Salvador – 3 great days


To see Visiting Salvador – Pelourinho and upper city

With almost 3 million inhabitants, Salvador is the third city of Brazil. Because it was the capital at the time of the great slavery flow, it remains the greatest cauldron of cultures.

Portuguese colonial construction is well present, and the dichotomy of the high and low city creates a diversity of image that enriches the visit.


Salvador by solopes
Salvador by solopes

Pelourinho is, at the same time, the name of Salvador’s most historical quarter, and of its most charismatic square.

It is in Pelourinho that, night and day, vibrates the Brazil  of the frenetic rhythms, and its craftsmen give body to creations where Africa and Portugal are well present. It is not possible to visit Salvador without a few hours in Pelourinho

Visiting Salvador – Pelourinho

The iconic image of Salvador is this wide, steep and irregular Portuguese walk, surrounded by well preserved buildings of Portuguese colonial design, in vibrant colors, with evidence to the House Museum of Jorge Amado, and the church of Our Lord of the Blacks.
Music was present everywhere, and it seems to be usual, night and day, along all the year.

Jorge Amado Foundation

Visiting Salvador

The top of Largo do Pelourinho, is enclosed by a large blue house, former residence of Jorge Amado and now home to its Foundation.

There is gathered his literary collection, organized by the Nucleus of Studies and Research, a non-profit organization that ensures the management of space.

Satisfying the wishes of the writer, who wanted a living space, there is an event area, a theater Cafe with the name of his wife, Zélia Gattai, and a shop where cultural items are sold.

Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos

Visiting Salvador

During the time of slavery, blacks were accepted into the temples, with some restrictions, performing their worship activities on side altars.

​Since the seventeenth century they were organized in confraternities, like whites, and the Confraternity of the Venerable Third Order of the Rosary of Our Lady, was authorized to construct its own church.

It was begun in 1704, and built with the money and labor of blacks, free and slaves, (although I doubt the blackness of the artists responsible for the altar and ceiling). We could not visit, not proving the guide’s information that there would be saints … blacks, something I’ve never seen referred to in any of the texts I’ve read.

S. Francisco square

Visiting Salvador

Less promoted than Pelourinho, Largo do Cruzeiro, forms another important architectural and historical complex of Salvador, where Portuguese colonial architecture is well preserved.

Around the cross, typical of the urban participation of the Franciscans, the animation is constant

​S. Francisco church

Visiting Salvador

The convent of San Francisco, in Salvador, was founded in 1587. The current church began to be built in 1708, with its dazzling interior in gilded carving.

it is indispensable to enter, to, after walking through a cloister with curious images in tile panels that show the effort of men to combat the wear and tear of time, to be overwhelmed by the opulence of a dense and wonderful decoration in gold, the top of the Baroque.

Tons of gold

Visiting Salvador

It is common in the Baroque the presence of the gilded carving, beautifying the altars; less common is its use in a generalized, almost obsessive way, covering almost everything, only the ceiling and one or another pillar escaping this ostentatious decoration. More than enchanting, the beauty of the San Francisco church crushes the visitor


Visiting Salvador

The visitable part of the old convent is a cloister without great refinements of architecture, but richly covered by tile panels, that the time goes degrading, but without erasing the histories that they count, allowing the constant work of recovery

​Ordem Terceira de S. Francisco

Salvador by solopes
Salvador by solopes

Why two side by side churches dedicated to the same saint? I don’t know!
I only know that, next to the beautiful and rich church of San Francisco began in 1702 the construction of this new church, with a facade of much greater beauty (maybe there is the answer), and which is the only one in Brazil with high-reliefs
After successive transformations, its interior seems today to be a neo-classical carving that I would have liked to see, but, by the late hour, or for other reasons, I could not enter.

Visiting Salvador

Casa Olodum

Visiting Salvador

Founded in 1979 with a carnival group, the band Olodum, with its intense percussion, supported several renowned artists, until Michael Jackson projected them worldwide.

Today, Casa do Olodum, already visited by more than 500 thousand people of all origins and conditions, occupies a three-storey building: on the ground floor there is a shop selling souvenirs of the Olodum brand. On the first floor are the services, and in the second a small auditorium.

