Like many northeastern Brazilian cities, Fortaleza is famous for its handicrafts, particularly its embroidered white lace textiles. One of the best places in the city to pick up locally made gifts and souvenirs is at the Mercado Central.
The market got its start as a meat, fruit and vegetable market housed in a small wooden building in 1809. In 1931 the government prohibited the sale of meat and produce within the market, so the industry was forced to shift to crafts. The market as it stands today was built in 1998 to include better facilities and more space for vendors.
The four floor market, located in city center, houses dozens of shops on each floor selling textiles, woven hammocks, paintings, clay sculptures, leather bags, palm baskets, T-shirts and other items. Visitors who want to take home a taste of their travels can also pick up local cashews and bottles of cachaça, the traditional Brazilian spirit made from sugarcane juice.