Home / Salvador / Salvador de Bahia Travel Guide


Salvador was chosen as Brazil’s earliest capital for its attractive geographical attributes. Seventy meter (230 foot) bluffs divide the upper and lower parts of the city, which are known as Cidade Alta and Cidade Baixa, respectively. From the heights of Cidade Alta the entire Baia de Todos os Santos (All Saints Bay) can be seen, making it impossible for ships to approach unnoticed, a feature that was particularly attractive to its 16th century founders.

An ancient fault line, the Falha Geológica de Salvador, is responsible for the „two-story“ topography of the city. Urban planning here took after that in the similarly hilly terrain of Lisbon and Porto.

The city’s commercial center radiates outward from the port, while the upper level is largely comprised of residential, administrative, and religious buildings. This division is fundamental to understanding the dynamics of Salvador today: the Pelourinho District, which is part of Cidade Alta, has more than eight hundred 17th and 18th century dwellings, most of which have been restored or are in the process of restoration.

Map of Salvador de Bahia

Map of Salvador de Bahia

Map of Salvador de Bahia

Video Beaches Salvador Bahia

Map of city Salvador de Bahia

Map of Salvador Beaches

Cidade Alta is also home to some of the most important churches in Salvador. In Cidade Baixa you can visit all fifteen forts that once protected the colonial capital from seaborne threats.

There are also hotels, a variety of businesses, buzzing nightlife destinations, marinas dotted with pleasure boats, and 30 kilometers (19 miles) of city beaches.

Some of Salvador’s most exciting attractions are found on the bay between the Bonfim and Barra neighborhoods. The few locals who speak English are often more than happy to offer suggestions and provide insider perspective.

Note that it’s not safe to walk around Cidade Baixa, or any poorly lit area, at night. Instead, take a taxi between establishments and your hotel.

Map of Lower and Upper City Salvador Bahia

Map of Lower and Upper City Salvador Bahia

Map of Lower and Upper City Salvador Bahia



The busy Mercado Modelo is popular among tourists for its arts and crafts products, and is worth a visit if only to look at the picturesque, old building that houses it. Its location in the center of Cidade Baixa, makes it easy to find.

Capoeira demonstrations frequently take place behind the market. In front is one of the symbols of Salvador, the Fonte de Oxalá (Oxala’s Fountain) sculpture by Mario Cravo Junior of the African deity Oxalá.

There are two traditional restaurants on the second floor of the market: Camafeu de Oxóssi and Maria de São Pedro, both of which sell local dishes. Praҫa Visconde de Cairu, 250, Comércio


Nestled at the foot of the steep bluff that separates Cidade Alta from Cidade Baixa, the Igreja Nossa Senhora da Conceiҫão da Praia has great symbolic value for the people of Bahia. Spacious and naturally well li t, it was built in the second half of the 18th century on the site where the first chapel in Salvador was erected in 1549.

Work on the new church began in Alentejo, Portugal, where limestone blocks were cut, numbered, and shipped to the colony. The highlight of the interior is the nave ceiling, which was painted sometime around 1774 by Jose Joaquim da Rocha (1737-1807), one of the great names in Brazilian baroque artistry.

The annual Conceiҫao da Praia festivities take place here on December 8th and mark the beginning of a cycle of religious ceremonies and festivities that extend through the summer and culminate in Carnival. Largo da Conceiҫão da Praia, Comércio.


It is worth setting aside an entire afternoon to visit this magnificent stone mansion overlooking Todos os Santos Bay. Built in the 17th century for Judge Pedro Unhão Castelo Branco, it was later used for commerce.

Visitors are welcome to roam the premises and explore the main house, slave quarters, chapel, and warehouses, as well as the quays that served as a point of departure for sugar produced in Reconcavo.

The building was restored in 1962 and today is home to the Museu de Arte Moderna (Modern Art Museum, also known as MAM), whose collection includes nearly a thousand works by popular Brazilian artists such as Tarsila do Amaral, Portinari, and Di Cavalcanti.

