Salvador is known as Brazil’s “capital of happiness” because of its countless number of popular outdoor parties, including its street carnival. Its humble beginnings can be traced to 1549 when Portuguese settlers decided to colonize Brazil and make Salvador the capital of the country. As a result, this coastal city quickly became the main port of call for ships from all over the world that would dock and import their goods into South America. Salvador is no longer Brazil’s capital, but it is a magnificent city with unique architecture, historic museums, chic gastronomy restaurants and African-inspired music, which makes it a unique host city for the 2014 World Cup soccer games.
Salvador, the City of Music
Bahia is the musical state of Brazil. Its rich mixture of Brazilian, African and European cultures birthed genres and rhythms like axe, pagode and samba.. The state’s capital, Salvador, marches to its own beat. People here sing and play special percussion instruments like the berimbau, agogos and atabaques.
Capoeira — performed by groups of men in the city squares and near tourist attractions — is a combination of martial arts, dance and athleticism that originated from African slaves. The unique martial arts dance style is recognized as a symbol of Salvador’s culture. In the crowds of World Cup celebrations, visitors will be entertained by locals performing Capoeira on the streets; so don’t be afraid to pick up an instrument, learn a few new moves and join the fun.
The Farol Da Barra (Barra Lighthouse) was the very first lighthouse ever built in the Americas. People recognized this lighthouse as an iconic landmark in Salvador. Another must-see landmark when touring the city is the Igreja do Senhor do Bonfim (Church of the Lord Bonfim). This church was built in the 18th century and exemplifies Baroque style through its facades and neoclassical altar. A popular tradition among its visitors is purchasing souvenir ribbons to wear on their ankles or wrists to match the church’s ribbon-covered gates. Tradition dictates that these ribbons have 3 knots which represent 3 wishes. The owner must wear the ribbon until it falls off; otherwise, the wishes will not come true.
The Igreja Convento de São Francisco (Church Convent of Saint Francisco) is another display of Baroque style, decorated with 1,764 pounds of gold. This church is located in Centro Histórico (Historical Center) of Salvador, also known as Pelourinho (Pillory). Pelourinho is a neighborhood surrounded by extraordinary historical sites and it is the center of where the city’s economic development started. This area is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with more than 800 houses built between the 17th and 19th centuries. In this neighborhood, tourists can visit the Solar do Unhão (Solar Unhão) and the Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia (Museum of Modern Art of Bahia), including the architectural complex and sculptural garden.
Best View of the City
Built in 1873, the Elevador Lacerda (Lacerda Elevator) stands 236 feet tall and offers one of the best views of Salvador. The elevator was originally built with the sole purpose of connecting the city’s Cidade Alta (uptown) neighborhood to the Cidade Baxia (downtown) neighborhood. Although it is a functional way of getting around the city, Elevador Lacerda overlooks the coast and is a perfect spot to watch the sunset.
Nestled in the downtown area, Mercado Modelo (Model Market) has more than 200 shops for visitors to buy handcrafted goods and souvenirs. Inside the Market, restaurants serve authentic Bahian food – perfect for a bite to eat after a day of shopping. São Joaquim (Saint Joaquim Fair) is another popular market to shop for authentic trinkets, traditional foods, spices and ingredients to take home.
Find Your Perfect Beach
Visitors will find that there are plenty of beaches to choose from, each with its own unique features. The Farol da Barra (Lighthouse of Barra) is a fun spot for surfing, diving and soaking in the natural pools of water. Amaralina is a beach with a long boardwalk for people to run, walk or ride their bikes. Corsário is known for its strong waves and excellent surfing scene. Itapuã is the beach closest to the Farol de Itapuã (Lighthouse of Itapuã), and compared to the other beaches, it is known for its calm waves and crowds of people. Jardim de Alah (Garden of Allah) is a prime location to sample mouthwatering Bahian cuisine on the beach’s boardwalk. After a nice meal, get a massage from one of the masseurs who have tents set up along the beach. Ondina is known for being a family-friendly beach with natural pools and playgrounds for children. Porto da Barra (Porto of Barra) has the most beautiful view of the sunset in the city and is a great place for sea bathing. Rio Vermelho (Red River) is full of history and it’s where the Festival of Iemanjá takes place every year. Stella Maris is one of the most popular beaches for surfing, festivities, sports, and beachfront restaurants and bars.
Traditional Bahian Cuisine
After a long day of touring the city, unwind and enjoy the taste of delicious Bahian cuisine. On Avenida do Contorno (Avenue of Contorno), visitors can indulge in some of the most luxurious and sophisticated restaurants that range from traditional cuisine to Japanese-infused dishes. Mercado do Peixe (Fish Market) is a popular hangout for people who want to watch soccer games while eating delicious, fresh meals served at the restaurants in the market. For nighttime fun, Barra-Ondina Circuit has a fabulous, newly renovated beachfront bar area where music lovers can listen to live singers and bands perform. Some of the country’s most famous artists were discovered here.
When looking through a menu, visitors are recommended to try Acarajé, a spicy black-eyed pea fritter filled with shrimp, vatapá and caruru. Another delicious option is vatapá, a typical dish made into a creamy paste using coconut milk, cashews, peanuts, palm oil, ginger, corn flour, bread, chilies, tomatoes and onions, and served with rice and shrimp. Lastly, Salvador is known for utilizing coconut as a main ingredient in its dishes, and to satisfy their sweet tooth, visitors should try Cocadas (coconut candies). The delicious Bahian cuisine is just one of several reasons why you should visit Salvador.
– By the Brazilian Tourism Board (Embratur)
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