Salvador Introduction Walking Tour, Salvador

Salvador Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Salvador

Salvador is a coastal city in Brazil. Founded in 1548, it is the country's former capital and serves as the current capital of the state of Bahia. It is one of the oldest planned cities in the Americas.

Due to its location, early Europeans turned Salvador into an important trade route for slavery. Of the nearly 5 million enslaved people who were imported to Brazil, about 1.3 million were brought through Salvador. As such, the city experienced one the largest uprisings of enslaved people who eventually gained their freedom and made an indelible mark on the city.

The city is known for its Afro-Brazilian art, architecture, and cuisine. One of the places where this is apparent is in the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Black People. This Catholic church, built by enslaved and free black people, uses African chants and holds masses in the Yoruba language.

The historical center of the city of Salvador is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The architecture dates from the colonial period when Portugal was newly establishing a stronghold in the region. The center of the city is often referred to as the Pillory district due to the fact that the squares, like Terreiro de Jesus, had pillories installed for public punishment and torture.

The city center has undergone vast reconstruction over the course of the last 30 years. Visitors will find historical buildings with updated facades. Many of these are churches, like the Cathedral Basilica of Salvador, the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Black People, and Sao Francisco Church and Convent of Salvador.

Visit the markets of Salvador. Try the traditional cuisine when visiting food vendors at places like Modelo Market. Then walk along Pillory Street while soaking up the culture of the city.

Take this self-guided walking tour to see the rich and vibrant culture of Salvador, Brazil.
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Salvador Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Salvador Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Brazil » Salvador (See other walking tours in Salvador)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Terreiro de Jesus Square
  • Cathedral Basilica of Salvador
  • Largo do Pelourinho (Pillory Street)
  • Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Black People
  • São Francisco Church and Convent of Salvador
  • Elevador Lacerda (Lacerda Elevator)
  • Camara Municipal de Salvador (Salvador City Hall)
  • Palacio Rio Branco (Rio Branco Palace)
  • Mercado Modelo (Modelo Market)
1
Terreiro de Jesus Square

1) Terreiro de Jesus Square

Terreiro de Jesus is a square in the central part of Salvador de Bahia. Also known as 15th of November Square, it dates back to the 1500s. At that time, the Jesuit order received a land grant in the northern section of the new city from the Governor and founder of Salvador, Tome de Sousa, and built a church and a Jesuit school. The land was named "Terreiro de Jesus."

Terreiro de Jesus Square is located in the city's oldest area, providing easy access to the most important historical places in Salvador de Bahia. The most notable building on the Terreiro de Jesus is the Cathedral Basilica of Salvador. The square was part of the church grounds when it was first constructed in 1590.

Though the church was rebuilt and redesigned several times, the Terreiro de Jesus Square was not updated until 1948. Landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx replaced the Square's flooring with Portuguese tiling in black and white, shells, and beach pebbles. The only portions that remained unchanged were the fountain and some scant vegetation.

Today, visitors will find a cobbled drive around the square. Sidewalks host street vendors who sell their wares to tourists. There are also numerous dining establishments around. The Terreiro de Jesus Square also houses the Church of Saint Peter of the Clergymen, which dates to 1709.
2
Cathedral Basilica of Salvador

2) Cathedral Basilica of Salvador (must see)

The Cathedral Basilica of Salvador, officially dedicated to the Transfiguration of Christ and named Primatial Cathedral Basilica of the Transfiguration of the Lord, is the seat of the archbishop of Salvador. The cathedral has been listed as a historic structure by the National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage since 1938.

The Cathedral Basilica of Salvador was originally built as part of a Jesuit monastic and educational complex. The first church was constructed in 1590. When the Dutch entered Salvador in 1624, the church was stripped of its silverwork and used as a warehouse.

The reconstruction of the complex was finished in 1654 after the Portuguese regained control of the city. It was built closely resemble the Jesuit Church of Coimbra in Portugal, carried out through the Mannerist architectural style and building the structure with Lioz stone sourced from Portugal.

