The latter houses the Museu de História Natural e Antropologia (Praça da República 151, tel. 65/3321-3391, 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri., R$1), which has a little something for everyone. The history section displays interesting old photographs that trace Cuiabá’s colorful past while the natural history section will please taxidermists with its collection of stuffed exotic beasts from the surrounding region. Most interesting is the impressive collection of indigenous artifacts, including clubs, arrows, and some really splendid feather headdresses.
A few blocks north, you’ll have fun at the Museu de Pedras Ramis Bucais (Rua Galdino Pimentel 155, 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri., R$5), which features the personal rock collection of a local man named Ramis Bucair. The small, deliciously nutty ensemble includes fossils, gemstones, and Stone Age artifacts, along with a meteorite and a fossilized bone belonging to a local Tyrannosaurus rex, both of whose authenticity is suspect.
It’s also worth checking out the renovated west bank of the Rio Cuiabá. Along the waterfront, the Museu do Rio Cuiabá and Aquário Municipal (Av. Beira Rio, tel. 65/3623-1440, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Tues.–Sun.) display maps and exhibits about the river as well as aquariums featuring some of its scaly inhabitants.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition