Salvador's Historical Churches Tour, Salvador

Salvador's Historical Churches Tour (Self Guided), Salvador

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.
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Salvador's Historical Churches Tour Map

Guide Name: Salvador's Historical Churches 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: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Igreja do Boqueirão (Church of Boqueirao)
  • Igreja Convento do Carmo (Carmo Church and Convent)
  • Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Black People
  • São Francisco Church and Convent of Salvador
  • Church of the Third Order of Penitence of São Domingos de Osma
  • Church of Saint Peter of the Clergymen
  • Cathedral Basilica of Salvador
  • Igreja e Museu da Misericórdia (Church and Museum of Mercy)
  • Igreja Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia (Basilica of the Immaculate Conception)
1
Igreja do Boqueirão (Church of Boqueirao)

1) Igreja do Boqueirão (Church of Boqueirao)

The Church of the Third Order of Nossa Senhora da Conceição do Boqueirão dos Homens Pardos is a Catholic temple built in 1727 and located in the neighborhood of Santo Antônio in Salvador.

Its construction started in 1727 to house the Brotherhood of N. Sra. of the Conception of Brown Men. Until then, this Brotherhood occupied the Mother Church of Santo Antônio. The building was completed only between the end of the 18th century and the mid-19th century, with the implementation of the towers.

The plan of the church is composed of two floors, ground floor and first floor, as well as two basements. On the ground floor are located the nave, the side aisles and the sacristy at the back. On the upper floor are the galleries. the choir and consistory room. The last basement is used as a catacomb in the 19th century.

On its main façade, there are two towers flanking the central body, which follows the Rococo style. Its tiled pediment, characteristic of churches of that time in Bahia, is decorated with volutes and a shell-shaped niche. Its towers have oculus and end with a bulb and pinnacles, in an octagonal shape. One of the towers is a bell tower.

Inside it is decorated in neoclassical and baroque style. It has three altars richly covered in gold and the carving work was carried out by Joaquim Francisco de Mattos and Antônio de Souza Santa Rosa. Its floor is white and gray marble. The ceiling of the nave is attributed to a disciple of José Joaquim da Rocha, who executed a painting following his style, the baroque illusionist perspective.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
2
Igreja Convento do Carmo (Carmo Church and Convent)

2) Igreja Convento do Carmo (Carmo Church and Convent)

The Carmo Convent in Salvador is one of the largest and oldest of the Order of Carmo in Brazil . It began to be built in 1586 by the First Order of Carmelite Friar . It served as a shelter for the Bahians who, in the war against the Dutch , who wanted to dominate Bahia , and consequently Brazil, found refuge and safety in the walls, which are true fortresses.

The Church of Carmo in Salvador is the church of the homonymous convent , built for the liturgical acts of the Carmelite religious , like every convent or abbey that has its own private church.

This church is in the Baroque style and its current structure basically includes elements from the 17th and 18th centuries, although its construction began at the end of the 16th century.

On its main facade there are three large doors, with a bell tower on the left. It has a single nave and on the ceiling there is a painting of Our Lady and the Carmelite Saints. Its sacristy, in Rococo style , impresses with its beauty.

Its altars were made of wood, coated with gold and the main altar table is made of silver dating from the 18th century. The floor, the baptismal font and parts of the wall were made of lioz limestone, brought from Portugal.

The convent is one of the largest in the world, with two cloisters and eighty cells.

Beside the Igreja do Carmo , which is attached to the grandiose convent, is the Igreja da Ordem Terceira do Carmo , which constitutes another masterpiece of incomparable beauty. The Igreja do Carmo also features one of the most beautiful sacristies in the world, now reclusive (closed to the public). However, a small sacristy was built to be used by the Rector of that church in his liturgical acts .

