Things To Do In Salvador
The former capital of Brazil, also known as the ‘Capital of Joy’, is the place of the week long Carnaval filled with contemporary music and architecture that has not been changed or renovated since the 17th century. The cuisine is Brazilian as well as some heavy influences by the African cuisine. The blue water is perfect for boating and picnics. Salvador is the place where you can party and enjoy the city with its major attractions and beautiful buildings.
When To Go:
Brazil lies in the Southern hemisphere of the world so the weather is the opposite from the Northern hemisphere. Summer goes on from December till while winters go on from the month of June till the end of September. Summers are extremely hot with high humidity and temperatures can rise up to 43 degrees Celsius. The winter months bring more rain before sunshine takes over. The rain makes the surroundings cooler, but it is usually small in amount and ends very quickly. The Carnaval falls in the months of February or March depending on the year.
This season means that Salvador will be filled with people from across the globe, accommodations will be hard to find and much more expensive than their actual rates. If you plan to make a trip during this season then book ahead in time. This also means that many shops and restaurants will be closed due to the festival and after New Year’s Eve. The worst time to travel to Salvador is during the months of June and July because the rain is unexpected and can last for a very long period of time. Moreover, the place is heavily crowded because people take their vacations and head to this part of the country. The best time would be the gap between summer and winter times or in the summers of Brazil so you can enjoy the week long Carnaval and get to know more about the Brazilian culture.
Keep on reading for the top places to see and things to do in Salvador.
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Sao Francisco Church and Convent
The most known attraction of Salvador is the Sao Francisco Church and Convent. The construction of this church started in 1708 and it was completed in 1723. The exterior of the church very humble and frugal while the interior is filled with gilt woodwork covering the walls and panels. There are white and blue tile murals inside giving the church a very graceful look.
The church is considered to be one of the most decorated churches in the Baroque category in Brazil. The square in front of the church has a large stone cross in it. The convent adjacent to the church is a more treasured part of the church which is closed from the sight of visitors. The convent has more than 30 tile murals which depict edifying scenes and also quotes written on them in Latin by Horace. The convent and the Sao Francisco church have been voted to be one of the 7 wonders of Portuguese origin in the world.
Another beautifying element of the church is the huge amounts of gold leaf wash used in the place. The Sao Francisco church is host to an amazing rococo gallery filled with carvings of saints and angels; these carvings are done by slaves and are the ones which you are not bound to find in any other church around the city. Pictures are forbidden inside the area marked by ropes so be careful regarding this matter. Make this place a must see when in Salvador.
Carnaval en Salvador de Bahia
If you truly want to experience true Brazilian culture in the city of Salvador going to the Carnaval en Salvador de Bahia is the best way. The Afro-Brazilian folklore, music and dance are brought out into the streets by the Trios Electricos which are the floats powered by motors and carry the musicians and dancers on the street while mesmerizing the entire audience. The music is not restricted to the traditional samba of Rio but now introduces the blend of African and Brazilian music known as axe music. This combo became common and known in the mid 1980s and now entrances many in the audience of the Carnaval en Salvador de Bahia. If you think this festival is going to be a mess with a huge population of people out on the streets and no security then you are wrong. The streets are lined with policemen to keep people in line and motors taking policemen patrol the streets.
After paying a certain amount of fee you can join the bloco and become a part of this Carnaval. This bloco consists of 2 trucks which are a part of the parade. The first truck has musicians on it while the second one has a bar and washrooms in it. If you want to see the parade then the camarotes are the perfect place for you. You can sit here and enjoy the view with the blocos passing by in the glory of the festival. If you want to pay nothing and still enjoy the carnival, then stand in the midst of the crowds which are kept away from the road by tight ropes and are stuffy but still provide a view making you enjoy the whole event. This is free of cost and still quite fun! So plan your days according to the carnival whose celebrations last for up to a whole week. This is your chance to party in the Brazilian style.
Bale Folclorico da Bahia
This renowned performance of Brazil takes place in an old theatre located in the heart of this historic city of Salvador. The Bale Folclorico da Bahia is the best way to absorb the traditions and culture of the country which samples influences by the African culture, brought by the slaves coming to the country during the period of colonization. These influences brought into the country are still visible in the music, religion, dance and clothes. This only professional company of folk dance in Brazil consists of 38 members of dancers, musicians and singers which perform to represent the folk dance of the Bahian culture originating from Africa. These performances include slave dances, samba, capoeira which is a kind of martial arts and then there are some performances of the Carnaval.
The troupe has given more than 200 performances in about 90 cities of North America. It has also received ‘Best Performance of the Year’ award by the National Institute of Dance. The seats in the theatre are wooden benches which can become a little uncomfortable for the entire show so you can take a pillow or cushion along to sit easily throughout the amazing performance. The Bale Folcorico da Bahia is the best thing to experience in the city so get your tickets get enthralled by the brilliant dances.
Fonte Nova Stadium
This stadium took the place of Estadio Fonte Nova which stood in the exact same place and was built in 1951. It got demolished in 2010 when the construction of the new arena began for the FIFA World Cup 2014. One of the sides of the arena is now left open for the view of the lake adjacent to the building. In the FIFA World Cup of 2014 Arena Fonte Nova has been the host for 16 matches held.
The stadium has a capacity of 56,000 and has 50,000 seats, places for food kiosks, areas for wheelchairs and places for dispensers of water. Now this stadium has been chosen for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The atmosphere of this stadium is absolutely amazing as you watch the game. The seating capacity is excellent giving each seat a reasonable space. Take a cab to this huge place to enjoy the exuberance and get the thrill of being in the field where the famous FIFA World Cup was played.
