Attractions in Salvador: What to do and where to go
Salvador is a tourist destination with traces of a colonial city and, at the same time, is a place where you can enjoy the sea. There are blue oceans, warm weather and great swimming. From the highest point of the city, admire a brilliant view of the Atlantic Ocean, which had been for centuries the route that connected Brazil to the Old World. Salvador is the sea port that has many centuries of colorful history.
The "Roma Negra" (nickname for Salvador and literally means "Black Rome" due to the fact that the city has the largest population of black people outside of Africa) draws people to the beauty of its architecture and its fascinating mix of cultures, with a strong African influence, producing variations in the music, dance and even the cuisine. In this city with a tropical climate, you can also find tourist complexes as well as a wide array of shopping malls and restaurants. This is a destination that's great for all tastes and budgets.
Salvador, which has a long history, is a place that has changed the image of what people outside of Brazil think about of its culture. When one thinks about Brazil, they think about Carnival, beaches, music, good vibes, dancing and soccer. The State of Bahia, in particular Salvador, is the ideal site to savor the attractions of this amazing country.
Every year, Carnaval is celebrated forty days before Easter and is a Catholic-inspired celebration. The groups that make up Carnaval are called "blocos" and are a group of people celebrating in a group and wearing the same costumes. There are "blocos" of samba, transvestites, Africans, afoxe (Afro-Brazilian instrument that has beads netted around a gourd, which is shaken to produce music) and reggae, among many other themes.
In the Carnaval del Salvador is, for some, is the best celebration in the world because of the richness of the Bahia culture and how popular it is. They use electronic trios, which are trucks specially adapted for this purpose, mounted with speakers and decorated accordingly, used as transport during a parade of musicians. These moving stages move along predetermined routes during Carnaval.
Even though it only lasts several days, the party preparations are long, time consuming and pretty much last the entire year. In Salvador, there are different groups rehearsing and preparing for Carnaval. The music is an essential element of the celebration and since this region of the country has a very deeply rooted culture, musicians come out in full force, playing axe and samba, truly typical of this part of the country.
The architectural contrasts of Salvador can be appreciated with every step you take so take in the enormous churches and old colonial houses, as well as the humble little houses made out of straw in the "favelas" (the poorer neighborhoods). There are also luxurious mansions surrounded by gardens and overlooking the sea. Close to these buildings, you can also see street booths, constructed out of cheap materials.
The oldest part of the city is Pelourinho, an old neighborhood of winding, labyrinth-type streets that make their way up and down, around the large houses with the picturesque facades. The cobblestone streets and the multicolored walls create a postcard-looking backdrop for the passerby. There is a certain appreciation for, and much influence by, the Spanish style which puts the living room in the front of the house, a garden in the back, high walled buildings and, in this case, finishings made out of Portuguese ceramic.
The religious architecture, as it is in the majority of the colonial cities, has directly influenced the layout and the growth of the city. The order of the Benedictines was the one that was in charge of building and administering many of the older constructions of the city. The majority of the churches in the area were constructed between the 17th and 18th centuries, especially those that were heavily decorated with baroque and, in some cases, even rococo.
Salvador has many beaches that line the Todos los Santos Bay, where both tourists and locals come to enjoy a day out. Much has been said about these beaches, saying that they fall short of those in Rio. That may be true but no one can deny that the charm of this coastline doesn't come from its beauty nor from its length but from the festive ambiance that you can feel there. Among those beaches that are most popular, you can find Itapuan, Pituba, Artistas and Porto da Barra. These have restaurants where you can enjoy a mix of African and European cuisine, mixed with typical ingredients from the region.
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