The garden has been reinvented as the Parque das Esculturas (Sculpture Park), with pieces by Carybé, Mario Cravo, Rubem Valentim, and other recognized artists.

There is a bar on the pier with outdoor tables and occasional live music. For many, the greatest attraction here is the magnificent sunset view. Avenida do Contorno, Comércio Solar do Unhão.


The physical separation of Salvador’s two halves has long been an obstacle to the movement of people and goods. In the 16th century Cidade Alta and Cidade Baixa were connected by the „priests‘ hoist,“ a crane built by the Jesuits.

In the 19th century the hoist was replaced by the Elevador Lacerda elevator and the Plano Inclinado Gonҫalves funicular railway.

These, along with the steep alleyway (ladeira) known as Ladeira da Misericórdia, are the three options for moving between the two city levels.

Elevador Lacerda

The opening of the first elevator in 1873 had an enormous impact on city life. Designed by engineer Antonio Lacerda, the modern-day elevator connects Praҫa Tomé de Souza Square, in the upper city, with Praҫa Visconde de Cairu Square, in the lower city.

The 23-second trip costs five centavos. In 1930, when a second tower was build, the elevator was decorated in the art-deco style that it retains today.

The elevator’s four cabins transport between 27,000 and 35,000 people per day in the high season (December to February) . There is a tourist information desk in the lower elevator building.

The nighttime lighting system makes the elevator a highlight of the evening cityscape. Cidade Alta: Praҫa Visconde de Cairu.

Plano Inclinado Gonҫalves

The funicular railway has two tram- like carriages that can transport up to 11,000 people a day in the high season.

It is the best way to get from the Pelourinho neighborhood to the lower city because the station is conveniently located behind the Basilica in Praҫa da Sé Square.

It costs the same five centavos as the Elevador Lacerda, and the trip, which lasts less than a minute, affords a panoramic view of Todos os Santos Bay. Cidade Alta: Praҫa Ramos de Queiros, Praҫa da Sé; Cidade Baixa: Rua Guindaste dos Padres.



Praҫa Tomé de Souza, the oldest square in the city, is a true mosaic of styles. The early 20th century Palácio Rio Branco sits next to the ultramodern Palacio Tome de Souza, built in 1986 to be Salvador’s City Hall.

Nearby, the old Paҫo Municipal building, with its Tuscan arches and columns, contrasts with the art deco faҫade of the Elevador Lacerda tower, and traces of old tram tracks share space with the large number of parked cars that make life difficult for visitors.


Only hints of the foundation of the 16th century Igreja da Se church remain. In 1930, the church and an entire block of 17th, 18th, and 19th century houses were demolished to make way for a new electric tramline, forming what is today Praҫa da Sé.

Between 1950 and 1980 the square functioned as the city’s main bus terminal. By then in a dilapidated state, it underwent a long process of renovation and today is a worthwhile destination for anyone visiting the city’s historical center.

The Cruz Caída (Fallen Cross) monument, by Mario Cravo, that stands in the square was erected in memory of Father Antonio Vieira, a Jesuit who preached in the Igreja da Sé in the 17th century.

Vieira, a man of deep conviction, gained fame for his anti-slavery sermons and writings.


No other place in Salvador pulses like Pelourinho. Its streets and squares, lined by historic, brightly colored houses, constantly buzz with the comings and goings of Brazilians and foreign tourists alike.

They are all here to enjoy Pelourinho’s noteworthy cultural offerings, art shops, bars, and restaurants.

Declared a World Heritage Cultural Site by Unesco in 1985, the heart of the old center, Largo do Pelourinho square, has nearly eight hundred homes from the 17th, 18th, and 19′“ centuries.

Renovations of the historic houses have been underway since 1992, and thus far over five hundred dwellings have been restored.

Up until the 19th century, the square held a whipping post (pelourinho) that was used for criminals and rebel slaves. Take a leisurely stroll up and down the ladeiras (steep alleyways) around the square and let yourself be surprised: along th e alleyway that leads to Forte de Santo Antonio Além do Carmo fort, built in the 17th century, you will pass by Largo Teresa Batista and Largo Quincas Berro d‘ Agua squares (where there are frequent shows, capoeira, and percussion performances).

