Fortaleza is the capital of Ceará. The city’s motto (visible in its coat of arms) is the Latin word "Fortitudine", which in English means "strength, fortitude, courage". Among the Brazilian state capitals, Fortaleza is the one closest to Europe. It was also one of the 12 venues of the 2014 FIFA World Cup
Fortaleza is an important industrial and commercial centre. The city offers attractions such as the “micareta” Fortal (an off-season Carnaval) in July and Ceará Music in October, as well as Brazil’s largest water park, Beach Park.
It is served by Pinto Martins International Airport. Fortaleza is the birthplace of writers José de Alencar and Rachel de Queiroz, of humourist Tom Cavalcante and of former president Castello Branco. The Dragão do Mar Centre of Arts and Culture (CDMAC) is currently Fortaleza’s main cultural centre, with museums, theatres, cinemas, libraries and a planetarium.
Praia do Futuro (Future Beach) is one of the most visited by tourists. It has a long stretch of stalls which are in fact restaurants specializing in seafood. A typical Fortaleza event taking place every Thursday is “Caranguejada”.Our Lady of Asuncion is recognized as the patron saint of the city, because of the name given to the Fortress of Our Lady of Asuncion. Forró is the most popular music genre and can be listened to in several venues around the city. Fortaleza’s gastronomy is typically that of north-east Brazil, featuring typical dishes such as the “baião de dois” (Baião for two), a traditional rice dish with barbecue mutton or “carne-de-sol” (salt-cured meat). Seafood is another ingredient commonly found in Fortaleza’s typical cuisine, in dishes such as stingray Moqueca, mackerel and sea bream fish stews. Crab is also very appreciated, as is shrimp, a delicacy found in dishes such as “arroz de camarão” (shrimp rice) or “bobo de camarão” (shrimp bobó)
Mucuripe is famous for its fishing community and Fagner's portrayal of the raft and rafter. Every day, in the afternoon and early morning, you can see the departure and arrival of the fishermen to and from the sea. There is a bustling fish and seafood market and you can also find the city's oldest “Iracema and Martim” statue, inaugurated in 1965. Right next to Mucuripe is Titãzinho Beach, famous for surfing.
The coast of Fortaleza stretches over 34km and has a total of 15 beaches. Barra do Ceará Beach delimits Fortaleza from the city of Caucaia, located to the north. Historically, this spot is very important as it was where Fortim São Tiago was built.
Iracema Beach offers a very exciting nightlife, with its several nightclubs. You can also admire some historic buildings, such as St. Peter's Church, Estoril and the Metallic Bridge, as well as visit art galleries and the Dragão do Mar Centre for Arts and Culture. It is also a good place for surfing and fishing.At Meireles Beach you can find "Beira Mar" Avenue, leading to Mucuripe. The Nautical Club is one of the highlights of this beach, in front of which the city’s most famous handicraft market is held daily. Volta da Jurema is a prime spot on the coast of Fortaleza.
PLACES TO VISIT
Handicraft Market on Avenida Beira Mar
Beira Mar Handicraft market is held daily in front of the hotel, on Avenida Beira Mar, and offers handicraft as well as other artisanal products. The market was first held during the 1980s. In 2007 a municipal bill was presented by the Fortaleza City Council that officialises and regulates the event (in terms of area).
Dragão do Mar Centre of Art and Culture (CDMAC)
Centro Dragão-do-mar de Arte e Cultura (Sea Dragon Arts and Cultural Centre) is the city’s Cultural Centre, dedicated to culture and leisure. Here world-class international art events are hosted. Covering 33,000 square metres, the CDMAC was built in accordance with strict international quality standards. The Centre was named “Sea-Dragon” in honour of a historical figure: a fisherman who symbolised Ceará’s abolitionism movement and refused to transport slaves to be sold in the south of the country.
Architects Dellberg Ponce de Lima and Fausto Nilo designed the building. Built in a former port area, the centre contains a series of bars, restaurants, handicraft stores and theatres.
The CDMAC brings together several spaces that can be used for various activities, focusing mainly on urban leisure and art production and diffusion. These include the Ceará Cultural Memorial, the Contemporary Art Museum, the Menezes Pimentel Public Library, a modern theatre room, two movie theatres, the Rubens de Azevedo Planetarium, the Sérgio Mota Amphitheatre, an auditorium and classrooms.
José Alencar Theatre
The José de Alencar Theatre is a Brazilian theatre, officially opened on the 17th of June 1910, displaying an architecture of an eclectic style, an Art Noveau style showroom, a 120-seat auditorium, a foyer and an open-air scenic space.
The Ceará Museum houses a collection of over 13,000 artworks, distributed among three important collections that tell the history of Ceará: Palaeontology, Indigenous Archaeology / Anthropology and Furniture. It also exhibits permanent thematic exhibitions based on interesting topics of Ceará’s history, such as the constituted powers, the struggles and popular revolts, the religiosity, the intellectual production and the irreverence of Ceará and its people.
