Salvador de Bahia: what to see

September 18, 2019

Colorful, chaotic, lively, multi-ethnic: Salvador de Bahia is certainly one of the most interesting cities in Brazil ... and not just for its fabulous beaches!

Houses in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil

Thinking of cities like Salvador de Bahia in Brazil, for locals simply Salvador, one imagines dances, colors, beautiful beaches. The capital of the state of Bahia is actually all this, added to a great cultural heritage.

Overlooking the rocky and sandy things of the Atlantic Ocean, Salvador is also an access point to the splendid Chapada Diamantina National Park and is the Brazilian city that has welcomed more African slaves: a detail to keep in mind, because African culture is still very present in the lives of the inhabitants.

irst of all, we need to know that Salvador has incorporated several quilombos, communities founded by black slaves who escaped from the plantations during the colonial era. These fugitives took refuge in the forest, where they lived hidden. Salvador has included two ancient quilombos: Calabar and Liberdade.

In addition to the multicultural ferment, Salvador is appreciated for the beaches, including Porto da Barra, Itapua, Pituba and Artisti, dotted with bars and quaint restaurants serving fresh beer and fish dishes, in addition to 'acarajé, a fried pancake based on beans that is typical of the local gastronomy of African influence.

The multiethnic population is composed in fact mostly of descendants of African slaves, descendants of Europeans, and for the rest of Asians and descendants of the indigenous peoples.

The climate of Salvador de Bahia is tropical, warm all year round, with a maximum of 37 degrees and a minimum of 15. Rainfall is constant but short.

If you are leaving for Brazil and Salvador is a stop on your itinerary, let's discover together something more about this charming city.

Street of Salvador de Bahia in Brazil
Salvador de Bahia is the Brazilian city which has been most influenced by African culture.

The history of Salvador

Salvador was founded in 1549 on "Baía de Todos-os-Santos" ("Bay of All Saints"). It was initially the first capital of Brazil and the first colonial port: here the slaves imported from Africa landed, chained, before being sent to work in the plantations. In 1763 the capital of Brazil became Rio de Janeiro. Salvador became instead an important center for the Brazilian independence movements, besieged for this reason by the Portuguese in 1812. It was liberated only with the independence of Brazil, obtained in 1822.

In the early decades of the twentieth century, Salvador was not a very developed city. It was not until the 1940s that it began to flourish again thanks to the intervention of Petrobras and the discovery of oil in Bahia, which gave rise to mining activity. Salvador also remained an important commercial hub of the state, with a very busy port. Starting from the 60s, Salvador also began to be an increasingly popular tourist destination, so much so that today it is considered one of the most beautiful and popular cities among visitors.

View of Salvador de Bahia in Brazil
Salvador de Bahia is one of the most colorful and beautiful cities in Brazil.

Top 10 attractions

Today, Salvador lives mainly on cultural tourism, also due to the local folklore, which lives on for example in the colorful Carnival, slightly different from that of Rio, but which attracts about 800 thousand spectators in the week of festivities.

Among the places not to be missed during a stay in Bahia we suggest these 10:

  1. Pelourinho: it is the historical center and Unesco Heritage. Literally its name means "pillory pole", because slaves were slaughtered here.

  2. Elevador Lacerda: an elevator built in the port area by the engineer Lacerda between 1869 and 1873.

3.Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Lord: a baroque style church with bells brought directly from Portugal.

  1. Palácio Rio Branco: located in Pelourinho, initially housed the governor of the state of Bahia. Made in Belle Epoque style inspired by the architecture of the French Renaissance.

  2. Praça da Sé: a square in Pelourinhno, next to the Cathedral of Salvador. In the middle you see the statue of Zumbi, who ruled the slave revolt.

  3. Mercado Modelo: very famous and popular craft market, near the Lacerda elevator.

  4. Forte de Santo Antônio: built in 1698 it now houses a nautical museum and exhibitions on the slave trade.

  5. Jorge Amado house-museum foundation: located in Pelourinho, this museum house is dedicated to Jorge Amado, a famous Brazilian writer who never lived here.

  6. Afro-Brasileiro Museum: again in the Pelourinho, inside the University, this museum illustrates with photographs and objects the history of the African influence on the culture of Bahia.

  7. Museu de Arte de Bahia: one of the oldest museums in Brazil, founded in 1918. It presents the history of the state of Bahia from an ethnographic, historical and scientific point of view.

Colorful historic center of Salvador de Bahia, Brazil
If you're interested in local lore, Salvador de Bahia is the place for you.

Feel like traveling to Brazil now, don't you?

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