Inside, the cathedral is a one-aisled church of rectangular shape, without transept, and with a very shallow main chapel. The side walls have a series of lateral chapels decorated with altarpieces. The chapels illustrate altarpiece art from the late 16th through the mid-18th centuries, all decorated with sculptures and paintings. The sacristy cabinet dates to the 17th century and showcase the life of Jesus in paintings on copper panels.

Much of the complex burned in 1905, leaving only the church behind. It was reconstructed in 1933 and then gained protected status. The cathedral is open to the general public for tours and worship.
3
Largo do Pelourinho (Pillory Street)

3) Largo do Pelourinho (Pillory Street)

Pillory Street (Largo do Pelourinho) is a historical area in the center of Salvador. The former slave market has developed into a prestigious neighborhood and cultural center. It is surrounded by notable buildings, which makes it a popular spot on a walking tour of the city. The street's official name is Jose de Alencar Square (Praca Jose de Alencar).

One of the most iconic buildings on Pillory Street is the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Black People. Other spots along Pillory Street worth visiting include the Jorge Amado House, the Bahian Gastronomy Museum (Museu da Gastronomia Baiana), and the Imaginary Museum (Museu do Imaginário Materializado).

Along with the best-preserved Colonial buildings lining the street, Pillory Street has its dark history. It was the area where pillories were kept for public shaming. Some of the victims were prisoners, but many were slaves who were attempting to flee to freedom.

According to UNESCO World Heritage classification, the Pillory Street area of Salvador da Bahia is considered the most important grouping of 17th & 18th Century Colonial Architecture in the Americas, Brazil.

The street is also known as the location for the music video "They Don't Care About Us" by Michael Jackson.
4
Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Black People

4) Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Black People (must see)

The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Black People is a Roman Catholic church along Pillory Street in Salvador. Construction on the Baroque-style church began in 1709 and took nearly 100 years.

The church was built by members of the Brotherhood of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Black Men of Pelourinho. Afro-Brazilian brotherhood, made up of both slaves and free blacks, petitioned for the church and used their learned skills and arduous labor under the direction of master craftsman Caetano Jose da Costa.

The facade of the building, designed by da Costa, was added after 1780. The frontispiece of the Church of the Rosary is highly complex. It is similar to the Parish Church of Saint Bartholomew in Maragogipe.

The church has two towers made of plain stone masonry, in contrast to the blue limestone of the facade. The towers have rectangular belfries with circular openings on four sides below the church bell windows. Each corner of the belfry has a stylized torchiere. A graveyard is accessible at the rear of the church.

The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Black People was listed as a historic structure by the National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage in 1938 and is part of the Historic Center of Salvador Unesco World Heritage Site.
5
São Francisco Church and Convent of Salvador

5) São Francisco Church and Convent of Salvador (must see)

São Francisco Church and Convent of Salvador is a church of the Third Order of Saint Francis in the historical center of Salvador.

The friars of the Franciscan Order constructed a convent and church after they arrived in Salvador in 1587. The religious buildings were destroyed during the Dutch invasions of Bahia in the 17th century. The current church was built on the ruins of the original structure. New construction began in 1708 and finished in 1723.

The interior of the church, completed in 1755, includes ornate gilded woodwork that covers the surfaces of the nave. The nave aisles were patterned after the Sao Francisco Church of Oporto and the Sao Roque in Lisbon.

The church has the distinction of featuring 55,000 glazed colored azulejos, the largest number of traditional Portuguese tiles in any church in Latin America. The tiles adorn the lower parts of the wall in the main chapel, and they entirely cover the cloister. The artist is unknown, but the artwork of the tiles is attributed to Bartolomeu Antunes de Jesus.

A large stone cross, common to Franciscan churches in Brazil, sits in front of the cathedral. It is 26 feet tall and has a base of 18 feet. The cross was imported from Lisbon in 1807.

The São Francisco Church and Convent of Salvador are important Colonial monuments in Brazil. The church and convent were listed as historic structures by the National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage in 1938. They are also considered one of the Seven Wonders of Portuguese Origin in the World.