On Ladeira do Carmo you will come across the beautiful Igreja do Santissimo Sacramento do Passo church, built in 1737 (but closed to visitors for now).

A word of warning: don’t attempt to reach Pelourinho by car as there is nowhere to park, and many streets are closed to traffic. Also, look after your personal belongings.

Pelourinho, though heavily policed, attracts pick-pockets.


The original settlement of Salvador developed inside walls that encompassed the area between what are now called Castro Alves Square and Municipal Square. With the growth of sugarcane cultivation the settlement spread beyond the walls, giving rise to Terreiro de Jesus Square, which is also known as Praҫa Quinze de Novembro.

It is home to the old Igreja do Colegio de Jesus church, now a basilica. Near the 19th century French iron fountain are two other noteworthy churches: 18th century Ordem Terceira de São Domingos de Gusmão and 19th century São Pedro dos Clérigos.


Colegio de Jesus church is where the impassioned and politically engaged Jesuit priest Father Antonio Vieira delivered some of his most important sermons.

The Jesuits built it between 1657 and 1672 to replace the parish’s original, 16th century wattle-and-daub house of worship. Its distinctive limestone walls came to Brazil as ballast on Portuguese ships.

The twin tower Portuguese faҫade is a blend of the Jesuit architectural tradition and unique spiral scrollwork, while the interior combines baroque and rococo styles.

It is well worth taking a close look at the reliquary busts on the altar, the paintings on copper in the sacristy, and the lovely jacaranda chest encrusted with ivory, bone, and tortoiseshell. Praҫa Quinze de Novembro, Terreiro de Jesus, Pelourinho.


Both museums are housed in an early 19th century building that originally served as headquarters for the first medical school in Brazil.

The Museu Afro-Brasileiro collection includes maps of slave traffic routes, a beautiful collection of African orixás statues, and 27 carved cedar panels depicting Candomblé rituals and deities.

The Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia has a small but well organized collection of archaeological material from sites in Bahia, as well as indigenous artifacts and paintings and photographs of the local indigenous population. Praҫa Quinze de Novembro (the old Medical school), Terreiro de Jesus, Pelourinho.


Visitors to 18th century Igreja da Ordem Terceira de São Domingos de Gusmão must be sure to see the nave ceiling, where José Joaquim da Rocha created an allegorical depiction of São Domingo’s entry into heaven.

Da Rocha also painted the murals that decorate the main reception room. The church faҫade has rococo lines but the original carvings inside were replaced by neo-classical works. Terreiro de Jesus, Pelourinho.


The Igreja and Convento de São Francisco, built between 1686 and 1750, is one of the most extraordinary baroque churches in the world and is the most opulent in Brazil.

Eight hundred kilos (1,765 pounds) of gold were used to gild the woodcarvings inside. In Portugal, only the Franciscan Church in Porto has comparable carvings.

In addition to the omnipresent gold decorations, the blue tiles in the church and cloisters depicting scenes from the life of Saint Francis of Assisi are outstanding. Look to one of the side altars for the mournful statue of São Pedro de Alcantara.

On the ground floor of the cloisters are tiled murals inspired by Flemish drawings. The Latin quotations on the tiles are from Horace, a rare example of classical influence in a Brazilian Catholic church. Praҫa Anchieta, Pelourinho.


Igreja da Ordem Terceira de São Francisco and its neighbor, Igreja and Convento de São Francisco, comprise the most impressive architectural ensemble in the city.

The faҫade of the Igreja da Ordem Terceira de São Francisco, the only one of its kind in Brazil, is made entirely of limestone and sandstone carved in the plateresque baroque style (an ornate style popular in 15th and 16th century Spain).

Most of the tiled murals inside portray scenes of Lisbon before the earthquake of 1755 . They also depict the wedding festivities of Dom José, son of the Portuguese monarch Dom João V.