Atelier Mestre Lua Rasta


Master Lua Rasta is described as a friendly and playful reference of Capoeira, which was dedicated to the manufacture of percussion instruments. His studio, in Pelourinho, is a true and rich museum of percussion instruments

Largo Terreiro de Jesus


Connecting the squares of S. Francisco and Sé, this large square, whose central zone we could not see because it is under maintenance, is surrounded by a rich set of churches and palaces, which make it an inescapable point of long delay in the visit of Salvador



In one of the tops of the Terreiro de Jesus (and also topping Largo da Sé), this beautiful church, the most important church of the religious organization, is the counterpoint of the good use in Portugal of resources from Brazil to build the most impressive monuments of the 18th century, like Mafra palace or the church of S. Roque, for instance.

Made with Portuguese stone in the 17th century, this is the fourth version of church installed on the site, and features a Mannerist style.

São Pedro dos Clérigos

Salvador - 3 great days

The present temple of the Brotherhood of St. Peter of the Clergy, which emerged in Portugal in the fifteenth century and installed in Salvador in the following one, was built at the beginning of the 18th century, with royal support, which did not prevent the works from finishing only a hundred years later

It follows the artistic trends of the time, in a transition between the rococo style and the neoclassical.

São Domingos de Gusmão

Salvador by solopes
Salvador by Solopes

Also, located in Terreiro de Jesus, the church of Venerable Order 3rd of São Domingos Gusmão had its construction begun in 1731, presenting a facade in rococo style. Its interior has neoclassical carving, that replaced the primitive baroque carving.

It underwent alterations in the 19th century, which eliminated the golden carvings from the ceiling but kept the painting “trompe l’oeil”.

It has a valuable artistic collection of Bahian artists and jacaranda furniture.

Faculdade de Medicina


In 1808, the Prince Regent Dom João authorized the installation of higher education courses in Brazil, and created the School of Surgery of Bahia, which was named the Faculty of Medicine of Bahia in 1832.

The Faculty occupied part of the College of the Jesuits, in the Terreiro de Jesus.

After a fire that forced the construction of a new building, the architectural ensemble was classified, and now houses only the faculty secretariat.

Folk show


We attended at Pelourinho to a show, in a restaurant, after a good dinner.
It was a short performance of a single hour, based in folklore (only African – I was hoping to see how they did treat the Portuguese roots, without any luck) that ended with a fabulous demonstration of capoeira. ​I already knew the art, saw several exhibitions, but nothing alike – they were really astonishing!

Cruz Caída


At the top of the square, overlooking the lower city, the Cruz Caída, a monument designed by Bahian artist Mário Cravo,  was inaugurated in 1999.

12 m high, it celebrates the disappearance of the former Church of Sé, the Primacial do Brasil, built in 1553 and demolished in 1933.

Praça Tomé Sousa


Built in 1549, the year of the founding of Salvador as the first city and capital of Brazil, this square is, historically, the most important in Brazil, since it was the seat of government for more than two centuries. Today it houses the City Hall of Salvador, the Rio Branco Palace, the access to the Lacerda Elevator and the Belvedere of the Fallen Cross, with a beautiful view of Todos os Santos Bay.


Salvador by solopes
Salvador by Solopes

Near the square, the Holy House of Mercy of Bahia, in Salvador, was founded in 1549, the same year that the city was founded, housing the Church of Our Lady of Mercy.

The present Church was built in 1653, with successive decorative works from 1722.

Rio Branco palace


Reading the history of this palace is almost like reading the history of Brazil, so connected it is to many of the most important events. This centralism cost him attacks, destruction, reconstruction, subordinated to the standards of the time, the last of which began in 1912 and gave him the beautiful current image.

Lacerda lift


Inaugurated on December 8, 1873, on the initiative of businessman António Lacerda, it was the first elevator in the world to serve as public transportation and the highest of its kind.

It connects the square Tomé de Sousa in the historical center to the square Cayru, in the Commerce district, thus linking the so called Cidade Alta and Cidade Baixa.

We did not use it because we were warned that the views it provides do not match expectations, being best appreciated from the outside, from both plans.

Lower Salvador

Salvador by solopes
Salvador by Solopes

Given the length of my notes, I decided to divide them into two blocks, coinciding with the division made locally between the upper city and the lower city. Salvador will only be known by seeing them both.

Ladeira de Montanha

Lower Salvador
Lower Salvador – Ladeira de Montanha

This old and neglected street has a very rich history: as the point of passage between both plans of the city, all the business of passers-by was concentrated here, with rich (now dangerous) night life, whose signs are still visible in its dark recesses

Comercio quarter

Lower Salvador – Comercio quarter

In the low city, surrounding the port the lively neighborhood received a clearly adequate name – Commerce.