Teatro Castro Alves
This theatre established since the early 1900s has seen 2 tragic events of it burning down. A really good place where a lot of performances related to dancing, music and acting take place still. The architecture of the Teatro Castro Alves is very interesting as its building has given it a huge advantage. Designed according to the hilly ground it stands upon, the theatre looks very modest and simple from the Campo Grande but from the other side the architecture is breathtaking.
The giant shell shaped building is an open air theatre with more than 5000 seats inside it. There are always a few exhibitions going on inside usually representing the authentic culture of Bahia. If you go and check you can even find free tickets for shows taking place in the evening. If not, then this place is an amazing escape from the heat of the city of Salvador. Stroll down to this theatre and look at the exhibitions happening there.
Palacete das Artes Rodin Bahia
This small palace used to be the home to one of the wealthiest families of Salvador, the Catharino family. This was built in the early 20th century and later was donated to the State of Salvador. Now it has been restored and has become the Rodin Bahia Museum which exhibits famous works of the renowned sculptor from outside of France. 62 plaster sculptures stand inside the beautiful little place and are known to be certified copies made by the artist himself. The Thinker, The Walking Man, The Kiss Eye and The Defense are known ones out of these sculptures.
These are originally owned by the Rodin Museum, Paris and were only exhibited for 3 years in the restored rooms of the palace. 4 bronze sculptures stand outside in the garden permanently under the shades of mango trees scattered around the lush green grounds. The Palacete das Artes Rodin Bahia is a necessary visit if you are a passionate tourist in the city of Salvador. There are small coffee shops, bars and gift shops in this building which are a huge attraction for the visitors.
Ponta de Humaita
The Ponta de Humaita is one of the most beautiful spots in Salvador which offers a splendid view, a place to relax and also some history for its visitors. The lighthouse of Humaita is a historic building and stands in the midst of a jungle of palm trees growing on the beach. The lighthouse was inaugurated in 1935. A green plaque shows the date and details of the building of the lighthouse. The Ponta de Humaita is a well known tourist spot which is a less crowded place compared to the rest of the city. Moreover, if you want an amazing day with a view that will blow your senses away, this is the place to be. From this point you have a lovely view of the city and some of the known sites in it.
You can see the church, the convent and the lighthouse. At the time of the sunset this is definitely the place you want to be standing at. The sunset here is gorgeous and is known to be one of the most breathtaking sights in the world. On the bay you will find the church and monastery of Our Lady of Mount Serrat which were built in the 16th century. Back in time this place used to be the spot for the defense of the city. So go to this famous place which allows you a relaxing time with the most magnificent views of the city and sunset that you surely do not want to miss. Take a tour of the tip of Humaita and relish in the beauty of Salvador.
Our Lady of the Rosary of Black people
This church called Our Lady of the Rosary of Black People is another beautiful piece of architecture with historic importance, standing in the part of Pelourinho. The construction of the church started in the 18th century by the slaves who were not allowed to enter other churches and were a part of the brotherhood of Our Lady of the Rosary of Black People. They dedicated themselves to build the church in night time due to the reason that they worked for their masters in the day time. The exterior is a beautiful edifice of white stone and an amazing architecture by the slaves of the city. There are paintings of some saints and Our Lady of the Rosary inside the church. Going down to this historically important site is necessary to look at the inspirational architecture of the church.
This is the name of a band founded in 1979 which depicts African and Brazilian culture through their amazing music. Olodum performs every week in the city of Salvador in the streets of Pelourinho. Combining the music they make tunes that are extremely catchy and make you want to move. During the 16 years of rigorous activities in Bahia, Olodum has become an international symbol for the rights of Black people all across the globe. Every Tuesday, in the cobble stone streets of Pelourinho the sounds of the drums of Olodum reach a mass of people. On Tuesdays the band distributes free food and you will find yourself in a huge crowd dancing to the beats of the cultural music with food and drinks in their hands. The drums of Olodum are painted in the colors of Africa, red, gold, green and black. Before the 16th century Blacks were not allowed to take part in the Carnaval festival parading down the city. Since Olodum came into being it recruited Blacks to be a part of the festival and since then the number of participants has grown from 800 to 3000. Olodum is not just restricted to music, but it publishes news journal, runs a factory which produces musical instruments, helps in commemorating speeches related to issues of the country and moreover, runs a school for the underprivileged children of Salvador. Find a Tuesday to spend a glorious time getting lost in the music of this band which is different and so catchy that you would want more!
Make your trip to the city of Salvador one of the most memorable trips in your life. Walking along the tight knit streets of Pelourinho find buildings with amazing architecture which is authentic and specific to Afro-Brazilian culture and style. Find yourself in the midst of a beautiful sunset with a terrific view at Ponta de Humaita. Discover history in the churches of Our Lady of the Rosary of Black People and the Sao Francisco church and convent which has some beautiful stone sculptures carved by hand. To completely understand the culture and traditions of the city, attend the performance by Bale Folcorico de Bahia and get mesmerized by the dances the troupe has prepared for you. The soul of Salvador, which is the Carnaval de Bahia is a must watch event which will inspire you with its vibrancy and colors. Go to the small palace to view the sculptures made by the French artist, Rodin. Salvador is a city which has architecture from various time periods, but they all depict culture of the city. There is a lot to explore in this city so take out your time and start walking along the streets to find new places and delve in history.
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