Since the 1970s , the Convent has had a hotel assignment due to a lack of enough friars . Due to its location in the Historic Center of Salvador , Pousada do Convento do Carmo is a repetition of what happens in Europe , where hotels are installed in historic buildings, and it is the first luxury historic hotel in the country .
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
3
Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Black People

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

The Church of the Third Order of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Black People (Portuguese: Igreja da Ordem Terceira de Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos) is an 18th-century Roman Catholic church in Salvador. Construction of the church took almost 100 years. It is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary and belongs to the Archdiocese of São Salvador da Bahia. The church was listed as a historic structure by National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage (IPHAN) in 1938 and is part of the Historic Center of Salvador UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Church of the Rosary of the Blacks is an imposing structure accessed from the sloping Rua do Carmo by a patio. The patio, which serves as the churchyard, has a low iron fence. The façade has a central body of two floors, crowned by a pediment of gable wreaths, and flanked by bell towers whose finish has superimposed bulbs covered with tiles. There are five doors at the ground floor. The central door is broad, imposing, and framed by a separate frontispiece. The fifth door, at the base of the right tower, provides access to the oratory; this design is also seen in the church of Santo Antônio Alem do Carmo and the Church of Boqueirão. Above the five doors are five windows of delicate design.

The design of the facade, built after 1780, is attributed to the master craftsman Caetano José da Costa. The frontispiece of the Church of the Rosary is highly complex. It is similar to that of Parish Church of Saint Bartholomew in Maragogipe, constructed in the second half of the 17th century.

The two church towers are in plain stone masonry, in contrast to the blue limestone of the facade. The towers have rectangular belfries with oculi on four sides below the church bell windows. The belfries are surmounted by tiled bulbous structures. Each cornier of the belfry has a stylized torchère.

A graveyard is located to the rear of the church.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
4
São Francisco Church and Convent of Salvador

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

The São Francisco Church and Convent of Salvador is located in the historical centre of Salvador. The convent and its church are very important colonial monuments in Brazil. The current church was built between 1708 and 1723, but the interior was decorated by several artists during a great part of the 18th century. Most decoration of the church and convent were finished by 1755.

The friars of the Franciscan Order arrived in Salvador in 1587 and soon built a convent and church, but these were destroyed during the Dutch invasions of Bahia in the early 17th century. The works on the current convent began in 1686 under Father Vicente das Chagas following a grandiose design that took decades to complete. The current church was built between 1708 and 1723, but the interior was decorated by several artists during a great part of the 18th century. Most decoration of the church and convent were finished by 1755 as well.

The wooden ceiling of the entrance hall was painted with scenes in illusionistic perspective by José Joaquim da Rocha in 1774. The two-storey cloisters, finished around 1752, were decorated with monumental panels of blue-white tile panels. The tiles, with moralistic allegories based on 17th century-Flemish engravings and sayings by Roman poet Horace, were manufactured in Lisbon.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
5
Church of the Third Order of Penitence of São Domingos de Osma

5) Church of the Third Order of Penitence of São Domingos de Osma

Igreja da Ordem Terceira da Penitência de São Domingos de Osma , or Church and House of the Third Order of São Domingos , is an 18th-century Roman Catholic church in Salvador. The church is dedicated to Saint Dominic , a Castilian priest and founder of the Dominican Order . It belongs to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of São Salvador da Bahia .

It occupies the northwest perimeter of the Terreiro de Jesus, in front of the Basilica Cathedral of Salvador. The church was listed as a historic structure by the Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional in 1938.

The Church of the Third Order of Penitence of São Domingos was built in stone and lime masonry. It has two side buildings separated from the church by longitudinal aisles with tribunes at the top. Its main façade is decorated with sandstone vases and cymatium, has elements of the Rococo style and a tower ending in a bulb.

Inside it has a single monumental nave, a choir, novitiate, a main chapel and main altar, a sacristy, two side corridors, a room dedicated to Our Lady of Death ( Nossa Senhora da Boa Morte ), a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Death and other various rooms.

The room dedicated to Nossa Senhora da Morte now functions as an exhibition room for works of art, mainly statues of saints, from the church.