Fortaleza Museum can be found inside Fortaleza’s old lighthouse. Built by slaves between 1840 and 1846, for many years this lighthouse served as a reference for boats that wanted to dock. It was deactivated in 1957. The lighthouse is now part of the Historical Heritage. Built in masonry, wood and iron, it is one of the oldest buildings in Fortaleza.
Having since then been restored, the lighthouse today houses artworks and collections describing the main moments and events that marked the capital of Ceará: reproductions, drawings, photographs, documents, illustrations, excerpts of novels and visitor reports.
Fortaleza Public Promenade
Martyrs’ Square, also known as Passeio Público (public promenade), is the oldest square in Fortaleza. In addition to having a beautiful sea view, the square offers natural attractions in the form of several centenary trees, such as the famous baobab planted by Senator Pompey in 1910.
During the government of José Félix de Azevedo e Sá in 1825 the area was cared for. In this same period the Equador Confederation revolutionaries were there executed.
José Alencar House
José de Alencar House is a cultural institution kept by the Federal University of Ceará, listed by the Institute of National Historical and Artistic Heritage in 1964.
São Luiz Cinema
São Luiz Cinema (Cine São Luiz) is a movie theatre in Fortaleza, belonging to the Severiano Ribeiro Group. With a capacity of 1,500 people, it is the city’s largest movie theatre. In its hall you can find a staircase coated in Carrara marble, and three large crystal chandeliers, imported from former Czechoslovakia. It is the current venue for Cine Ceará and other film festivals. In addition to regular movie screening, the cultural centre has, since 2005, been host to Jazz and Blues Festivals and other shows.
Ferreira Square is a square in the city of Fortaleza. It is named after Boticário Ferreira, who in 1871, as mayor, remodelled and urbanized the public space. Since 2001, after popular research, Ferreira Square has been officially declared a Historic and Heritage Landmark of Fortaleza.
This beach is named after Iracema, the main character of the novel “Iracema” written by Ceará author José de Alencar. It is a prime neighbourhood in Fortaleza, near the city centre, where you can find Prainha Seminar. It has several night clubs and leisure centres.
The “Ponte dos Ingleses” (the Englishmen’s Bridge), also called "Metal Bridge", is located on Iracema Beach. It resulted from a project that aimed to improve the port infrastructure of Fortaleza. In the beginning of the XX century, Fortaleza’s port needed to be improved. To this end, several studies were carried out. In 1921, the English firm Norton Griffths & Company Limited was hired to carry out the construction work. As the engineers were English, the bridge came to be known as the “Englishmen’s bridge”.
“Praia do Futuro” (Future Beach) is both a beach and a neighbourhood in East Fortaleza. It is considered one of the best-known beaches of the Northeast, extending over approximately 6km, and has a corridor of food stalls made from carnauba straw, where restaurants serve a variety of typical dishes. The beach is very busy on Thursday nights, the traditional “caranguejada” day (a typical crab dish).
Mucuripe is both the name of a neighbourhood and of a beach in Fortaleza. Its highlight is Ponta do Mucuripe, situated 4 km to the east of the city centre. The traditional Mucuripe Market is held every Thursday in the neighbourhood.
Rio Cocó Ecological Park
Cocó Ecological Park is an area of conservation and state park, harbouring Fortaleza’s natural and ecological heritage. It is named after the river that forms the mangrove biome, the Cocó River. It currently covers an area of 1.155,2 hectares.
The Metropolitan Cathedral of Fortaleza is a catholic temple, home of the Archdiocese of Fortaleza. It took 40 years to build, its construction having started in 1938. The cathedral was inaugurated in 1978. It can hold 5.000 people and its towers reach 75m high. It was designed in an eclectic style by French architect George Maunier, with the predominance of gothic and Romanesque elements and with allusions to Cologne Cathedral and Chartres Cathedral. The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Joseph.
Messejana Lagoon is situated in the Messejana neighbourhood. Nearby you can find the Messejana Market. The lagoon’s water mirror frames Fortaleza’s largest Iracema Statue. The figure represents the character immortalized by José de Alencar’s pen.
Parangaba Lagoon is the largest lagoon in Fortaleza, when measured in water volume. The Lagoon is also known for the weekly market, called the Bird Market, which takes place every Sunday on the urbanized area of its banks.
Fortaleza has several shopping malls, among which the largest are Iguatemi, North Shopping and Aldeota, Del Paseo, Benfica and Via Sul. They are important areas of commerce and entertainment.
Beach Park is a tourist complex located on Porto das Dunas Beach, 16km from Fortaleza, in the municipality of Aquiraz. There you can find Latin America’s largest water park. Beach Park covers an area of 30km² (of which the water park represents 13 km²) and is one of the country’s top tourist destinations. The resort offers all-round infrastructures for tourism and leisure, being one of the country’s largest resorts, and has as backdrop Ceará’s natural coastal beauty.