The church remains open during restoration work that began in 2005. Rua da Ordem Terceia (formaly Inácio Accioli), Pelourinho.


The Udo Knoll Museum showcases sections of faҫades from mansions in Salvador and elsewhere in Brazil, as well as Portugal, France, Holland, England, and Italy.

Some date back to the 16th century. The collection, unique in Latin America, is the fruit of thirty years of research by the German ceramic artist Udo Knoff, who lived in Salvador from 1950 until his death in 1994.

The Museu Udo Knoff de Azulejaria e Ceramica also offers ceramics workshops, with lessons in restoration and visits to other museums, galleries, and potteries. Rua Frei Vicente, 3, Pelourinho.


A stop at Fundaҫão Casa de Jorge Amado is a must for admirers of the popular Bahia writer. Foreign visitors who’ve never heard of him will at least gain an appreciation for how revered this creative genius is in his native land.

The museum hosts workshops, courses, and cultural events, and the collection includes videos, photographs, and awards that the writer received during his career.

There is a snack bar and a small gift store that sells his books. Largo do Pelourinho, Pelourinho.


The Museu da Cidade houses statues, votive offerings, paintings, tapestries, and sculptures by local artists, as well as an exhibition the Candomblé religion.

One room is dedicated to the poet Castro Alves, another to traditional buxas de pano (rag witch dolls).

There is a collection of caboclo and cabocla figure replicas. The characters, which represent the fight and reconciliation between Brazil and Portugal, respectively, have been used since the 19th century in the traditional celebration of Bahia independence. Praҫa José de Alencar, 3, Largo. do Pelourinho.


Every Tuesday at 6pm a different kind of Mass is the center of attention in Largo do Pelourinho. Hymns with African rhythms, accompanied by percussion instruments, fill Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos in one of the greatest expressions of syncretism in Bahia.

Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos was the patron saint of slaves, and the church was built by members of the Irmandade de Nossa Senhora dos Homens Pretos do Pelourinho, a local brotherhood of men of African descent. I t took almost the entire 18th century to complete the church, since the slaves could only work on the building during their rare time off. Praҫa José de Alencar, Pelourinho


One of the most valuable collections of sacred art in the country can be seen in the Museu Abelardo Rodrigues in Solar do Ferrão. The museum is located in a beautiful 17th century mansion that formerly served as a Jesuit seminary.

The collection includes statues, drawings, and handcrafted items of precious metal, wood, Antonio Marcelino do Nascimento first began collecting in the 1940s, and today the collection of small rectangles sends visitors on a voyage through time, bearing witness to the many transformations undergone by Salvador and other Brazilian cities.

There is, for example, a 1898 postcard of the first version of the Elevador Lacerda. The Museu Tempostal collection was acquired by the state of Ba hi a in the 1990s and contains more than 35,000 postcards and photographs. Rua Gregório de Matos, 33, Pelourinho.


A steep side street leads to Ordem Terceira do Carmo church. The building was rebuilt in the rococo style in the early 19th century after a fire damaged the church in 1786. It is currently in a poor state of repair.

The church is certainly worth a visit, however, if only to see the magnificent statue of Senhor Morto (the Dead Lord), which was carved in cedar in 1730 by Francisco Xavier Chagas, known as Cabra.

Hundreds of small rubies were used to create the effect of blood streaming from his wounds, a fairly common technique in 18th and 19th century Portuguese-Brazilian statues.

The Igreja da Ordem Terceira do Carmo is part of an architectural ensemble that includes Nossa Senhora do Carmo Church and also a convent of the same name, which has been converted into a hotel.

Nossa Senhora do Carmo’s interior is ornamented with lovely silver and jacaranda pieces. The structure is currently undergoing restoration. Largo do Carmo, Pelourinho.


Pelourinho’s African heritage is celebrated and cultivated by organizations like Casa do Benim (Rua Padre Agostinho Gomes, 17, Pelourinho).

Casa do Benim’s headquarters house a collection of objects from Benin made from gourds, wood, and bronze. The similarities between Bahia and Benin, a country in West Africa, are explored in the photographs of Pierre Verger, which are on permanent exhibit.