Our guide pointed to:

  • São Marcelo fortress
  • Bahia Nautical Center
  • Customs
  • Gold Market
  • Church of Our Lady of the Conception of Praia

Closer, we saw Visconde de Cairu Square, the Modelo market and the Lacerda lift

​Modelo market

Lower Salvador – Modelo market

Inaugurated in 1912, “Mercado Modelo” operated as the main supply center of the city of Salvador, especially with products from the Recôncavo Baiano.

Initially its location was in another building but after a fire, in 1969, it moved to the Casa da Alfândega building, which was classified as a national patrimony, where it has evolved by taking advantage of tourism

Monument to the city

Lower Salvador – Monument to the city

The Visconde de Cayru square is dominated by a dense monument of the artist Mário Cravo, that honestly, does not impress by its beauty. However, knowing that it is built in fiberglass. his gigantism becomes overwhelming

​S. Marcelo fort

Lower Salvador – S. Marcelo fort

Constructed in wood on a sand bank, in the early 17th century by the Portuguese, and hardly disputed with the Dutch throughout that century, after destruction and reconstruction this fort is now a cultural space open to visit, made by boat and limited by safety reasons

Nossa Senhora dos Mares


We passed quickly by this square, where an exotic green on the facade drew our attention to a church of tall towers.

I read later that it was built in the first half of the last century, without major historical or artistic relief

Estação da Calçada

Lower Salvador – Estação da Calçada

Also fast was the passage through this square where a statue of Lauro de Freitas seemed to guard a banana bench.

​Here I would have liked to have stopped for a few seconds, for the station at Calçada, in the background, seemed to merit a long look.

Boa Viagem


Salvador by solopes
Salvador by Solopes

The many beaches of the city seem to me to be of little function, given the profusion of rocks and reefs.

The exception was Boa Viagem beach, which perhaps due to its somewhat peripheral location and inside the bay, is mostly frequented by locals.


Lower Salvador – Boa Viagem church

The church and an asylum were built in the 18th century by the Franciscans. Its richest detail, a set of tile panels, was partially destroyed in a reconstruction in the last century.

“Ponta de Humaità”

Lower Salvador – Ponta Humaitá

Dominated by the fort of Mont Serrat, this small peninsula houses a lighthouse and a church that was in recovery when we visited it.

​This is a very harmonious set with great views.​

Mont Serrat fort

Lower Salvador – Mont Serrat

Built in the 17th century, the Mont Serrat fort has always been the focus of many disputes for more than 200 years.

​Classified as national heritage, it houses the museum of armament. The view of the city from its ramparts is breathtaking.



Lower Salvador – Bonfim church

The church of Senhor Bom Jesus do Bonfim, in Salvador, was built between 1746 and 1754, to house the image of Senhor Bom Jesus do Bonfim, brought from Lisbon in 1745, and to whom is attributed the rescue of some shipwrecked.

With typically Portuguese architecture in neo-classical style, it has a simple but elegant decoration, with beautiful frescoes and tiles.

It is a meeting point of the Christianity with the traditional African religions and fortune-teller superstition.

There’s a feast of washing the staircases.
We did not watch it, but, with the dust of the works in progress, the “Baianas” had a hard work when we left.


Lower Salvador – Bonfim traditions

First we were approached by some street vendors, offering the miraculous ribbons at 5 reais each. It was not necessary to recall the guide’s warnings, to realize the speculative price that was demanded, waiting for any offer.

​By chance, I went away a little to take a picture, and I saw in a store ribbons for sale for 1 real each pack of 10.

I bought 2, and went back to the church “swimming in ribbons”, which guaranteed me total peace. The visit and photos of the church were hampered by the intense exterior work. Despite its very harmonious appearance and interesting tile panels, the church is far from being a dazzle.
What is truly remarkable is the local tradition.
I did not avoid the “blessing” of the Father of Saint, with powders, flowers and smokes wrapped in incomprehensible spiel. All this in a serene atmosphere of smiling tranquility, ending by the inevitable donation to … Oh God! I have to go back! I forgot what saint or orixá was present.



Lower Salvador – Barra

Built in 1698 on the southwest tip of the city, and included in the fortress of Santo António da Barra, the lighthouse of Barra is considered the oldest in America.

​The whole is now visitable, including, in the military facilities, a nautical museum.



On a beach of reasonable size, perhaps the best in this part of the city, reefs and rocks are visible in profusion that can either provide protected areas, or make other impracticable. It was not only for the information of being polluted that we did not attend it, just because, with Morro de São Paulo and Praia do Forte on the agenda, there was little temptation.

