Fortaleza turned out to be really something. It's not just industrial city & port in the north east end of South America. It's not a rich city clearly, it is more on the modest side of a developing country, and has yet to overcome many obstacles. But it's a pleasant and beautiful surprise.
Since i live in a country where the sea temperature hurts your bones and your forehead just for trying it with your foot, I love tropical beaches and warm water.
Fortaleza has a fantastic beach right by the city; Beira Mar, and another one on the other side of it facing the Atlantic (more open and windy), Praia do Futuro, both have white sand, palms, warm and clean waters, and you can get your caipirinhas served right up to the beach if that's your kind of thing... The food is also great and can be had under a forest of palms.
Nothing new yet, right? Another tropical tourism city...
The Metropolitan Cathedral construction Started in 1939, and took 40 years to complete. It was designed by french architect George Mounier. The sheer size of it is amazing, you suddenly approach it by car and see this huge towers beginning to rise out of a very modest neighbourhood.
It houses up to 5.000 people and it's the third in size in all of Brazil (Fortaleza is the 5th largest city).
The Central Market
Right by the cathedral there's another giant, a modern one, the Central Market is a five story very modern building (i have yet to research the architects), that houses everything from fresh seafood and vegetables on the first floor, to clothing, toys, hammocks, and you name its. But the most impressive thing is how the stores appear as you unwind the twisting halls that's cross the market and change levels. (Click on the pictures to enlarge them).
The Cultural Center
Walk two blocks (unfortunately one of them with empty lots or demolished building filled with trash, and badly lit, hope they fix this) and you'll get to Dragao de Mar (Sea Dragon) Cultural Center. Built only ten years ago it is another breath taking structure, not only because of it's size: Four blocks with streets between them, joined by modern bridges, but by it's ambitiousness. The Cultural center houses theaters, a contemporary art museum, halls for the performing arts, a planetarium, typical restaurants housed in old buildings, and I can't remember what else, but Google surely does.
The thing is, this is not a rich big city, it just has a little over 3 million people in a developing country, yet the Cultural Center rivals the ones of much bigger and richer cities. There was a Picasso exhibition, among others, the day I went over there.
Brazilians are rightly proud of this place and no doubt it will help the next generations appreciate further their strong cultural legacy. Quite an amazing place.
The people of Fortaleza are reaching higher and farther, they do need better streets and highways in terms of infrastructure, and you do see poverty on the streets, but it's very livable city.