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Things to do in Salvador

  • Pelourinho Pelourinho, Bahia, Salvador, Brazil
    When you go to Salvador, Brazil, situated on a peninsula located on Bahia's coast, you have to visit the most historic area of Pelourinho, with its cobblestone streets and colorful colonial buildings.  Pelourinho is the older city within the city of Salvador and means whipping post in Portuguese; where slaves were punished in the days of slavery.  It was abolished in 1835 and since that horrid past, the city has grown into a mecca of musicians and artists, much like Greenwich Village in New York.  Its nickname is Pelo or Cidade Alta with many blocks of the older buildings surrounding a triangular Largo and contains the city's best restaurants, nightclubs and boutiques.  Even with the influx of artisans coming into the area, the 1990s brought a renaissance of restoration and renovation that revitalized the area making it more popular to tourists and visitors from around the country and continent.  It has been placed on the national historic register and was named a world cultural center by UNESCO.  Walking is the main transportation in the area with everything in close proximity.  Every street has something to offer the visitor with grand old churches, pastel-hued houses and buildings, restaurants, shops and galleries.  The winter months of June through August, just the opposite of the United States and North America, is sometimes rainy and days cool enough for a jacket.  The rest of the time it is very hot, however tempered by the ocean and bay breezes.  Use a hotel or pousada that is recommended by a reputable site, such as Frommers or Tripadvisor, and use the bus service around the city which is cheaper than a cab; as these will sometimes take advantage of a visitor not used to the language and local customs.  The local cuisine is a flavorful mixture of Brazilian and African dishes, with a big use of coconuts, shrimp, spices, ginger, hot peppers, dende oil made from palm trees, but should be used sparingly until your stomach is used to it.  Advice is given to try the comida-a-quilo restaurants which allow you to serve yourself and pay by the weight.  The city itself is located on a plateau overlooking the harbor area and has become a cultural center with artists from all genres coming to the city to enjoy its bountiful fruits.   

  • Solar do Unhao
    The Solar is an impressive architectural structure that housed the Chapel  of Our Lady, then it became a private home, with an aqueduct for water delivery to the house, a fountain and later became a place to store slaves before selling them on the open market.  It housed a still at one time, probably to distill sugar cane into alcohol; and because of these various uses, now houses the Museum  of Modern Art of Bahia.  The land was given to the Benedictine monks in 1584, and then changed hands in 1690 to Unhao Pedro Castelo Branco, who then sold the property to Jose Pires de Carvalho e Albuquerque in 1700.  He then established a morgado and the land went into a golden phase from that time until the early 20th century.  A chapel was built on the grounds in 1740 and a christening of his children occurred.  As the years progressed, the sugar industry declined and the house was rented out; which caused some dilapidation to happen.  Then in the early 19th century, one of the family moved back in and restored the home to its pristine condition, and again a sugar mill was operated from there until 1926.  The area where the still had been was used for storage for the port and then when World War II started, it became a barracks for the marines.  In 1940, after much decay, the home was given to the department of National Historical and Artistic Heritage and was designated to become the home of the Museum of Modern Art of Bahia.  Lina Bo Bardi came to help restore the magnificent building in 1969 and it was opened the same year.  There are 8 rooms dedicated to art, an exhibition hall, a theater, auditorium, video room, library and specialized database.  The old slave quarters have been turned into a restaurant specializing in the Bahaian cuisine.  The main building or the manor contains the museum, with its contemporary art totaling over a 1000 works by various Brazilian artists.  The outside area has become a garden of sculptures and opened in 1997 with great works by the Brazilian sculptors.
     

  • Historic City Center
    Salvador meaning savior in Portuguese, is found on the northeast coast of Brazil and is the capital of the state of Bahia.  It is known as the capital of happiness because of the easygoing people and numerous outdoor parties; especially the street carnival.  It was the country's first capital and is one of the oldest cities in country and even the New World.  Known as Bahia for a long time, it is the third most populated city in Brazil and known for its outstanding cuisine, architecture and music.  The metro area is the richest in the area with almost 80% having ancestral roots from Africa.  This influence is seen in many of the Afro-Brazilian culture and the buildings were built in the 17th centuries.  It was made a UNESCO site in 1985 and is a fantastic adventure to experience.  It is a main export hub, having a natural harbor inside the triangular peninsula with roads going into the interior which is a huge agricultural and industrial region.  The natural escarpment helps the city be divided and over the years has helped it develop into the magnificent and beautiful city it is.  Most of the administrative areas are above the lower city and an elevator has run between the two since 1873. 