Morro do Cristo


A pleasant and short walk along the seafront, took us to stop on this hill, which in the distance promised good views. It has!
It is a space arranged with simplicity and good taste, where, at the foot of the statue of Christ the Redeemer, carved in Carrara marble by Pasquale de Chirico, the view extends over the surrounding beaches, with Itaparica in background.

Ondina beach


Beautiful to the eyes, and in a upscale neighborhood, it is one more beach where tide and rocks have to be managed with care.

​Generalized works in confirm the great care with the infrastructures of the beach.

Tororó Dam

Salvador by solopes
Salvador by Solopes


Tororó dam was built in the 17th century in a natural valley, to protect city, against invasions.

From the 19th century, it began to be grounded for the expansion of the city, considerably reducing its size.

​Nowadays, it is a recreational and sports area.


Salvador 908
Salvador 908

In 1998, the work of the sculptor Tati Moreno, a set of statues were installed in the Lake of the Tororó, representative of the diverse Orixás. In homage to Candomblé, it seems that they are all there:
Oxalá – God of creation and father of all orixás.
Iansã – Lady of lightning, winds and storms.
Iemanjá – The queen of the sea,mother of the orixás.
Ogum Edé – God of war and iron users.
Nanã – Goddess of rain and mud (grandmother).
Xango – Lord of lightning and thunder.
Oxum – Orixá of fresh waters, lakes and fountains


Stadium “Arena Fonte Nova”

In Brazil as in Portugal (not only) the big events are pretext for pharaonic works that exhaust the public purse, and become white elephants past the euphoria.

This seems to be the case with this modern stadium, built for the world championship, and now under-exploited and subject to sale. It will be curse of Portugal, that lost 4-0 with Germany there?

“Todos os Santos” bay

Salvador 714
Salvador 714

“Todos-os-Santos” bay is the second largest bay in the world, after the Bay of Bengal and the largest in Brazil. Penetrating 80 km inland on the continent, the Bay has a perimeter of 300 km, and houses fifty-six islands.

We visited superficially the largest and most important, Itaparica, and considered a trip to the island of the Monjes as an alternative to the Morro de São Paulo, but … it was not the same!

I recommend ​Coliseu – Salvador

Pelourinho, located in the historic center of Salvador, is a vibrant and colorful neighborhood that comes alive at night, when the streets are lit up with colorful lights and the sounds of live music can be heard everywhere. We can enjoy traditional Bahian cuisine in one of the many restaurants or street food stalls, or sip on a refreshing caipirinha at a local bar.

Pelourinho – Coliseu and more

While we were there, we decided to go to this discreet restaurant in Pelourinho, for being the site of a folkloric show. The dinner was good, the show even better. It ended with an indescribable session of capoeira, which I gladly share.

Booking is advisable, perhaps indispensable in high season.

Coliseu Salvador
Coliseu Salvador

Smashing Capoeira

I recommend Vila Galé

Salvador by solopes
Salvador by Solopes

I recommend I left Portugal with the feeling that I did not book a hotel at the most convenient place, but the fact that my friends stayed there prevailed. It was confirmed that the hotel will not be in the best area for those who want to do the beach, but with the program I designed, it fully met our expectations and needs.

image 1
Salvador - 3 great days

It is a Portuguese hotel, and it does well the promotion of Portugal.

Good breakfast, and despite having planned to try different restaurants for dinner, fatigue and the fact that Fernanda did not eat at night, made me stay by the hotel, and to dine there. Always with pleasure, especially when the buffet included a cod Gomes de Sá style, likely to earn praise in Portugal.

In the negative side, lunch on the last day, when I had half an hour to have lunch, I asked for the fastest dish warning of my haste, and I spent half an hour waiting.

Site: Vila Galé

Michael Jackson


in 1995 Michael Jackson recorded with the band Olodum, in a discrete building of Pelourinho, the success “They do not care about us”.

​It was without surprise that the window of the blue house became an opportunity of business, with the owner charging 5 reals to each tourist that wanted to be pictured there.

Today the business remains, with a small difference – on the ground floor there is a shop, and the access to the window is free for the customers – and only for those …

Mauro tours

Planning my 3 days in Salvador, and confronting the small differences between the various agencies, I found curious the criteria in the evaluation of Mauro tours, predominantly in Spanish, but all, without exception, absolutely superlatives.

Tripadvisor assigned it the first place with 4 very good reviews and all the other excellent, and I pointed to them.