The São Francisco Church and Convent are open to the public. Visitors may enter the church for tours or worship.
6
Elevador Lacerda (Lacerda Elevator)

6) Elevador Lacerda (Lacerda Elevator) (must see)

Lacerda Elevator is a public elevator in Salvador that connects the historical center of the upper city (Cidade Alto) with the financial and commercial lower city (Cidade Baixa). The elevator is 236 feet high.

Lacerda Elevator, built between 1869 and 1873, used hydraulic energy at first. The elevator was converted to electric in 1906. Its exterior was refurbished in 1930 in a new Art Deco style.

Lacerda Elevator consists of two towers with four lifts. One of the towers is embedded within the Mountain Slope (Ladeira da Montanha). The other reaches the level of the lower city or Cidade Baixa. Each of the four lifts can carry 27 passengers during its 30-second ride.

The elevator was named for Antonio de Lacerda, the director of the Commercial Association of Bahia at the time it was built.

Lacerda Elevator was listed as a historical site by the National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage in 2006.
7
Camara Municipal de Salvador (Salvador City Hall)

7) Camara Municipal de Salvador (Salvador City Hall)

The Salvador City Hall (Camara Municipal de Salvador) is a government building in the center of Salvador. It was constructed in 1549, shortly after the city was founded.

The building was originally the sole location of the city's government. The City Hall was also once the location of the public prison. It contained a men's and a women's prison on the first floor and basement. The building remained a prison for about 400 years.

Today, Salvador City Hall has a memorial that shows paintings and photos from the history of Salvador. The permanent exhibit is divided into sections that showcase the chamber's history, a gallery of benefactors, and a gallery of presidents.

The City Hall is part of the historical city center, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is open Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM. Patrons should be prepared to remember as much as they can about their visit to the museum, as photography is strictly forbidden.
8
Palacio Rio Branco (Rio Branco Palace)

8) Palacio Rio Branco (Rio Branco Palace)

The Rio Branco Palace (Palacio Rio Branco) is an imposing palace and museum in the historical center of Salvador. Built in 1549, Rio Branco Palace is one of the oldest palaces in the country.

Construction on the palace started under the first governor-general of Brazil, Tome de Sousa. Its purpose was to serve as the center of the Portuguese administration. It was known for its beauty and the vast number of rare books housed in the palace's library. Sadly, a bomb in 1912 devastated part of the building and destroyed all of the rare books in the palace's collection.

The palace was reconstructed in 1919 and was given a new, Neoclassical appearance. It was named in honor of Jose Paranhos, Baron of Rio Branco, a diplomat, historian, politician, and professor; considered the "father of Brazilian diplomacy."

Palacio Rio Branco is now home to the Pedro Calmon Foundation and Museum. It is part of the historical city center UNESCO World Heritage site.
9
Mercado Modelo (Modelo Market)

9) Mercado Modelo (Modelo Market) (must see)

Modelo Market is a handicraft market in one of the oldest and most traditional commercial districts of Salvador. The market is one of the city's most popular tourist attractions due to its unique nature, proximity to the Lacerda Elevator, and architecture.

The market was designed in the Neoclassical architectural style in 1860. Construction of the market was finally completed in 1911. It opened as a crafts market for the first time in 1912.

Modelo Market was created to provide a commercial center. It was necessary to have a central location for the city's booming population to purchase food and animals. Shoppers could also find cigars and distilled spirits called "cachacas" at the Model Mall.

The building consists of two floors with more than 250 stores. Most of the tenants sell handmade gifts, crafts, and souvenirs. There are also traditional restaurants in the market that offer local cuisine.

The market has suffered from numerous fires over the years. The most serious one occurred in the 1980s. After the devastation that was left in the fire's wake, the market was reconstructed in 1984.

Walking Tours in Salvador, Brazil

Create Your Own Walk in Salvador

Create Your Own Walk in Salvador

Creating your own self-guided walk in Salvador is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Salvador's Historical Churches Tour

Salvador's Historical Churches Tour

Salvador’s historic district contains many old Catholic churches with wonderful architecture and history. It has so many that some joke that one can visit a different church in Salvador each day of the year. Follow this self-guided walking tour to discover the city’s best churches.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles