The World Cup is a momentous occasion that sets the stage for the world’s greatest soccer athletes. Thousands of people will travel to 12 cities in Brazil to see their favorite teams play an international sport that will bring people together from all around the globe. And there are several reasons why Fortaleza is the perfect city to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup games.
Fortaleza, the City of “Fortalezenses”
Fortaleza is known for its people, “Fortalezenses.” Although the city on its own is aesthetically beautiful, it’s the good-humored nature of its people that automatically make it a charming destination. Fortalezenses are known for being helpful, hospitable and caring hosts to tourists. They stay active by walking around in urban parks or by the seafront.
The History of the Fortress
In case you didn’t know, Fortaleza in Portuguese translates to “fortress.” In 1649, the Dutch settled and built Fort Schoonemborch. A few years later, in 1655, the Portuguese seized the fort and renamed it Nossa Senhora da Assunção, after the patron saint of the city, the Lady of the Assumption. Visitors can visit the beautiful fortress on Monte Marajaitiba for free. Today, the fortress is home to the Army Military Headquarters.
Fortaleza has a handful of must-see cultural attractions to visit like the Theater Museu da Cachaça, Cathedral Metropolitana, Dragão do Mar Center of Art and Culture and the José Martiniano de Alencar, which was named after the influential romantic novelist born in Fortaleza. Jose Martiniano wrote important literary works focused on Brazil’s culture and its people. The theater is big and sophisticatedly decorated, with facades like the smiling and frowning theatrical masks that hang over the doorway of the entrance. In the José Martiniano de Alencar Theater, there are 2 indoor stages and 4 stages located outdoors in the Burle Marx gardens.
The Museum of Cachaça (Museu da Cachaça) is located in a large mansion that explores the history of the oldest Cachaca manufacturers. Visitors have the opportunity to taste the drink straight from the distillery. The museum has several documents, photos and maps of the old sugar canes plantations on display. By the way, don’t miss seeing the world’s largest wooden barrel, too.
The Cathedral Metropolitana took 40 years to build, and has gorgeous stained-glass windows. This cathedral can host up to 500 people, and was built to replace the Igreja da Se, which had to be demolished because it was at risk of collapsing.
The Dragão do Mar Center of Art and Culture explores Fortaleza’s culture via several exhibits. The center includes a theater, planetarium and movie center. This cultural center is dedicated to Brazilian abolitionist Chico da Matilde, the man who championed a grassroots fight against the transportation of slaves to Brazil.
Seafood for Days
Located on the coast of the northeast region of Brazil, Fortaleza is well-known for being the national capital of lobster and fresh seafood. Praia do Futuro is 16 miles of breathtaking beach, with little huts and tables stretched along the coast for ocean-front dining. Fortalezenses like to go to Praia do Futuro to eat the fresh catch of the day, taking in the beautiful view. Go straight from a swim in the ocean to having drinks with friends in a matter of minutes. Visitors can indulge in appetizing crab dishes, fish stew, sea salt-roasted Pargo fish and Peixada Cearense, a mixture of different fish marinated in lemon and garlic juices.
Options for food other than seafood include traditional baião de dois, a dish that consists of rice and freshly picked beans. Tapioca is another tasteful dish made from the Mandioca root, stuffed with fruit, cheese, chocolate or fresh coconut. And don’t be surprised if you notice a different array of fruits here. Sapoti, piyomba, seriguela and caja are just few examples of delicious fruits you’ll find in the northeast region of Fortaleza.
A Day in Paradise
For a day of fun in Fortaleza with family and friends, visitors can go to the Cocó Ecological Park, Praia do Meireles and Calcadao de Iracema. The Cocó Ecological Park (Parque do Cocó) is a great urban park to hike around with family and friends. Praia do Meireles is also a great family beach location with plenty of courts to play volleyball or foot volley. Locals like to walk by the seafront of Calcadao de Iracema and watch the sunset from Pont dos Ingleses.
Just north 186 miles outside of Fortaleza, Jericoacoara Beach is considered one of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Looking for a beach adventure? Ride around the Por do Sol and Dina Encantada sand dunes and explore the preserved national park. Camocim, a fishing village located 40 miles from Jericoacoara, is another option for a quick day trip.
A Night on the Town
When it comes to its nightlife, Fortaleza is all about the comedy clubs. But if comedy isn’t your thing, then visit 2 of the city’s neighborhoods, Aldeota and Varjota. Aldeota is known for its high-end gastronomic restaurants. It’s a great place to go for live music, nightclubs and bars. Varjota is a revitalized neighborhood and it has the most bars and nightclubs in Fortaleza. So no matter what you’re interested in, there’s several ways to experience and explore this World Cup city.
– By The Brazilian Tourism Board (Embratur)