Antônio Mendes da Silva carved an elaborate altarpiece in the chancel between 1745 and 1748. The original baroque carving was replaced by neoclassical carving in 1873, by Joaquim Rodrigues de Farias. The richness of the Third Order is reflected in the elaborate decoration and use of jacaranda throughout the building. It has a massive circular staircase with a jacaranda wood railing and base, in Rococo style, which gives access to the upper floor, where the consistory, the choir, the tribunes of the chancel and nave are located, in addition to the secretariat room.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
6
Church of Saint Peter of the Clergymen

6) Church of Saint Peter of the Clergymen

The Church of Saint Peter of the Clergymen (Portuguese: Igreja de São Pedro dos Clérigos) is an 18th-century Roman Catholic church in Salvador. It was constructed by the Brotherhood of Saint Peter in approximately 1709 and was renovated in the 18th and 19th centuries. The church was listed as a historic structure by National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage (IPHAN) in 1938 and is part of the Historic Center of Salvador UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Church of Saint Peter of the Clergymen was built in the tradition of Bahian churches of the 18th century, with a single nave and lateral corridors surmounted by tribunes. It lacks the transverse sacristy of other churches of the period. The exterior is of stone masonry and brick and opens directly onto the Terreiro de Jesus. A small church yard is of stone and is enclosed by an iron fence. A planned right-hand bell tower was never constructed. The decor of the interior of the church represents the transition between the both Rococo and Neoclassical styles in Bahia.

The high altar follows the design of the Italian Jesuit artist Andrea Pozzo (1642-1709). It is complemented by two altars at the corner of the chancel arch. An image of Our Lady of the Conception is at center of the high altar. A life-size statue of Saint Peter in full papal costume is placed to the right of the high altar; and image of Saint Paul is to the left. The church also has images of Santa Luzia, Saint Amaro, Saint Eligius, and Our Lady of the Gate of Heaven. The high altar and two side altars are in the Neoclassical style, with no trace of the baroque.

The painting on the ceiling of the nave depicts the Confession of Peter from the Book of Matthew. The painting is attributed to José Rodrigues Nunes (1800-1881), the only named artist to work in the church; no written record of his on the nave ceiling painting exists, other than by oral tradition. The nave ceiling has triangular vaults with elaborate gilt tracings above each opening to the tribune; each vault has an oval painting of an early benefactor of the church within.

The Church of Saint Peter of the Clergymen was listed as a historic structure by the National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage in 1941. It was listed in the Book of Historical Works, Inscription 168 and 254-A; and the Book of Fine Arts, Inscription fls 54. Both directives are dated September 9, 1941.

The Church of Saint Peter of the Clergymen is open to the public and may be visited. The feast days of Saints Peter and Paul are on June 29 and 30, and are likely the important celebration days of the church.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
7
Cathedral Basilica of Salvador

7) Cathedral Basilica of Salvador (must see)

The Cathedral Basilica of Salvador, officially dedicated to the Transfiguration of Christ, is the seat of the Archbishop of the city of Salvador. In its origins the present cathedral building was the church of the Jesuit Order of Salvador. The Jesuits arrived in the city still in the 16th century and built a first church and college.

In the second half of the 17th century the Jesuits built a new church - the one that exists today - in the Mannerist style then fashionable in Portugal. The façade is very similar to contemporary Portuguese churches like the Jesuit Church of Coimbra. The façade is made in light Lioz stone brought from Portugal and is flanked by two short bell towers.

