The first capital of Brazil, Salvador is a potpourri of races, culture, beliefs and flavours. The city has Portuguese, Indigenous and African roots, which is reflected in the manifestation of its culture and art - particularly music - and in its cuisine, based on strong spices. Salvador is the world’s biggest African city outside of Africa. Over 80% of its population is made up of afro-descendants. Carnival and religious parties are great attractions.
Indeed, African influence is easily seen throughout the city, with capoeira, a mix of dancing and fighting developed by slaves, at the Modelo Market, where Candomblé rhythms are played on agogo bells and atabaque drums (percussion instruments). This strong African heritage has earned Salvador the nickname of the Black Rome. The capital of the state of Bahia is also the Northeast's economic centre and is Brazil’s third largest city in population terms, with a little over 3 million people.
The historical centre is an architecture relic and the biggest icon is the Pelourinho, with 350 buildings inscribed in UNESCO’s World Heritage list. The Lacerda Lift, the Santo Antônio da Barra Fort, the São Francisco Convent and the Barra Lighthouse, several other historical buildings and many churches - 365 in total, one for every day of the year - beef up the list of attractions.
In addition to natural beauty and the historical vibe, the city has a variety of scenarios to offer that go from calm coves, ideal for the practice of sports such as diving and deep sea fishing, some surrounded by reefs and natural pools, to others in the open sea with strong waves, usually in with surfers.
Main tourist attractions
Salvador’s privileged topography is one of its appealing attributes. There is a clear division between the Cidade Baixa and Cidade Alta (High and Low City), both connected to each other by one of Salvador’s main tourist sites, the Lacerda Lift. However, Pelourinho is the city's most important tourist attraction. The historic centre, surrounded by churches and colourful colonial houses has been inscribed in UNESCO's World Heritage List since 1985.
Salvador Historic Centre
The Cidade Baixa (Low City) - like the Port - is narrow because of there is not a lot of space between the hills and the sea. The houses are more elevated than in Cidade Alta (High City) and even in the 18th century, they lined up narrowly towards Itapahipe. In 1714, alongside the beach, a road with two and three storey houses was built. Soon after, neighbourhoods started being built near Sé and Arruda, followed by the São Bento and Carmo neighbourhoods. In 1985, Salvador’s historic centre was inscribed in the World Heritage List by UNESCO.
One of Salvador’s main tourist sites. During slavery days, it is where slaves were taken to be punished. The square is surrounded by several old colonial houses, among them, the mansion that today houses the Jorge Amado Foundation and churches such as the Rosário dos Homens Pretos and the Basilica Cathedral, two examples of colonial architecture. The Pelourinho really stands out in terms of tourist attractions when visiting Salvador, the area offers restaurants that serve the best Bahia state cuisine, handcrafts, baroque architecture, religion, cultural centres and the legitimate Olodum drum beats.
Built in 1861 to work as a Customs Office, the building started to house the Modelo Market back in 1971. It has kept its original neoclassical architecture even after two fires (1969 and 1984). There are 271 shops that offer a great variety of handcrafts, gifts and souvenirs, as well as traditional restaurants that serve food from the Bahia cuisine. Another attraction is the capoeira circles that are held behind the building.
Address: Praça Visconde de Cayrú no bairro do comércio – Cidade Baixa
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday – from 09:00am to 07:00pm – Sundays and Holidays - from 09:00am to 02:00pm
Building works started in 1869 and after being opened officially, it became the main mean of transport between the High and Low city. Initially, its operations started using two lifts, but currently, it uses four electric lifts that are able to transport up to 20 passengers each. Throughout its history it has undergone renovations four times. In fact, in the second renovation endeavour in 1930, another two lifts were added to the structure, with a new tower in art deco.
Address: Praça Visconde Cayru, Bairro do Comércio.
Telephone: (71) 3243-4030
Opening hours: daily from 07:00am to 11:00pm
Cathedral Salvador’s current Cathedral is part of the old Jesuit Convent and School, which is no longer there, but was the most important of its kind during colonial times. It was built between 1652 and 1672. Due to its artistic collection and monument like quality, it is considered by many experts the most important religious building in Brazil from colonial times. Its façade and inside were built with Lioz marble, shipped over from Portugal already cut and shaped to be used.
Address: Largo Terreiro de Jesus – Centro.
Telephone: (71) 3321-457
Population: 2,676,606 people
Vegetation: Atlantic Forest
Area: 706,799 km²
Altitude: 8 metres
Area code: 71
Voltage: 110 V
Climate: Atlantic tropical
Average temperature: 27 C
For further information
Government of Bahia - Secopa
+ 55 (71) 3115-6515 / (71) 3115.6015
Salvador City Hall
+ 55 (71) 3172-8441
Secretariat of Tourism
Tourist Information Office - Bahiatursa
+55 (71) 3489-9794
Open Media Centre – Salvador