Salvador, the city is not only enchanting but also a proof of wonderful diversity of life in Brazil. Salvador is the capital and colonial city of Bahia, which is the most African state of Brazil and adds to the colorful cultural diversity with spectacular coastal views and night life. Salvador is the city that puts smile on your face when you think about it and the time you have spent over here.
While visiting Salvador, you not only enjoy the amazing attractions but also learn the amazing Afro-Brazilian culture straight from its roots. The city is also a hub of arts, cultural performances, and activities. You can spend amazing time at the beaches, bars and visit wonderful art galleries and museums in this historic city. The city is divided between the upper town and the lower town by a large escarpment which are connected by an urban elevator since 1985. The African dominance comes from the fact that Salvador was one of the first slave ports in Brazil.
History of Salvador Brazil
Salvador was first reached by Gasper de Lemos in 1501 after one year of Brazil’s discovery by Cabral. The Italian explorer “Amerigo Vespucci” named the bay as the Holy Savior of All Saints because he sighted the bay on All Saints’ Day in 1502. The city of Salvador was established in 1549 as a fortress of Sao Salvador da Bahia de Todos os Santos. It means “Holy Savior of all the Bay of Saints” by the Portuguese residents making it one of the oldest cities founded by Europeans in Americas. Tome de Sousa became the first governor general and the city became the first capital of Brazil.
The city also became a major port for trading of slaves and sugarcane. The city was divided by a large escarpment which created the upper and lower parts of the city. The upper city became the administrative, religious, and primary residential district, and the lower city became a commercial center and a market due to the port. The government of Brazil was divided into separate governorates in Bahia in the north and Rio de Janeiro in the south in 1572. After six years both were united as Brazil but again were divided between 1607 and 1613. During this time, Portugal was united with Spain and was ruled by Kings from Madrid. The governorates were replaced by the states in 1621 by King Philip III.
Salvador played a very important role against the Dutch Brazil when Spain was prosecuting a war against the independence of the Dutch. Salvador was captured and sacked by the West India Company fleet under the command of Jacob Willekens and Piet Dein on 10th of May 1624. After a year, the city was recaptured by the Luso-Spanish fleet under “Fadrique Alvarez de Toledo y Mendoza” in May 1625. There were two attempts by John Maurice to recapture the city in 1638 within two months but both failed. The colonial administration shifted to Ri de Janeiro in 1763 but Salvador remained the capital of Bahia because of its agriculture and port importance. On 2 July 1823, the town was surrendered by Portugal to Brazil as a result of declaration of independence. Now, 2nd of July is celebrated as the Bahia’s Independence Day. The town gradually began to industrialize, and the upper and lower parts of the town were connected by a power hydraulic elevator in 1873. The elevator went through several upgrades and is still in use.
The Pelourihno neighborhood of Salvador was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985. The Porto da Barra Beach was named as the 3rd best beach in the world by British Guardian Newspaper. The city of Salvador also hosted the 2014 FIFA world Cup in Brazil.
21 Wonderful Attractions in Salvador Brazil
Pelourinho Salvador Brazil
Pelourinho is the postcard of Salvador located in the heart of the old city. It is the perfect base for discovering Salvador’s historic architecture and pastel colored buildings along with the cobble stone streets. This place has restaurants, bars, shopping, cultural information centers, and live music going on all the time. Pelourinho became a UNESO World Heritage Site in 1985 and got more famous when videos of famous music stars were shot here including Michael Jackson. Pelourinho is derived from pillory because the place was used for the punishment of slaves and criminals.
Baia de Todos Santos
Baia de Todos Santos or the Bay of All Saints is highly famous for watching the best sunsets in Brazil. The bay is larger than Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro and is a very important factor in the city’s economy. Local artists play Bahian beats from 6pm until the sun sets which makes it an incredible experience for the visitors. It gets crowdy and can become difficult for some people to watch their belongings as the pickpockets try to take advantage of the crowd and the distraction. The best way to enjoy a care-free sunset is to find a table in the nearby café or restaurant and watch the sunset while enjoying a drink or coffee.
Elevador Lacerda in Salvador Brazil
As we talked about it before twice, this elevator has become a wonderful tourist attraction because it takes you from lower city to the upper city and vice versa with superb views of the surroundings and the bay. The height difference between the two parts is 85 meters and the elevator takes you up or down in 30 seconds throughout the day. This elevator is one of its kind and is one of the most famous elevators in the world because its nestled in the historic center of Salvador and carries around 900,000 people every month. The single journey is charged around 80 cents, but it is worth the cost for the tourists as the views are just superb.
