Ceará is known for its quality handicrafts. The most famous souvenirs are the sand-filled glass bottles. Though admittedly touristy, they are as wickedly complex as a boat-in-a-bottle. Other excellent souvenirs include handmade cotton hammocks and local craft cachaças. The Mercado Central, Rua Alberto Nepomuceno 199 (tel. 085/3454-8586; Mon-Sat 9am-7pm, Sun 9am-noon), is one of the best crafts markets in the city. The large circular building houses over 500 stalls and small shops selling a variety of handicrafts, including hammocks, lace, T-shirts, leather products, and sweets. Another good place to browse for crafts is the outdoor market that takes place nightly from 5 to 10pm in Meireles. The other craft you will see everywhere is lace, a tradition brought to Ceará by the Portuguese. The lace-makers (rendeiras) create delicate and complicated patterns, requiring enormous amounts of work, which in Fortaleza can still be bought for relatively little. Look for tablecloths, bedspreads, blouses, place mats, and numerous other items with lace trims. Good-quality lace is available at the crafts markets mentioned above, as well as at the Centro de Turismo, Rua Pompeu 350 (tel. 085/3101-5508; Mon-Sat 8am-6pm, Sun 8am-noon). Housed in the former city jail, it has over 100 crafts stalls (in addition to a tourist information booth that gives out a good free map).

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