Atabaque drum and dance courses are also taught here. Casa da Nigéria (Rua Alfredo de Brito, 26, Pelourinho) offers similar exhibits of artifacts, photographs, and paintings, as well as a Yoruba language course. A kind of unofficial Jamaican embassy, the multifunctional Quilombo do Pelo (Rua Alfredo de Brito, 13, Pelourinho) building houses a show and exhibition area, gift store, restaurant, and guesthouse.

The restaurant serves popular Jamaican dishes, including chicken with curry or spicy jerk sauce, as well as traditional breakfasts of fruit and steamed root vegetables.

Jamaican music lovers flock to Praҫa do Reggae (Largo do Pelourinho, 22,24, and 26), where Carnival bloco shows and rehearsals are held September through March. Despite the name, Praҫa do Reggae also showcases other types of music, including soul, funk, and hip hop.

It also hosts film series every Wednesday and offers capoeira and African dance workshops between April and June.

Lovers of African rhythms will enjoy visiting the Atelie Percussivo Mestre Lua craft workshop (Rra Inácio Accioli, 3, Pelourinho), where „Brazilian“ instruments like the single-string percussion instrument known as the berimbau, the atabaque drum, and the pandeiro (an instrument similar to a tambourine) live side-by-side with „African“ instruments like the djum-djum, djembe, and saba drums.

Lua’s followers play, sing, and perform capoeira on Sundays at 8pm in Terreiro de Jesus Square.


Praҫa Castro Alves offers a view that takes in the whole sweep of Brazilian architectural and cultural history.

The building that today houses the Federaҫão Baiana de Futebol (Bahia Soccer Federation) was formerly the Teatro São João, one of the first theaters in the Brazilian colony.

To the right of the square, a steep street teeming with street vendors leads to a 17th century church, the Igreja da Barroquinha, which was damaged by fire in 1983. Now undergoing restoration, it will eventually house a cultural center. Near the church are busts of the Bahian musicians Dodo and Osmar, who invented the trio elétrico.

Also in the vicinity is Igreja da Ajuda, a church built to replace Salvador’s second chapel. Overlooking the sea is the Conjunto Cultural da Caixa Economica Federal building.

In the 18th century the premises served as a Jesuit rallying point and the place where Father Antonio Vieira used to give his polemical sermons. In the mid-20th century, it served as a refuge for widows and later served as a newspaper’s headquarters for decades.


„The square belongs to the people / just as the sky belongs to the condor,“ wrote the Bahian poet Castro Alves (1847-1871) .The square named in his honor really does belong to the people: it is at the heart of Salvador Carnival celebrations.

Praҫa Castro Alves square was constructed in the 16th century on marshland. The city’s pelourinho (whipping post) stood on the early square, as did the gates of the first city walls. The square affords a magnificent view of Todos os Santos Bay.


Founded by Benedictine monks in 1582, the monastery was one of the first in the Americas. The original building has been altered through the centuries, though modifications have generally stayed true to a design developed by Brother Macário de São João at the end of the 17th century. About thirty monks live a cloistered life here.

Mass is performed daily, and Gregorian chants can be heard on Sundays in the monastery’s church, the sober Basilica de São Sebastião.

The museum in the upper part of the church houses more than two thousand pieces of religious art, furniture, paintings, and hand-crafted items made of precious metal. Among these are important works by Brother Agostinho de Piedade (1580-1661), one of the first sculptors of religious subjects in Brazil, and works by painter José Joaquim da Rocha. Mosteiro de São Bento also has a splendid library with some very rare books and documents. Largo de São Bento, 1, Centro.


The Museu de Arte Sacra da Bahia is in a 17th century complex that used to be the Santa Teresa de Avila Church and Convent. The museum contains one of the most important collections of religious art in Brazil Highlights include a 17th century ivory statue of Christ nailed to a delicately carved jacaranda cross, an enormous sacristy chest, and the silver chapel altar.