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  • Porto da Barra BeachPorto da Barra Beach Salvador, Brazil
    Considered the third best beach in the entire world, this beach in Salvador, Brazil is a brilliant sandy beach that sits just below the city and is at the beginning of the Bahia de Todos os Santos, the main bay into the port.  Sitting at the uttermost point at one end is an old historic fort that was used to protect the city and the bay from attacking ships.  At the opposite end of the beautiful beach sits a church, whitewashed and awesome in the sunshine against the deep blue sky.  The beach always has activity happening, either young boys diving from the stone walls, older boys watching and enjoying the lovely young girls in their skimpy swim suits, fishing boats unloading the morning catch of fish, tennis, football, or beach volleyball; and just those that want to come to the beach to relax and lay in the bright sunshine and take a quick dip when it gets too hot for them.  The water is almost always calm because it does lay in a bay, with clear blue aqua water that is surprisingly clean for being near such a big city.  Another favorite is the sunsets that happen just on the horizon; as this is one of the few beaches in the country that lie on the west coast.  Depending on the weather, these magnificent sunsets are marvelous hues of dark blue, purple, orange, red and any colors of the spectrum in between.  It was the first place that the European settlers built a village after landing; called Vila Velha or the old village; and is the perfect place to hang out and watch the throngs of people that come here to unload their anxieties or troubles.  It has been the hangout place for many groups including musicians that came here to practice their music and impress the crowds that gathered.  Definitely a place to visit and enjoy when you come to the area and you should since so many of the citizens of the city come here for any happenings.  

  •  Sao Francisco Church and ConventSao Francisco Church and Convent Salvador, Brazil
    This spectacular church and convent is found in the historical hub of Salvador and considered to be extremely important colonial monuments in Brazil.  When the Franciscan friars came to Salvador in 1587, they built a church and convent that were eventually destroyed by the Dutch that invaded the country in the early 1600s.  The present church and convent were started in 1686 under the direction of Father Vicente das Chagas, after a grandiose design was finished that took many years to do.  This church was constructed sometime between 1708 to 1723; although the inside took many years and artists to complete, actually starting at the initial stages of the construction and didn't finish until 1755.  The church is most unusual among the other Franciscan churches of the Brazilian northeast because it contains a nave included in the three aisles that go to the altar.  The nave is the central aisle, with the lateral aisles containing small chapels, three on each side, and the entire church is rectangular in shape.  The front of the church looks out onto another rectangle or square with a huge stone cross, three portals and matching towers on the flanks.  But it is the interior that takes your breath away, with its incredibly beautiful decorations, that were finished in the first half of the 18th century.  The walls, ceilings, vaults and pillars are completely covered in gold sculptured gilt woodwork and paintings.  The altar pieces showcase the Solomonic columns and precise arches that are covered with golden foliage, birds and angels; and the vaults of the aisles are wooden panels covered with paintings.  The lower parts of the walls in the main chapel and transept show the life of St. Francis of Assisi in exquisite white-blue tiles that were made in Lisbon and shipped to the church.  It is undoubtedly the most wonderful and austentious example of Baroque Portuguese-Brazilian gilt woodwork art in the world and a perfect golden church or igreja dourada.  The convent also is magnificent with its Baroque art, the wood ceiling of the entrance hall is painted with scenes of the illusionistic perspective done in 1774.  The two story cloisters are finished with the white-blue tile panels imported from Lisbon and contains 17th century Flemish engravings and quotes from the Roman poet Horace.

Local Restaurants in Salvador
  • Trapiche Adelaide
    This former warehouse has been transformed into a first class restaurant with impressive views of the harbor area and the beautiful blue waters that lap at the glass enclosed enclave that marries the ambiance of history with the modern Salvador of today.  The joy and energy that is placed into each exquisite dish is overseen by the owners and chef, using their personal experiences and tastes to bring the finest cuisine in the city to your table.  The menu is exciting and delicious with unusual blending that reflect the city's diverse population and tastes.  Hor d'oeuveres includes; grilled octopus and Italian toast with a spiced sauce of paprika and purple onion; New Orleans shrimp is grilled with spiced sauce and toast; cheese curdle grilled with compote of pinha and onion.  The appetizers include; foie gras with plantain and tapioca pearl on port wine sauce; fresh oysters on the half shell; cheese salad with carrot and orange vinaigrette; ceviche of seafood with tropical fruits or vatapa with seafood is squid, shrimp, octopus and mussels.  The main entrees are; carioca picadinho in the tip of the knife with rice, borecole butter, grained mandioca and poached egg; pallette of lamb with saffron risotto; high fillet with chestnut risotto and blades of toasted coconut; claude troisgros quail is sautéed with grained mandioca with onion, raisins, napa cabbage and bittersweet grape sauce; seafood moqueca is lobster, octopus, mussels, fish and soft crab, a light touch of dende oil and fresh made coconut milk and grained mandioca; loin of cod fish with baked onion, olive sauce, caper and baked potato; shrimp with mustard, pineapple and apricots.

