Situated on the banks of the Negro river, the capital of the state of Amazon, Manaus is an important center for ecological tourism. One of its most popular attractions is the Ponta Negra beach, where, when the river is low, the sands are exposed right down to the river bed, forming a beautiful contrast with the dark waters of the river itself. In the early years of the XX century, the city became very wealthy and the most important cultural center in the North region of Brazil. The old rubber barons dreamed of transforming it into an European style city and called it "the Paris of the Tropics". The architecture of the " Opera House" and Municipal Market" is an example of the luxury in which the inhabitants used to live. Manaus is a major destination for tourists and its port is a starting point for trips into the Amazon forest.