Porto da Barra Beach
Porto da Barra beach is not only the best beach of Salvador, but it is also named as the 3rd best beach in the world by British Guardian Newspaper. The beautiful little beach with a crescent of golden sands gets filled with locals, tourists, and beach goers. The beach is also famous for its beautiful sunsets and amazing calm water.
Praia do Farol da Barra
This is another wonderful beach in Salvador which is famous for strolling along the gentle crashing waves. The beach is wide, clean and is a superb venue for new year’s celebrations.
One of the interesting things to do in Salvador is to find the show or rehearsal hosted by Olodum which is a traditional Afro-Brazilian Band. This group has been around since the 70’s and are famous for their annual Caranaval Bloco. There is always a show or a rehearsal going around by this group in Salvador and you can easily get a glimpse of it and will love it if you like the diversity of music.
Churches of Salvador Brazil
Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos
This church was built in 18th century by the slaves who were not allowed to worship in the churches where their masters went. The church still thrives today with its two bells and the nice structure painted in pale blue and white with neoclassical altars. Users are welcome to observe and the services are a mix of Catholicism and Candomblé.
Cathedral Basilica of Salvador
This church was built by the Jesuits on site of their very first church on the Terriro de Jesus square. The church has a very elegant exterior and the interior of the church glitters with gold and frescos.
Nosso Senhor do Bonfim Church
The Nosso Senhor do Bonfim church represents the co-existence of the two predominant religions in the area which are Catholicism and Candomblé. This church is also the most famous in Salvador with the annual Lavagem do bonfim being a widely celebrated festival.
Markets of Salvador Brazil
Mercado Modelo is one of the best markets to pick up lovely souvenirs of Salvador. There are hundreds of stalls in the market that sell local and traditional stuff of Bahia. Most of the products are locally made ranging from food, clothes, shoes, jewelry, paintings, and local wine.
Feira São Joaquim
Feira São Joaquim is a superb market if you want to dive deep into the culture and tradition of Salvador. This is the purest form of a region’s market where you will find everything local that also include live animals for sale. There is a huge variety of vegetables, fruits, spices, and dried fruits.
São Marcelo Fort of Salvador Brazil
You will notice this cylindrical fort from the upper city especially while using the Elevador Lacerda. The São Marcelo Fort was described as the “belly button of Bahia” by the novelist Jorge Amado. The fort was used as a defense by the Portuguese in the 17th century to protect the city from invaders. Although, the fort looks beautiful, but you cannot enter as it is not open for the public.
Farol de Barra of Salvador Brazil
Farol de Barra is the black and white lighthouse in Salvador which has guided ships safely since 1698. It stands tall on the city’s southern tip overlooking the Bay of All Saints. The lighthouse is part of the Santo Antonio fort along with the Nautical Museum. The light house can be climbed up and you can also watch it being turned on and off in the morning and evening.
Rio Vermelho Salvador Brazil
Rio Vermelho is the famous hipster neighborhood where the city’s young and bohemian hang out at night. Rio Vermelho or the Red River area is filled with people at night who come to enjoy the night life, music, and food. There are many bars, clubs, and shops in Rio Vermelho.
Art Centers and Museums of Salvador Brazil
Museu de Arte Moderna
Museu de Arte Moderna is located in a large old colonial manor house which has its own sculpture garden and a school. This museum of modern art hosts up to five exhibitions inside and a live concert outside on every Saturday evening.
Balé Folclórico da Bahia
This is one of the most amazing show that depicts the Bahian’s history and culture. The performances display the local folk tales through dances, music, costumes and acting. The show is hosted in a small theater in the lovely Pelourinho and is famous to amuse the audience.
Palacete das Artes
Palacete das Artes has connection with the Musee Rodin in Paris and has four of the French Sculptor’s pieces along with other works.
Fundação Casa de Jorge Amado
This museum displays the work of Jorge Amado who is one of the Brazil’s most famous and accomplished writers. He was born in Bahia and he lived in Salvador in Casa do Rio Vermelho with his wife.
Rio Branco Palace
Rio Branco Palace was built in 1549 and is one of the oldest palaces in Brazil. The Rio Branco palace has been renovated several times over the years. The palace also served as a home for the state governors. The palace is one of the city’s architectural wonders that exhibits many medals and memorabilia from the governors of Bahia.
Fundação Pierre Verger
Fundação Pierre Verger displays the overview of the life of a French photographer, Pierre Verger. He made Salvador his home and the focus of much of his work. His work is inspired by the African culture and the Candomblé Religion.
Casa do Comérico
Casa do Comérico is a cultural center located in the heart of the city. This cultural center is run by the state and has a cinema, theater, and a restaurant. This building is a beautiful example of architecture built for the purpose which houses many enjoyable performances by the local artists.
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