The first capital of Brazil and steeped in slave trade history, the Salvador of today is a thriving center of Afro-Brazilian culture and one of the most intriguing and colorful cities you will find in the country. Founded in 1549 by Portuguese noblemen and soldiers of fortune, the city saw thousands of imported African slaves who labored in its numerous mines, and sugar and coffee plantations. Today, the local cuisine, music, dance, and vibrant visual arts, even the mixed race of its people (mulattos), are all testament to a lasting and pervasive African influence.
Located in Bahia, a lovely tropical state with perfect year-round weather, the original city was built high upon the hills above Bahía de Todos los Santos (All Saints Bay), spreading to the lower areas along the coast as the city grew. Today, the city is still divided between the upper city, with old government buildings, residential districts, museums and churches, reflecting early colonial influence with its examples of Baroque architecture; and the lower city at sea level, which contains the old port and commercial district and is now a modern city.
As one of Brazil’s great historical destinations, Salavador is filled with stunning displays of Portuguese architecture in the Baroque style: churches, homes, forts. Its historical area, Pelourinho, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, boasting the largest collection of Baroque colonial architecture in Latin America.
Staying true to its cultural roots 500-years-strong, Salavador remains a city of culture and tradition. Many of the women still wear the traditional 17th and 18th century white dress, the markets filled with folk-art, much of which still reflects the superstitions and cultures brought from Africa by the slaves. It’s a balance of tradition with new that has produced from Brazil’s oldest city some of the country’s most notable art forms such as capoeira and afoxe, an African rhythm contributed to Carnaval. The profound mixture that marks the city even evident among its own religious beliefs, particularly Catholicism and Condomblé, a mixed religion of African origin, which has therefore earned Salvador the nickname “Land of All Saints.”