  • Casa da Gamboa
    The casa offers exotic Bahian and international cuisine and is located in the historical part of the city of Salvador; Pelourinho.  With exquisite porcelain and crystal chandeliers, the tables are clad with linen and silver set in an ambiance of yesterday and today.  Blending these eras into the special culinary delights coupled with the excellent tastes of Brazil make this fabulous restaurant one of the best in the city.  The menu is filled with specialties like; shellfish soup, seafood salad, octopus vinaigrette and grilled shrimp.  Regional dishes include; Moqueca from Badejo fish, shrimp, octopus and siri mole, shells, shrimp bobo, ximxim chicken, vatapa and caruru.  The shrimp specialties include; shrimp pelo, shrimp mango sauce, shrimp great march and shrimp with pineapple mustard.  Fish entrees; badejo sauce passionfruit, badejo walesca, badejo tamarind sauce, badejo with shrimp and pineapple flambe, badejo gamboa and grilled fish mixes.  The meat entrees are; chicken curry with coconut, picanha Argentina, net diplomat, fillet curry, chicken orange sauce.  Desserts are; cocada blanche, cocada noire, mousse passion fruit, ice cream and fruit.

 

Trapiche Adelaide Salvador, Brazil

Trapiche Adelaide Salvador, Brazil

Trapiche Adelaide Salvador, Brazil

 

 

Casa da Gamboa Salvador, Brazil

Casa da Gamboa Salvador, Brazil

Casa da Gamboa Salvador, Brazil

  • Salvador Charters Catamaran 50 foot Salvador Charters Salvador, Brazil
    Started in 2006, the first charter business in Salvador allows you to rent a catamaran, sailboat, powerboat or schooner to sail the beautiful waters around the Salvador, Bahia, Brazil area; or just have them do it for you.  With many years of experience sailing the oceans, seas and waters of the Mediterranean and Caribbean, the captain is well versed in all of the ships that are under his command.  If you want to catch the big fish, then he knows where to take you and make sure that you don't leave empty handed or disappointed.  Whether it is in the ocean, or just off the harbor, all these sailors know where the best fishing is and will make sure that you make your catch for the day and have the best time doing it.  They also have inflated jet skis if you prefer to take in the area privately or with someone special riding behind you.  Captain Abel is the man to see and he will cater to whatever dreams you have of the seas around Salvador.  If you are interested in finding the best beach to relax for a while, without the huge crowds that are in the Salvador coastline, then he can take you there.  Some of the fabulous places that might interest you include; Friar Island, Tide Island, Paraguacu, and other beautiful and exotic spots.  You can see the dolphins at play or watch humpback whales playing in the waters.  You can go diving and snorkeling in many of the areas with the magnificent underwater world that lies off the coast and the islands. 

  • Bahia Museum of Art
    The museum of art in Bahia is housed in a building that was once a house owned by the Goes Calmon family.  The museum took over the structure in 1943 so that a place in Salvador could hold the treasures of the art world, and does contain antique furniture, Chinese porcelain, paintings by the modern Bahian artists, silver and azulejos belonging to the colonial era of the city.  They have a glass and pottery collection; gold, silver and metalworking exhibitions and so much more from the early days of the state.  It started in 1918 and also includes collections of ivory, clay and wood sculptures from the 17th to 20th centuries.  Painted tiles and Bahia furniture from the same periods also are housed here, where the modern comes to enjoy the pleasures of the past. 

