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Salvador de Bahia

Salvador de Bahia
Photo provided by Michael Novins
The Historic Centre of Salvador de Bahia, frequently called the Pelourinho, is extremely rich in historical monuments dating from the 17th through the 19th centuries. Bahia was the first colonial capital of Brazil and the city is one of the oldest in the New World (founded in 1549 by Portuguese settlers). It was also the first slave market on the continent, with slaves arriving to work on the sugar plantations.

Major buildings inside the designated area are:
- Cathedral
- Convents of St. Francis, St. Dominic, Carmel and St. Anthony
- 16th century Palaces
- Baroque Palaces


Jorge Sanchez (Spain):
After my stay in the Carnival of Rio de Janeiro I bought a bus ticket northwards, to Salvador de Bahia.
On the bus I made friends with four Brazilian Jewish girls. Arriving in Salvador they went to find lodgment in the synagogue, for free.
I went with them, explained to the rabbi that I worked as a volunteer on a kibbutz near Gaza, and he invited me to stay.
The synagogue was full of Israeli travelers. In Israel, when young people finish their compulsory military service, three years for men and two for women, the Israeli Government grantsthem 1 year vacation before joining the society as responsible adults. Three are the favorite destinations for spending this year: Europe, India combined with Nepal, and South America, and since they're always short of money, they are usually lodged in the synagogues of the big cities, for free.
In Salvador I found life very quietly, at the contrary than in exciting Rio de Janeiro, and most of the population was black. It was common to see in almost any market places some boys practicing the fight-dance from Africa called capoeira, with martial effects, while another young man played a one-stringed instrument resembling a bow, called Jew's harp.
It is said that Salvador shelters 135 churches. But people are so fond of spiritualism that they advertise the sessions as if masses were treated and appear in newspapers and on posters in the streets. It is most common for a person, after leaving a Catholic Mass, thereupon attend a séance of spiritualism.
It was in Salvador more than any other Brazilian city where I discovered that women are so sensual that literally, just is enough an exchange of smiles in the streets and then immediately proceed to establish conversation, and soon after that to share intimacy. In that city women provoke men's friendship, even chasing them through the streets. And so each day, the Israelites boys of the synagogue and I had commitments to go to the beach with Brazilian girls, or listening to music in a pub to listen Bossa Nova and then going to the beach to have more intimacy.

The fourth day of my stay in Salvador I bought a bus ticket to Belém, for that night.
A little before dawn, during the journey Salvador - Belém, we passed a health checkpoint and all the passengers we vaccinated against yellow fever. We were in the province of Para.
Date posted: July 2013
Iain Jackson (Scotland UK):
In February 1993 I arrived at Salvador airport intending, on the grounds of personal safety, to stay in the suburb of Barra. Two Spanish women I met persuaded me that this was for milksops and that I should do as they were about to do and stay at the Hotel Pelourinho overlooking what the South American Handbook of the day called "...the finest complex of colonial architecture in Latin America".
Their advice was good and I found myself at the heart of what I consider, still, to be one of the most exciting cities anywhere.
The architecture in the historic core of Salvador is exceptional but better described by others elsewhere, but for me it is the people who make the place unique. It is said to be the most African of Brazil's cities, and at times I felt that I could have been in Senegal. There is a group of statuesque ladies clad in spotless white, lace-trimmed, full length African costumes who make a living by preparing and selling a local fast food, a kind of rissole of coarse semolina deep fried, split and topped with vegetables and spices.
One evening I went to one of the many candomble temples. They are so numerous here that they cannot be simply a tourist trap. I was far from being the only European there but we were greatly outnumbered by worshippers. I stayed for several hours and found the whole experience fascinating, though I confess that I left not a great deal wiser as to the precise significance of what I had seen.
In Largo Pelourinho, the square next to the hotel, the Olodum drummers (as featured by Paul Simon in Rhythm of the Saints) practiced regularly and down the hill near the waterfront were bewilderingly fast exponents of Capoeira.
In the crowds milling around in the square I was subject to more than one attempt at pick pocketing but, to my surprise, a slapped wrist and a knowing smile or wink was enough to send the would be thief on his way.
Date posted: January 2010

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Site info

Historic Centre of Salvador de Bahia
Country: Brazil
Inscribed: 1985
Cultural Heritage
Criteria:  (4) (6)
Category: Urban landscape, Colonial

Site history:
1985 Inscribed
Reasons for inscription
Because of current discussions regarding "Historic Towns" and nomination criteria

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Getting there

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Built or owned by Portuguese . Elevators .
Atlantic Ocean .
Slavery .
Human Activity
Festivals .
Individual People
Charles Darwin .
Religion and Belief
Cathedrals .
Built in the 16th century .
Built or owned by Dutch . Located in a Former Capital .
WHS on Other Lists
World Monuments Watch (past) .

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