Sertão – Crato and Juazeiro do Norte

Ceará’s Sertão is punished by droughts and its biggest cities are Juazeiro do Norte with its religiosity, Cariri with its palaeontological museum and Crato.

The Cariri region, in the hinterland of Ceará, is an area rich in culture, history and natural beauty, and is home to the cities of Crato, Juazeiro do Norte and Barbalha.

This region is a fascinating tourist destination for those wishing to explore both cultural heritage and natural landscapes.

Main tourist attractions and activities in the Cariri region

1. Crato

1. Araripe Geopark
  • Description: One of the first geoparks in the Americas, recognised by UNESCO.
  • Activities: Ecological trails, fossil watching, a visit to the Palaeontology Museum and exploration of geological formations.
2. Pedro Felício Cavalcanti Exhibition Park
  • Description: The venue for the Central-Northeastern Exhibition of Animals and Derivative Products.
  • Activities: Agricultural fairs, shows and cultural events.
3. Sítio Fundão
  • Description: An environmental protection area with trails and waterfalls.
  • Activities: Ecological walks, bird watching and waterfall bathing.
5. Crato Historical Museum
  • Description: Museum that preserves the city’s history and culture.
  • Activities: Visit the exhibitions of historical artefacts, documents and photographs.

2. Juazeiro do Norte

In the city of Juazeiro do Norte in the hinterland of Ceará, four tourist attractions stand out: the hill of the garden, the Padre Cícero museum, the Chapada do Araripe and the shopping centre.

The garden is 3km from the city of Juazeiro do Norte and includes the statue of Padre Cícero, the Padre Cícero Living Museum, the Church of Senhor Bom Jesus do Horto and the trail to the Holy Sepulchre (2,650 metres).

1 Statue of Padre Cícero
  • Description: One of Brazil’s greatest religious icons, located on Horto Hill.
  • Activities: Visiting the monument, museum and viewpoint with a panoramic view of the city.
2. Basilica of St Francis of the Wounds
  • Description: An important church dedicated to St Francis, much visited by pilgrims.
  • Activities: Participation in masses, guided tours and observation of the architecture.
4. Mestre Noza Popular Culture Centre
  • Description: Space that promotes popular culture and local handicrafts.
  • Activities: Purchase of handicrafts, cultural workshops and art exhibitions.
5. Padre Cícero Living Museum
  • Description: A museum dedicated to the life and work of Padre Cícero.
  • Activities: Visiting the exhibitions on the history of Padre Cícero and the city.

3. Barbalha

1. Pau da Bandeira Festival
  • Description: One of Brazil’s most traditional popular festivals, in honour of Saint Anthony.
  • Activities: Accompanying the pau da bandeira procession, shows and religious celebrations.
2. Caldas Spa
  • Description: A natural water park with thermal pools.
  • Activities: Thermal baths, relaxation and recreational activities.
3. Araripe National Forest (FLONA)
  • Description: An environmental conservation area with rich biodiversity.
  • Activities: Ecological trails, observation of fauna and flora and environmental education.
4. Tupinambá Mill
  • Description: A historic sugar mill that produces rapadura and other sugar cane derivatives.
  • Activities: Visiting the mill, tasting products and learning about the production process.

Practical Tips

  • Climate: The Cariri region has a semi-arid climate with high temperatures. The best time to visit is between June and September, when temperatures are milder.
  • Transport: Renting a car is the best option for exploring the region with more freedom. There are also public transport options and organised excursions.
  • Accommodation: There are a variety of accommodation options, from simple inns to more sophisticated hotels.
  • Gastronomy: The local cuisine is rich and varied, with typical sertão dishes such as carne de sol, baião de dois, and peixadas. Be sure to try the tapioca and regional sweets.

Final thoughts

Ceará’s Cariri region offers a unique experience that combines history, culture and nature.

The cities of Crato, Juazeiro do Norte and Barbalha are unmissable destinations for those who want to get to know the hinterland of Ceará and its rich cultural and natural heritage.