The view of Todos os Santos Bay from the museum courtyard is magnificent. A word of warning: Ladeira da Preguiҫa, one of the roads used to access the museum, is not safe; it’s better to take the longer route via Largo Dois de Julho square. Rua do Sodré, 276, Dois de Julho.


The garden around Nossa Senhora da Piedade Church and Convent, a neoclassical building with gilt friezes and Corinthian columns, creates a harmonious image when paired with the 250-meter railings by the artist Carybé.


The Gabinete Portugues de Leitura’s 22,000 volumes of Portuguese and Brazilian literature are housed in an imposing 1917 manuelino-style building.

In its collection is an important set of historical documents. The Centro de Estudos Portugueses, a research center that holds exhibitions and cultural events, is also in the building. Praҫa da Piedade, São Pedro.


The museum collection includes the dress worn by Princess Isabel for the ceremony in which she became Regent of Brazil, as well as a collection of clothes that belonged to female slaves.

Fifteen thousand other items are housed here as well, including furniture, porcelain, works of art, a collection of small shines, and delicate miniature reproductions of church altars dating back to the 19th century. The mansion that houses the museum was built between 1937 and 1939 by educator Henriqueta Catharino to be the Instituto Feminino da Bahia, an institution dedicated to the education of women. Rua Monsenhor Flaviano, 2, Politeana de Cima.


The Museu de Arte da Bahia, founded in 1918, is the oldest museum in the state. In its collection are 16th and 17th century religious statues, furniture, silverware, and porcelain, as well as works by José Joaquim da Rocha, Jose Teófilo de Jesus, and Rodrigues Nunes, masters of the Bahia school of painting.

The museum is in the Palacio da Vitória, a large, neocolonial palace. The palácio, in turn, emerged in 1925 from a renovation and repurposing of the old Solar Cerqueira Lima, where balls and soirees were thrown by nobility during the reign of the Portuguese Empire in the 19th century. Avenida 7 de Setembro, 2340, Corredor da Vitória.


The Carlos Costa Pinto Museum explores the lifestyles of the Brazilian elite from the 17′“ century to the 20th century. More than 3,000 pieces of silverware, crystal, paintings, porcelain, and furniture are on display, including fine examples of Brazilian paintings from the 19th century.

Of particular interest is the collection of the gold and silver trinkets and charms worn by slave girls. The museum also contains the pleasant Café Balangadan. Avenida 7 de Setembro, 2490, Corredor da


Map Beaches of Salvador de Bahia

Map Beaches of Salvador de Bahia


Map of Salvador Beaches


Barra is the birthplace of the city of Salvador, which began as a small village established around the cove where the sea meets the bay.

Originally known as Velha, or Pereira, it was a center for the brazil wood and sugarcane trade and headquarters.

In 1549, Governor General Tomé de Sousa landed at this small cove to establish a seat of colonial power, and transferred the colonial center of administration to Cidade Alta, the upper city.

Nowadays Praia da Barra is the busiest part of the capital and during Carnival serves as the meeting point for several Trios eléctricos. Strolling past its hotels, bars, and restaurants is particularly agreeable at sunset.

Barra is a good point of departure for exploration of the city’s beaches.

Forte de Santo Antonio fort separates Barra from the calm waters of Praia do Porto, and the choppier waters of Praia do Farol, which are more suitable for surfing.

The decagon-shaped fort was the first in Brazil; construction began in 1534. The fort is home to a nautical museum, the Museu Náutico (Largo do Farol da Barra, Barra), which exhibits maps, navigational equipment, models of old ships, and caravels. It also has a cafe, which is open from  8am to 11pm.

Farol da Barra, a lighthouse built in 1698, stands near the fort. It is still functioning, though closed to visitors.


Just past Praia da Barra beach, the Ondina beach shoreline alternates between rough sea and stretches of calm waters created by natural pools surrounded by rocks. It is the second in a series of ten city beaches that become less polluted as you go north.

Rio Vermelho’s beaches, which are just north of Ondina, are not suitable for bathing and serve as ports for local fishermen.