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  • Carlos Costa Pinto MuseumCarlos Costa Pinto Museum Salvador, Brazil
    This museum was originally built as a home for the Pinto family in the late 1950s, but was never lived in, instead becoming a museum to house his collection of artifacts and complete his dream.  Opening in 1969, it has become a cultural center and museum.  It is a closed museum which means it will not accept new artifact nor donations.  There are 3,175 pristine antiquities that have been divided up into 12 categories that encompass the entire collection left by Carlos.  These include jewelry, crystal, paintings, drawings, silver, miscellany, porcelain, engravings, furnishings, sculptures, imagery and honorific orders.  It is said that every piece in the collection has a specific story behind it and it increases the desire to see and meditate on the relevance of the objects.  The crystal collection contains the finest glass objects that could be made in France during the 19th century and made by Baccarat.  Most of them are for illumination, such as candleabras, candlesticks and lamps with accessories like domes, sleeves and globes that reflect and refract the light from the candle flames causing majestic colors.  The drawings include landscapes, human figures, plants and animals in the 37 pieces.  They are from the 19th and 20th centuries and include artists such as Newton Silva, Santos Edsoleda, Alberto Valencia, Almeida Junior and Angelo Agostini.  The miscellany collection contains 218 pieces of biscuit porcelain, tapestries, Oriental rugs, textiles from Africa, bronze, mother-of-pearl, ivory, opaline glass and medals.  The 22 pieces of sculpture include human figures of sacred, secular and mythological themes.  The jewelry collection is made up of 675 beautiful pieces of gold and silver with precious stones.

  • Cathedral of Salvador Basilica Cathedral Salvador, Brazil
    This is the seat of the archbishop of Salvador, Brazil; which was created in 1551 and the first bishop, Pero Fernandes Sardinha came in 1552, with the cathedral being constructed around the same time.  In 1676, it became an archdiocese, but in 1758, the Jesuit order was thrown out of Brazil and the former church became the cathedral.  It, however, was demolished in 1933 and the foundation lines can be seen on Cathedral Square in Salvador today.  The present cathedral was built in the second half of the 17th century and is similar to the churches in Portugal.  The facade is Lioz stone imported from Portugal and has two small bell towers with three portals containing statues of Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Borgia and Francis Xavier.  Inside the church, the only aisle is in the center of this rectangular church and a shallow chapel.  The walls have lateral chapels decorated with altarpieces and the floorplan is based on the Church of Sao Roque in Lisbon that was constructed a hundred years before.  The church is decorated with many beautiful sculptures and paintings, with two rare altarpieces that were brought from the old church and incorporated into the newer one.  All the furniture and carvings are from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries with exotic wood panels that display the Jesuit symbol IHS.

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  • Fort of Our Lady of MontserratFort of Our Lady Montserrat Salvador, Brazil
    On the western end of the Itapagipana Peninsula, the fort was constructed around 1586 and wasn't finished until the early 17th century and the design is like the Italian fortification styles.  It is perhaps the best example of primitive military architecture in Brazil and looked like an odd shaped polygon with round turrets.  With just 3 cannons, the whole port of Salvador could be watched, although it didn't seem to help much when the Dutch came in 1624.  Inside the fort were 16 men with a captain and 12 musketeers, gunner, tamburine and head gunner; with another cannon being added recently.  The men of the fort fought ferociously, but were overcome and surrendered the fort.  While the Dutch held the fort, the Portuguese built a trench near the fort where they put 2 cannons made of  bronze.  Three months after the Dutch had taken the fort, General Johan Van Dort was killed when he was leading his band of 200 men back to the fort and within a year, the Dutch were driven form it.  In 1638, the Dutch again attacked the fort and won it, only to leave again within a month.  It was refurbished in 1655 and again in 1693, reaching the point of where it stands today and had 12 cannons in 1717.

  • Museu Afro-Brasileiro
    The Afro-Brazilian Museum came about as the result of a Cultural Exchange program between Brazil and various African countries that at one time contributed most of the million plus slaves that were taken to this land and now contribute studies about the tribulations and lifestyles of the group that eventually integrated and intermarried into the peoples of Brazil.  The indigenous tribes of the country were also integrated and intermarried into this group with the main nationality being Portuguese.  Now, all three groups have intermingled to become the people of Brazil today.  This museum began in the old Medicine School building of Brazil that was part of the University of Bahia in the historical district of Pelourinho.  In 1997, the museum had a large restructuring concerning its museographical ideas and the centre for Afro-Oriental Studies took over the daily running of the museum.  There are many artifacts of the African nations including games, musical instruments, sculptured works, pottery, masks, adornments and clothing materials.  There are also artifacts from the Brazilian environments but more so the development of the Afro-Brazilian religion that is famous in Bahia.  These include wood sculptured tablets that depict the 27 main Orishas of the religion, and are the most important of any Brazilian artifacts.  This is one of the few museums that is devoted to the African culture, its heritage and influence in the development of Brazilian culture.

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May 11, 2011