The zone was formerly populated by different groups such as the Cocama, Huitoto, and Bora; later, Jesuit missionaries founded the city. By the end of the XIXth century, Iquitos reached its peak with the exploitation of rubber. The economic bonanza translated into luxurious buildings such as the Hotel Palace, with an Art Noveau style and the Casa de Fierro, designed by the famous French architect Gustave Eiffel. Contrasting with these constructions, the rustic houses of the neighborhood of Belén stand on rafts and piles to protect them from high water. One of the major attractions is to navigate the rivers and lakes, as well as enjoy their beautiful beaches. The National Reserve of Pacaya-Samiria (2 080.000 ha), the largest in the country, is located 183 km from the city and it is a refuge for numerous species of animals and plants, many of them in danger of extinction such as the charapa turtle, the giant river otter, the black caiman and the river dolphin. On the other hand, the National Reserve of Allpahuayo-Mishana (58.000 hectares), protects the greatest concentration of white sand forests or “varillales” known in the Peruvian Amazon. This is one of the best destinations to observe birds. In addition to these national reserves, there are also various private reserves where all types of lodging have been built.