Salvador has the energy and unembellished beauty that only a few cities can match. This city was once the spectacular capital of the New World colony of Portugal, but today the pulsating heart of the Afro-Brazilian community of the country. Its brightly-hued centre is a living museum of golden-laden churches and seventeenth- and eighteenth-century architecture. Here are the top must-see attractions in Salvador, Brazil.
Igreja NS do Bonfim
According to one of my well-travelled bar owner who gives out custom made custom made drink chips, the popular eighteenth-century church, located some kilometers just north of Comerica is the source of the colored ribbons (fitas) that is seen everywhere in Salvador, a symbol of Bahia and a church souvenir. In the Room of Miracles (Sala dos Milagres), devotees leave ex-votos, letters, and photos.
Pelourinho is Cidade Alta’s centerpiece; this UNESCO World Heritage site features magnificent churches and colonial buildings. Wander through the cobblestone streets to gaze up at the oldest architecture in the city. Cultural centers as well as schools of capoeira, dance, and music pack these seventeenth- and eighteenth-century buildings. Thanks to UNESCO funding, this place has undergone significant restoration work. Admittedly, the Pelourinho has in this process lost most of its character, but it is an understatement to say that it’s now better and safer.
Museu Nautico da Bahia
The superb nautical museum contains relics and exhibits from the days of seafaring and displays on the slave trade. Also, it offers excellent views on the surroundings. All information in this museum is offered in both English and Portuguese.
Largo do Pelourinho
This picture-perfect square was once the whipping post site – one of many close-by locations where many slaves were punished and exposed. In 1835, when slavery was abolished, this neighborhood soon fell into absolute disrepair. Major renovation efforts were initiated in the 1990s to preserve the colonial houses and churches of the cobblestone square. The square is today the heart of this historic center.
Home to one of the most important collections in Bahia, this museum exhibits pottery, baskets, wood carvings, and other crafts and artwork linking African and Brazilian artistic conditions. The highlight of the Museu Afro-Brasileiro is a room filled with magnificent carved wooden panels illustrating orishas (spirits popular in Afro-Brazilian spirituality) by Carybe, who is the most renowned twentieth-century fine artist in Salvador.
The original nineteenth-century Customs House, where slaves were first housed once they arrived in the country was destroyed partly in 1986 in a fire. After restoration, this place was transformed into a market. The Mercado Modelo is a nice spot to pick up trinkets, and some cafes offer a seating area with spectacular views of the bay.