The tranquil Praia de Piatã on the north coast is dotted with barracas (beach huts), bars, and restaurants.

Good tourist facilities are also available. This is particularly true, as well, in Itapuã (27 kilometers, 17 miles, from the city center), a fishing village made legendary through poetic songs. White sand and coconut palms surround barracas serving food and drink.

There is also a base nearby for Projeto Tamar, where visitors can learn about the organization’s work to protect turtles.

Lovely Farol de Itapuã lighthouse towers above the beach’s white sands, but access is restricted. Near Itapuã, the dark waters of the protected Lagoa do Abaeté lagoon contrast with the whiteness of the dunes and the colors of the surrounding vegetation.


Reefs at these beaches create large waves at high tide and natural pools at low tide, making Stella Maris attractive to surfers and bathers alike.

During the summer months some barracas are open into the night. Praia do Flamengo, 3 kilometers (2 miles) north of Stella Maris, has maintained its unspoiled beauty. With its strong waves, the next beach, Aleluia, is a favorite of young people and is home to the popular Barraca do Loro (Avenida Praia do Flamengo), which has another branch in Catussaba beach (Rua do Camping).


The shores of Todos os Santos Bay that stretch from Elevador Lacerda 8 kilometers (5 miles) to the north of Cidade Baixa offer interesting sights.

This walk is usually most interesting during the Bonfim procession in January. Exploring by car or bus allows more time at each stop.


One of the greatest celebrations of syncretism in Bahia – the stair washing ceremony – is celebrated here at the Basilica de Nosso Senhor do Bonfim, which is as sacred to Catholics as it is to Candomblé followers, who worship Oxalá, the god of creation.

Completed in 1772, the church’s rococo faҫade is covered with 19th century Portuguese tiles; the interior architecture is largely neo-classical in style. It’s particularly worth seeing the nave ceiling, the sacristy murals, and the side nave aisle paintings. On the high altar is an impressive statue of Christ brought from Portugal in the mid-18th century.

Every year, on the second Thursday after Epiphany, the Nosso Senhor do Bonfim ceremony is held in the church. It is estimated that nearly one million people participate in the procession that leaves Nossa Senhora da Conceiҫão Church at 10am that day and winds its way toward Bonfim.

Five hundred Bahian women, dressed in traditional white, bless the crowds by sprinkling them with the scented water they carry in jugs on their heads. At the end of the ceremony, the first ten steps of the church stairs are ritually purified with scented water, flowers, and herbs. Afterward, prayers give way to less sacred celebrations that include music and feasting on the streets.

The festival is approximately two hundred years old, as is the tradition of tying .fitinhas do Senhor do Bonfim (festival ribbons) around the wrist or to the church railings, making three wishes in the process, one for each knot.

The wishes are granted, they say, when the ribbons come untied naturally. Largo do Bonfim.


Live goats and chickens, medicinal herbs, Candomblé objects … everything is sold at the São Joaquim market, the most authentic of the forty or so openair markets in Salvador. The noise of the animals mixes with the cries of 7,000 vendors who showcase their wares in a labyrinth of stalls.

Visiting such a market is a rare experience, and anyone wanting to live it should go in the morning, when it is cleaner, and the fruits and vegetables are fresher. While in the area, take the opportunity to visit nearby Mercado de Ouro (Rua Torquato Bahia, 84, Comércio), the so-called gold market, also home to Juarez Restaurante, famous for its traditional filet mignon. Market: Avenida Oscar Portes, Calҫada.


Forte de Monte Serrat was built to prevent ships from entering the port of Salvador. Due to its strategic position at the northern city limits, it complemented the protection afforded by Forte de Santo Antonio da Barra, at the southern end of the city.

But it was only after expulsion of the Dutch by the Portuguese that most of the fifteen forts in Salvador were constructed.

Centuries later, the wonderful view of the bay remains largely the same, but the Forte de Monte Serrat today houses the Museu da Armaria (Rua Santa Rita Durão, Monte Serrat), a museum of weapons from colonial times to today.

