Fortaleza City Guide

An introduction to the city of Fortaleza


Fortaleza is the fifth largest city in Brazil, with the population around 2.55 million. It’s located in the Northeast of the country and it is a capital of Ceara state. Situated on the Atlantic coast, the city has the nickname “Brazilian Miami”.


After the Spaniards who were first landed in this city area in 1500 and named the new land “Santa Maria de la Consolacion”, the colonization started in year 1603 whereas Pero Coelho de Souza, A Portuguese came who built the fort “Sao Tiago” and established the “Nova Lisboa” settlement of The Fort of Sao Tiago (changed the name to forte Sao Sebastiao in 1612, after winning against the French invaders). The Dutch invaded the area of Ceara and in 1637 they took the Fort of Sao Sebastiao. Later, in 1649, they built a new fortress and named it Fort Schoonenborch which means “graceful stronghold”. In 1654, the Portuguese took over the fort and renamed it in “Fortaleza da NossaSenhora de Assunção” from which the today’s city Fortaleza takes its name. The official foundation of Fortaleza as a village was in 1726 and it became the capital of the Ceara state in 1799.

General Facts

Fortaleza has been home to various cultural institutions since the late 19th century. The Ceara Institute was established in 1887, the Ceara Academy of Letters, first of the sort in Brazil, was founded in 1894. The mix of white colonizers and native culture produces a rich and diverse folklore in this city. Several cultural manifestations in Fortaleza are:

  • Quadrilhasjuninas - Traditional folk dance festival during the months of June and July
  • Bumba-meu-boi or Boi-Ceará - Dances and songs in honor of the Portuguese mythical ox
  • Torém - The Tremembé natives dance festival
  • Violeiros, cantadores and emboladores - A typical Northeastern musical manifestation expressing social criticism
  • Maracatu - dance and music festival
  • Dança do coco - established by Afro-Brazilians


There are numerous landmarks in Fortaleza and interesting places to visit, some of them are:

  • Teatro José de Alencar - This beautiful theater is built in 1910, in Art Nouveau style, and it is reopened after restoration in 1991. The theater is named after famous Ceara-born novelist.
  • Farol do Mucuripe - History museum built in Baroque style between 1840 and 1846
  • Fortaleza's Cathedral - This extraordinary church was built nearly 40 years (from 1939 to 1978) in Gothic Roman style, designed by French architect George Mounier. It fits 5000 people and is the 3rd largest cathedral in Brazil.
  • Estátua de Iracema - Situated on the Iracema beach, this statue is sculpted in concrete by Corbiniano Lins in 1965 and a few years ago, a New Statue of Iracema, made of metal, was put on exhibition, only 4 km away from the old one.
  • Palácio da Luz - Former head office of the government of Ceara state. It was built at the end of 18th century and has a library of more than 15000 books.
  • Castelão - A football stadium built in 1973 with a maximum capacity of 67,037 people. Is the home ground of Ceara Sporting Club and Fortaleza Esporte Clube and both FIFA Confederations Cup in 2013 and Fifa World Cup in 2014 were played at this stadium.

General Specifications

The transport in the Fortaleza consists of International Airport, roads, metro, and busses. The Pinto Martins International Airport has four levels and it is completely air-conditioned. There are direct flights to Amsterdam, Milan, Lisbon and Frankfurt along with all major destinations in Brazil. MetroFor is the 43 km rapid transit system for the Fortaleza city. The metro began operation in 2012 and it has the total of 28 stations, 18 on the south line, 4 of which are underground and 10 stations on the west side. A completely new East line will go underground and it started to be built last year. The Bus station in Engenheiro João Tomé is the official name of Bus terminal in Fortaleza. It was constructed in 1973 with a mean of 8000 individuals, 200 bus lines and nearly 35 bus companies per day. The station is only 3 kilometers from the city center.

The Coco Ecological Park is created in 1989 and covers the area of 2.855 acres. This park is the most important part of Fortaleza’s natural and ecological heritage. It contains a various endemic and threatened species of animals and plants and it’s also generating a large annual income from tourists. Mercado Central or Central Market is the place when you can buy almost everything. Local craft products and herbs are very popular buys in this market.

In addition to football, which is, naturally the most popular sport in Brazil, Fortaleza is also a good ground for nautical sports. Fortaleza hosted the world competitions in surfing; windsurfing and kite surfing due to a strong wind which makes Praia do Futuro an excellent place for this kind of sports. Beach volleyball, Table tennis, Futsal, and Skateboard are also very popular in the city of Fortaleza.

This should be enough for any person who would like to visit this astonishing city on the Northeast of Brazil and with all activities and amenities that this gem on the Atlantic has to offer, visiting the “Brazilian Miami” will be a great experience if the way ever takes you to Brazil.


Fortaleza’s prices are estimated as high, while prices on groceries vary from moderate low to average, depending on the location.

Places to Go

Many touristic places and amenities are attracting the people in Fortaleza, the big touristic destination with a several five star rated hotels like: Caesar Park Fortaleza, Hotel Luzeiros, Seara Praia Hotel, Olympo Praia Hotel, Othon Palace Fortaleza and many more. You can also find a cheaper accommodation in many available 4 star hotels and inns. The city of Fortaleza has about 25 km of urban beaches. Not all of them are suitable for bathing, but they have a variety of nightclubs, restaurants, and bars. Iracema is that kind of beach, with many places to go out. On the Praia do Meireles and Praia do Mucuripe, both on the east and the west sides of the city, you can rent saveiros (sailing boats) and explore the coast. Praia do Futuro has dunes up to 30m high and very clean water, it is a perfect place to lie in the sun and simply enjoy.

In Fortaleza’s restaurants, you can try a traditional Brazilian cuisine which includes churrasco, feijoada and rice and beans. Some dishes are typical of the Northeast of the country such as macaxeira, Carne de sol, tapioca and baião-de-dois (a version of risotto with beans and cheese), specific for the Ceara state. The most popular restaurants and cafes in Fortaleza are:

  • Coco Bambu - This restaurant offers many international dishes like pizza, sushi, crepes, tapiocas and regional mains. The ambient is phenomenal with tropical garden setting.
  • Colher de Pau or Wooden Spoon - one of the best regional restaurants in the city offers great seafood and atmosphere.
  • Gheller - This 60-item self-serve/buffet offers a seafood, sushi, pasta, salads, wild boar and delicious beef cuts.
  • Santa Clara Café Orgânico - Is serving organic coffee, sandwiches, crepes, omelets, waffles, tapiocas etc.
  • 50 Sabores - With a great offer of around 100 ice-cream flavors, beer, cheese and Brazilian fruits.