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Salvador de Bahia

The former capital of Brazil, Salvador de Bahia, or simply Bahia, is today the hub of Afro-Brazilian culture. Set against a background of colonial houses and gilded churches dating back to the 17th century, Salvador de Bahia lives and breathes Africa: the rhythm of afoxé music, capoeira, the candomblé religion, the aroma of dende (African oil palm tree) oil in which the acarajés are deep-fried, the colours of Pelourinho district and the warm smiles of Bahia inhabitants... Bahia is vibrant throughout the year but it is in February that it exults during its Carnival considered as one of the best (and craziest...) in Brazil.

 

You will love:

 

• Igreja do Nosso Senhor do Bonfim. Built in 1740, on the « sacred » hill, this church is the most important place of worship in Bahia. Senhor do Bonfim is actually the patron saint of the capital. In January, the church celebrates the biggest religious festival of Salvador: the washing of the steps of the Igreja do Nosso Senhor do Bonfim. Visit the room of miracles that has an interesting collection of ex-votos.

 

• The São Joaquim market (open on all days except Sundays and public holidays) is a labyrinth of little streets that remind you of African souks where 7000 vendors display their wares ranging from live fowl, dry shrimp, spices, candomblé accessories...

 

• The Wednesday evening mass (6 p.m. - 7 p.m.) at the Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos church. This religious ceremony is an actual Gospel spectacle during which fervent faithful sing canticles set to African percussion beats. Whether or not you are a practising Catholic, you will appreciate the extraordinary ambience of the event that like the Iemanja festival in February, is a perfect example of Brazilian religious syncretism. Culinary specialities: moqueca, bobos, vatapa and acarajés (especially those from Largo de Santana Rio in the Vermelho district).