Forte de São Diogo, built between 1625 and 1634, is also on Porto da Barra beach (Rua do Forte de São Diogo, Porto da Barra).

Today visitors look at models of the forts of Salvador and watch a video in Portuguese, English, and Spanish that explains the role these forts played in coastal defense. Every day at noon the fort fires its cannon.

Originally built of wood on a sandbank 300 meters (980 feet) out into the bay, Forte de São Marcelo (Avenida da Franҫa, Comércio, Centro Náutico da Bahia) was rebuilt in stone in 1624 and given its current, circular form in the course of subsequent construction in 1690.

„Forte do Mar“ {„Fort of the Sea“), as Forte de São Marcelo is called, can be reached only by boat, which depart from Centro Náutico da Bahia (The Bahia Nautical Center).


Irmã Dulce (1914-2003), a nun, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her humanitarian work. Visitors come to view photographs and personal objects. Avenida Bonfim, 161, Roma.


Visitors flock to Rio Vermelho for its acarajé stalls (the most traditional in the city) and lively nightlife.

It’s also pleasant to stand on Rio Vermelho Beach, whose deep, rocky waters are stirred by the comings and goings of fishing boats. Nearby on the same sands, a small, discreet, white house with a blue door and windows – the colors being those of the African sea goddess Iemanjá – and an area for offerings hints that this neighborhood is a center for the popular Iemanjá festivities. To earn the sea goddess’s lifesaving protection, fisherman offer her flowers, perfume, and other sundries that might be favored by a fickle woman.


At the end of the day, locals and tourists alike congregate in Largo da Mariquita square at the Mercado do Rio Vermelllo market (daily, 24 hours a day). It’s a perfect spot for watching the sunset, chatting, enjoying a cold beer, and savoring tasty snacks from one of the approximately 30 stalls.

It tends to get busier after 2am, and the revelry often continues till dawn.


Every year on February 2nd Rio Vermelho beach is taken over by thousands of the faithful. Dressed in white, they chant, dance, and make offerings of pees, flowers, and mirrors to the goddess of the seas, Iemanjá.

Festa de lemanjá culminates in a ritual where a boat is set out to sea carrying a statue of the goddess, followed by dozens of rafts, launches, and sailboats. After gifts have been thrown into the waters, the boats return to the beach and the trios eléctricos create a Carnival-like atmosphere.

Another festival custom is feijoada de Iemanjá (black beans with pork), which can be eaten in the neighborhood’s restaurants.


Rio Vermelho is well known for having the best acarajé makers in the city.

Acarajé is a small cake made with a paste of cooked black-eyed peas that is stuffed with vatapá and shrimp and fried in dell dende palm oil.

The women selling them on the street are unmistakable: they wear traditional full skirts, blouses, and turbans of white.

Necklaces and bracelets adorn their necks and wrists. These adornments represent and honor Candomblé deities.

The turban is symbolic of Arab influence in North Africa, while the white clothes represent the rough cloth worn by slaves.

The acarajé, as well as several other traditional foods including vatapá and caruru, which the Brazilian government recently recognized as masterpieces of „intangible“ cultural heritage.


Situated near the shoreline, Parque Metropolitano do Pituaҫu is one of the largest green spaces in Salvador. Vegetation reminiscent of Atlantic forest covers its 1,050 hectares, and the park is crisscrossed by 15 kilometers (9 miles) of bike lanes shaded by cashew trees, dende, and coconut palms.

Pedal boats can be rented to explore the park’s lake. The park contains the Espaҫo Mario Cravo gallery, where a thousand sculptures donated to the state by the l3ahian artist are exhibited.

Cravo is most famed for his giant depictions of African dieties. Park: Avenida Otávio Mangabeira, Pituaҫu; Espaҫo Mario Cravo: Jardim Iracema, Portal Pituaҫu.

Salvador de Bahia travel Guide and tourism information such as accommodation, festivals, transport, maps, activities and attractions in Bahia, Brazil – Brazil Travel Guide

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