Historic Buildings & Monuments

The old town of Pelourinho was recognized in 1985 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

At the top of the cliff at the edge of Pelourinho one finds the Praça Tomé de Souza, flanked on one side by a glass-cube-on-stilts that houses the city hall, on the other side by the neoclassical Palácio Rio Branco, and on the cliff face by the Art Deco Elevator Lacerda. The original 80m-tall (236-ft.) elevator was built in 1872 to whisk people between the upper and lower city. The present Art Deco look was added in 1930, when the old mechanism was replaced with hydraulics. The elevator was also then rechristened "Lacerda" in honor of the original engineer. Open daily from 5am to midnight. Admission is R$.10, the cheapest ride in town.



After taking Salvador back from the Dutch in 1625, the Portuguese went on a bit of a fort-building binge. Fortresses small and large were built or strengthened all along the Bay of All Saints. Perhaps the city's most famous fort is the perfectly round Forte São Marcelo, built in 1625 in the Bay of All Saints directly opposite the lower town. The current low, thick walls were built in 1738. Jorge Amado called the fort "the belly button of Bahia." It was recently restored and is now open for visits (Tues-Sun 9am-6pm). South of Pelourinho stand two forts fairly close to each other. The Forte de São Diogo saw a great deal of action during the second Dutch invasion of 1638. Inside, there's a small model of the system of forts protecting the city. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30am to noon and 1:30 to 5:30pm. The Forte de Santa Maria is located on Avenida Sete de Setembro just a bit north of the Farol de Barra point. Its complement of large guns is still in position. Open Tuesday through Friday from 8am to 6pm, and Saturday from 8am to noon. The city's most important fortress, the Forte de Santo Antônio, was built in 1583, taken by the Dutch in 1624, retaken by the Portuguese in 1625, and rebuilt into its current form in 1702. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 9am to 7pm (to 9pm in summer).

Churches & Temples


Salvador has a wealth of beautiful old churches, so many in fact that a couple in the centro histórico stand abandoned, sizable trees growing from their ornate baroque bell towers. Some of the best churches are discussed above in the sections Pelourinho or Bonfim. One not covered but that's still worth mentioning is Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia, Largo de Conceição de Praia (tel. 071/3242-0545). Open Tuesday through Friday from 6:30 to 11:30am and 3 to 5:30pm, and Saturday through Monday from 6:30 to 11:30am. Located in the lower city a couple hundred feet south (left) of the Elevator Lacerda, the building was prefabricated in Portugal, shipped in parts to Salvador, and erected in 1736. On the third Thursday in January a huge procession of white-clad Baianas sets off from this church -- water jars on their heads -- on their 8km (5-mile) trek to the Church of N.S. do Bonfim, where with great ceremony they wash the church steps.

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