Salvador by solopes
Salvador by solopes

First I had to choose between private and group visits. 

Of course the group has the advantage of the price, but I remembered a 6-hour city tour in Dubai, where more than 4 were occupied collecting and returning tourists to the hotels. We had little time, and wanted some flexibility to stop and photograph here and there, so we opted for the private tour.
The exception was the trip to the Morro de São Paulo, where the private visit would add a lot in the account and not much in the visit.

Mauro is a jovial Argentine, in love with Salvador, who evidently enjoys his work, and makes a point of personally receiving clients upon arrival. His contagious sympathy and bonomia installs an atmosphere of warmth and enthusiasm that is followed by his team.

Salvador by solopes
Salvador by solopes

We had Filipe, very punctual and irreproachable in the way he accepted all our requests, how he planned optimized times and routes, and how he explained much of Brazil’s history, life, and politics.

It was like friends that we said goodbye at the airport, where for our convenience ended the city tour.

I believe we were the first Portuguese to use this agency, but, as far as I’m concerned, I’ll try not to be the last.

Confession (Bonfim)

Salvador info – Bonfim

There is much to do around the Igreja do Bonfim, in terms of preparing it for tourism. It is true that the works proceed with intensity, but around the intervened zone the image is ugly.

​Two or three buildings well maintained can not disguise the general degradation, but they are a good indication of what can and should be done.


Salvador info – Pollution

The city’s beaches did not dazzle me – many rocks, uneven reefs, somewhat irregular waves, only the beaches within the bay (and the farthest) seemed appealing to me.
In addition to that, the guide reported pollution problems on those same beaches. Without knowing it, when planning sea bath only in Morro de São Paulo, Guarajuba and Praia do Forte, I hit it in full.

High tide

Salvador info – High tide

Many of the good beaches in the region have two completely different versions – in the low tide, the large stretches of sand freed by the retreat of the water are occupied with terraces, from where people go to the bath in the calm and low waters protected by the remote reefs .
At high tide, the esplanades are removed, and the sea advances to the shore, with the waves bypassing the submerged reefs, and coming to curl by the houses.
I would like to try the high version (with waves) but schedule constraints did not allow it.

Subjective notes

Visiting a place means to get in touch with its characteristics and details, but also to build a subjective image of the place. These were the strongest images of my subjective Salvador!



Salvador by solopes
Salvador by Solopes

Christianity is the dominant religion in Brazil, and, taking advantage of the colonization of the Country in the midst of the flourishing period of the Baroque, and the immense wealth of that time, everywhere are seen hundreds of churches that make the pride of the Portuguese who visit them.
The times do not stop, the styles evolve, and Brazil has developed an aesthetic of its own, enriching its heritage. It is not possible to visit Brazil without the dazzle of some of its temples.


Memories of Salvador

The slave flow to Brazil, allowed the convergence there of several African native religions, each with its orixá. Gathering all them, a new religion was born in Brazil, Candomblé with multiple orixás.

​Because, contrary to what is common in other places, in Brazil religions do not bet on exclusivity, Candomblé was tolerated in proximity to other religions, so it is natural to see their worship on the stairs of the Christian Church of Senhor do Bonfim.

This is, however, only the most visible of a religion that only in Salvador seems to be practiced in more than 2000 “terreiros”, and that, from Brazil, was expanded, even reaching Europe.

Modern business

image 2
Memories of Salvador

No, It’s not easy to understand how do people insist in paying this evident and ostentatious business. Faith keeps being one of the strengths of mankind, and also its biggest weakness.


image 4
Memories of Salvador

One of the most deplorable aspects visible in São Paulo is the profusion of graffiti without any order or aesthetics, soiling everything that was possible, including gables of seemingly inaccessible buildings. In Salvador, despite the sad degradation of many of its emblematic buildings and spaces, the situation is not so serious, and the most visible graffiti do not shock … on the contrary.


image 5
Memories of Salvador

It was inviting to photograph the ingenious solution found at Praia do Forte for the beach showers – a simple bamboo structure, with the taps discreetly applied, and the water flowed naturally, enhancing the look of the place. Well done!


Itaparica 5
Memories of Salvador

The skyscrapers of big cities lead us to forget that, besides all its potential Brazil is still a poor country.

Exiting for the province, the contrasts appear, and the difficulties are evident, as in this beautiful image of Itaparica.


img 20181009 151005 2
Memories of Salvador

Well… it seems to work! It mus work, however I would refuse to be an electrician in Brazil.

At least in Morro de São Paulo

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