Belém is the capital and largest city of the state of Pará in the country's north. It is the gateway to the Amazon River. Founded in 1616 by the Kingdom of Portugal, Belém was the first European colony on the Amazon but did not become part of Brazil until 1775. The newer part of the city has modern buildings and skyscrapers. The colonial portion retains the charm of tree-filled squares, churches and traditional blue tiles. The city has a rich history and architecture from colonial times. Recently it witnessed a skyscraper boom.
Belém is also known as the Metropolis of the Brazilian Amazon region or the Cidade das Mangueiras (City of Mango Trees) due to the vast number of those trees found in the city. Brazilians often refer to the city as Belém do Pará ("Belém of Pará") rather than just Belém, a reference to an earlier name for the city, Santa Maria de Belém do Grão Pará, and also to differentiate it from a number of other towns called Belém in Brazil, as well as the Palestinian city of Bethlehem. It is named after Santa Maria de Belém in Lisbon, also better known by its shortened name, Belém.