What few historical sights Natal  possesses are located in the bairros of Ribeira and Cidade Alta, which fan out from the Forte dos Reis Magos (Av. Presidente Café Filho, tel. 84/3502-1099, 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. daily, R$3). The most impressive of the all too few vestiges of the past is the star-shaped fort itself. Poised majestically along a reef, it is separated from the tip of the city by a sandbar.
Construction on Forte dos Reis Magos began on January 6, 1598—the feast day of the Reis Magos (Three Kings). Inside, the most important historical artifact on display is the Marco de Touros, a limestone cross engraved with the herald of the Portuguese king. The cross, originally planted in the village of São Miguel do Gostoso in 1501, symbolizes the first claim to Portuguese territory in Brazil .
In 1962, it was transferred to Forte dos Reis Magos because villagers—who had come to view it as a miraculous object—had taken to chipping pieces off to make curative teas for ailing family members. The fort itself was built using a mixture of stone, sand, whale oil, and oyster shells. From its ramparts, the views of the city and coastline are quite stupendous.