Inside, the cathedral is a one-aisled church of rectangular shape, without transept and with a very shallow main chapel. The side walls of the church have a series of lateral chapels decorated with altarpieces. This floorplan scheme is based on the Church of São Roque in LisbonThe chapels of the cathedral offer an interesting showcase of altarpiece art from the late 16th through the mid-18th centuries, all decorated with sculptures and paintings. The sacristy of the church is richly decorated with Baroque furniture, 17th century Portuguese tiles and ceiling wooden panels painted with Mannerist motifs and portraits of important Jesuits.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
8
Igreja e Museu da Misericórdia (Church and Museum of Mercy)

8) Igreja e Museu da Misericórdia (Church and Museum of Mercy)

The Church and Santa Casa da Misericórdia (Portuguese: Igreja e Santa Casa de Misericórdia) is a former church and hospital in Salvador. It was established as a branch of the Santa Casa da Misericórdia in 1549; a hospital, Hospital da Caridade (English: Charity Hospital), functioned from the 17th century. The Santa Casa additionally held a monopoly on burials in colonial Bahia. It was additionally funded by its brotherhood, the Brotherhood of Santa Casa. The Santa Casa of Bahia accepted the donation of a slave-holding plantation, the Fazenda Saubara in present-day Saubara, in 1652.

The Church and Santa Casa da Misericórdia is located in the Historic Center of Salvador. Its monumental portals and baroque façade face a narrow street that runs through the historic center. The rear of the Santa Casa opens to views of the Bay of All Saints. The building was adjacent to the Old Cathedral of Salvador to the north; the demolition of the old cathedral in 1933 disfigured the north façade of the Santa Casa. The old cathedral was replaced by a public square, the Praça da Sé, and the Santa Casa now faces the Archbishop's Palace of Salvador.

The Church and Santa Casa da Misericórdia was listed as a historic structure by the National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage in 1938.

The former hospital and chapel now functions as a museum, the Misericórdia Museum (Portuguese: Museu da Misericórdia).

Museu da Misericórdia, located in Santa Casa da Misericórdia is dedicated to the country’s history in medicine. It had been a clay hospital that was replaced by this complex built around two cloisters and a church in 1697. Portraits of notable city figures who donated funds for this museum can be found inside.

It has a collection of 3,874 pieces of furniture, art, sacred imagery, and relics of the Hospital da Caridade itself. The museum additionally maintains the chapel of Santa Casa, much in its original form.

It is open from Tuesday through Friday, from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm; Saturday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
9
Igreja Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia (Basilica of the Immaculate Conception)

9) Igreja Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia (Basilica of the Immaculate Conception)

The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (Portuguese: Basílica Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia) was built in 1623, making it one of the oldest parishes in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of São Salvador da Bahia. It was the first church built by the first governor-general of Brazil, Tomé de Sousa. The current structure was prefabricated in Portugal and assembled in Salvador; its construction began in 1739 and ended in the mid 19th century. The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception was listed as a historic structure by the National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage in 1938.

Its monumental façade is a hybrid of Baroque and Neoclassical styles, and is based on church façades of the period in Portugal. The building was designed by Manuel Cardoso Saldanha. Its elevation to the status of basilica took place in 1946. Pope Pius XII declared Our Lady of Conception the sole patron of the State of Bahia.

The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception has a monumental façade of lioz, with straight lines and rectangular details. The façade is flanked by two diagonal towers which "give a baroque touch to the design of the church box." The church is noted for its use of natural light: it has a copula above the chancel and faces directly west to utilize light from the Bay of All Saints via numerous doors and windows.

The basilica has 16 church bells. They served as an alarm system to the entire city of Salvador from the 18th century. The bells fell into disuse by 1990. They were restored and reactivated in 2021, and ring at 12 noon and 6pm. The bells can additionally play hymns for special occasions.

The interior of the church is the first complete example of the Baroque style of John V of Portugal; it was partially altered in the Neoclassical style in the 19th century. The high altar is ornate, with monumental Solomonic columns, an altar in silver, and an image of Our Lady of the Conception at center. The master carver João Moreira do Espírito Santo completed the carving of the high altar in cedar between 1765 and 1773. The ceiling of the nave has a large-scale painting of Our Lady of the Conception. It was painted in the Italianate Baroque illusionist style and by José Joaquim da Rocha (c. 1737–1807).

The church has eight side chapels: three along each side of the nave and one at either side of the high altar. The chapel at the right of the higher altar is dedicated to the Holy Christ (Capela do Santo Cristo).
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles