The CITY of SALVADOR
A chapter on the city of Salvador can not start better than with theHistorical Center, a unique and gorgeous architectural complex of old houses and manor-houses in colonial style, churches, squares, monuments, belvedere’s and narrow streets paved with cobblestones, registered and protected by UNESCO as World Heritage Site, also affectionately called as Pelourinho (Pillory). This name comes from one of the squares in the Center where before was placed a pillory, a raised column where slaves were tied to, to be punished and humiliated in public. The Pelourinho was the centre of the city in the first centuries of its existence and, therefore, the greater place for the commerce of slaves, one of the most important commercial activities at the time. Therefore, the Pelourinho has a special meaning for the Afro-Brazilian population of the city, who left a lot of blood on the cobblestones of its streets and who can, today, return in great number to its squares, bars and restaurants and participate of the innumerable cultural activities or commemorate historical dates and remember, as free citizens now, their suffered past and their fundamental participation in the construction of the city of Salvador, the state of Bahia and Brazil itself.
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The Pelourinho is the best place to learn more about the history of the city, to know its past as first capital of the colony of Brazil. At the same time, it is the best place to discover the Bahian culture and the festive side of its people... to discover that it is here that you can meet the land of the happiness!
The main squares that are part of the Historical Center and that you have to visit are the Square Tomé de Souza (or Municipal Square), where you find the old Palace of the Governors, the Chamber of Councilmen and the City Hall and a spectacular panoramic view on the Bay of All Saints; the Praça da Sé with the vestiges of the first Cathedral of Brazil, the Terreiro de Jesus where are situated the Cathedral Basilica and two more churches and, finally, the Largo do Pelourinho itself. As Salvador has one church for each day of the calendar, it's not possible to visit them all, but don't miss at least the Church of San Francisco with the Convent on the side, the Cathedral and, eventually, the Church of the Rosary of the Black People and the Church and Convent of the Carmelites.
The cultural effervescence, with artistic and musical attractions, you can find on the squares Quincas Berro d'Água, Pedro Arcanjo and Teresa Batista (the program is elaborated by the Secretary and has to be consulted), or just straight in the streets of the Pelourinho! A especial day is Tuesday of every week, during the whole year, when the famous “Terça da benção” happens and brings a lot of animation to the Pelourinho! Don't forget that the neighbourhood is an excellent place to buy tourist souvenirs and typical handicraft in the innumerable stores, and to taste a delightful typical plate, like the Moqueca, or a drink, like the Caipirinha, in one of the cosy restaurants and bars spread all over the Historical Center.
Speaking about shopping, from the Pelourinho to the famous and frequented Mercado Modelo (Model Market), it's only a jump. Go to the Municipal Square, take the famous Lacerda Elevator and go down to the Lower City, more in specific to the neighbourhood called “Comércio” where you can find the old port warehouse transformed into the "shopping for the tourists". On the first floor of the Market are two restaurants that offer typical Bahian food and have a terrace from which you can enjoy a fabulous sunset above the calm waters of the Bay at the end of the afternoon (somewhat between 5 pm., in the winter, and 6 pm., in the summer).
Close to there, going up the Avenue Contorno, you find the Solar do Unhão, a gorgeous tourist site that is worth the visit because of the privileged localization on the border of the Bay of All Saints, the historical and architectural complex and by the fact that it shelters the Museum of Modern Art, with a permanent outdoor exhibition showing the work of famous Bahian artists, like Mário Cravo Junior and Carybé.
Going up a little more, we have the old convent of Saint Tereza that shelters the Museum of Sacred Art and a gorgeous small chapel, all situated in a beautiful green garden with privileged sight on the bay... a little oasis in the busy centre of the city.
Going up a bit more, you arrive in the Upper City, at the Square of Castro Alves with the statue of the famous poet of Bahia and a delicious panoramic view. Going in direction of the Campo Grande, through the Avenue of Sete de Setembro (Seventh of September, remembering the day and month of the independence of Brazil), you pass the Church and Convent of São Bento. On the Campo Grande (Big Square) you have the Theater Castro Alves, an example of modern architecture in Bahia, and the monument of Dois de Julho (Second of July), day of the independence of Bahia. Continuing in direction of Barra, we pass the nice Corridor of Vitória full of trees, with the Museum of Art of Bahia and the Museum Costa Pinto, and descending the Ladeira (Slope) of Barra we pass the Church of Saint Anthony of Barra. Arriving at the Port of Barra and following the Oceanic Avenue, you will find the Fort of Saint Anthony, the very famous Lighthouse of Barrra and finally the Christ Redeemer.
Another tourist area of the city that you cannot fail to visit is thepeninsula of Itapagipe that offers natural and historical scenes of great beauty, besides being the most indicated area to enjoy the gorgeous sight of the Bay of All Saints and its diverse islands. A stroll can start at the Fort of Monte Serrat, that is considered one of the most beautiful military monuments of Bahia for its harmonious lines. On its side is the Point of Humaitá, with a little church, convent and lighthouse. From this point you have a fantastic view on the Upper City and the whole Bay of All Saints and you can enjoy the prettiest and most romantic sunset of the city. Continuing through the streets that follow the contour of the Bay, you passes the belvedere of the Sagrada Família hospital, that offers a spectacular view on the Lower City, the port and the Upper City. Soon after that you arrive on a square with imperial palm trees, majestically situated in top of the Colina Sagrada (Sacred Hill), with the Church of Bonfim. It is the most important and visited church of Salvador, that has venerates Our Lord of Bonfim (Good End), nobody else than Jesus himself for the followers of the Catholic Church, or Oxalâ, the most important African god for the followers of the Candomblé. Descending the Sacred Hill you arrive at the old Port of Bonfim where you can follow the pretty and pleasant Avenue Beira Mar (Border of the Sea) and enjoy the traditional tranquillity of the quarter of Ribeira, remembering a time where this place was full of "summer" residences of rich families. The night life of Ribeira is lively due to the great number of bars and restaurants that offer local dishes based on seafood, good music and a romantic environment.