Salvador: Vacations and travel info
Ever since colonial times, Salvador de Bahia has been the gateway to one of the most beautiful countries in South America: Brazil. The city of Salvador, originally founded as "Sao Salvador da Bahia de Todos os Santos", is one of the cities that best represents the joyful spirit that characterizes Brazilian culture. With African roots and an outgoing personality, this port city holds rich history and a promising future.
Outside of Brazil, the city is known as "Salvador de Bahia", since it's the capital of a state by the same name; Brazilians, however, simply know it as Salvador. Years ago, the city was called "Bahia" even by its inhabitants. The state of Bahia has the largest African influence in Brazil, home to poets and musicians, a place that has forged the country's cultural identity.
The city of Salvador has the third highest population in Brazil. The charm of its melting pot culture, along with its bright personality, makes Salvador a fascinating destination. The "Capital da Alegria" (Capital of Joy), as it's called, owes its fame to its spectacular festivals, colorful colonial architecture, cultural traditions and beautiful beaches with warm waters. Above all, Salvador stands out for the vibrant character that runs through its veins.
At the beginning of the sixteenth century, when the first Portuguese explorers landed in what would become Brazil, they saw the country as an immense island bordered by the Atlantic and separated from the continent by the Orinoco, Paraguay, Parana and Rio de Plata rivers. They claimed all the land bordered by these bodies of water as their own.
A few decades later, under orders from the king of Portugal to build a fort city, the governor of Brazil (Tome de Sousa) came to the Bahia area with three ships, two caravels and a brig. They decided to construct a city in an area with the ideal geography to serve as a port, as well. Along with the governor, a thousand more people joined in to establish Salvador as a Portuguese colony.
Due to the lay of the land, the city was divided into two areas. On the higher ground were the government buildings, religious powers and most of the population. In the lower area were the market and the port facilities. Over the years, Salvador continued to grow as in important port city, eventually becoming a crucial spot for the sugar industry as well as for slave trafficking.
Pelourinho is a Portuguese word that is best translated into the English word "pillory", a stone column, often built with various adornments. They traditionally stand upright at the entrance to a city or in the center of important plazas, often used to punish convicts by putting them on display for public ridicule. The area of Salvador that today is known as Pelourinho, within the historic center, is where the pillories used to be situated in colonial times, typically used to punish slaves.
During the city's colonial area and up until the beginning of the 20th century, Pelourinho was by far the largest residential district. This area was chosen for homes due to its high elevation; its position created a natural wall that allowed the population to remain protected in case of an invasion. This neighborhood has also suffered through years of decadence that add some color to its history; in the sixties, it was a popular area for prostitution and criminals.
Beginning in the eighties, when Pelourinho was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO, lots of work was done to improve the neighborhood's security, beauty and colorful Baroque style that can still be seen on many building facades. Pelourinho is known as Salvador's bohemian neighborhood, home to artists and musicians. A visit to this area is a trip through the past and present of Salvador.
Salvador is a unique city whose architecture is filled with eye-catching contrasts, from Baroque colonial styles to modern skyscrapers. This city is also an important religious center, home to the main headquarters of Candomble, a Brazilian religion with African origins.
Salvador is also the capital of the capoeira dance, an intriguing form of martial arts disguised as a dance, created by slaves who wanted to express themselves without feeling repressed.
What else can you expect when traveling to Salvador, Brazil? A complete destination combining culture, cuisine and even adventurous beach activities. This is a stunning city filled with rich culture, a vibrant population and immense festivals, in addition to beautiful traditional music like afoxe, axe and, of course, samba.
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