If you arrive in Manaus  by boat, you’ll disembark at the famous Porto Flutuante (Floating Port), a concrete pier that was designed to rise and fall along with the Rio Negro (which, depending on the season, can vary as much as 14 meters/46 feet). Built in 1902 by a British company, Manaos Harbour Limited, this is where all large ships dock, and the bustle of passengers boarding and disembarking is quite a sight.
For this reason, even if you don’t arrive via water, Manaus’s rambunctious, busy port is a fitting place to take your bearings and begin a tour of the city. Although the very well-organized but rather sterile modern Estação Hidroviária is quite new, it is no coincidence that the customs house across the street, known as the Alfandêga (Rua Marquês de Santa Cruz), is evocative of Victorian London.
Inaugurated in 1906, this fine edifice was also built by Manaos Harbor Limited in an eclectic style that mingles medieval and Renaissance elements. The world’s first example of a prefabricated building, its bricks were shipped over from England in blocks, and reassembled on site.