Historic Centre of Salvador de Bahia

UNESCO World Heritage

Historic Centre of Salvador de Bahia (1985) by Historic Centre of Salvador de BahiaUNESCO World Heritage

The first capital of Brazil

Founded in 1549 on a small peninsula that separates Todos os Santos Bay from the Atlantic Ocean on the northeast coast of Brazil, Salvador de Bahia became Portuguese America’s first capital and remained so until 1763. Its founding and historic role as colonial capital associate it with the theme of world exploration.

Renaissance urban structuring (1985) by Historic Centre of Salvador de BahiaUNESCO World Heritage

Salvador de Bahia’s historic centre – an eminent example of Renaissance urban structuring adapted to a colonial site – is the Cidade Alta (Upper Town), a defensive, administrative and residential neighbourhood perched atop an 85m-high escarpment.

The first Capital of Brazil (1985) by Historic Centre of Salvador de BahiaUNESCO World Heritage

This densely built colonial city par excellence of the Brazilian northeast is distinguished by its religious, civil and military colonial architecture dating from the 17th to the 19th centuries. Salvador de Bahia is also notable as one of the major points of convergence of European, African and American Indian cultures of the 16th to 18th centuries.

Historic Centre of Salvador de Bahia (1985) by Historic Centre of Salvador de BahiaUNESCO World Heritage

The settlement of Salvador de Bahia, strategically situated overlooking an immense bay on the Brazilian coast, was aimed at centralising the activities of the metropolis in Portuguese America and facilitating trade with Africa and the Far East. The city grew quickly, becoming Brazil’s main seaport and an important centre of the sugar industry and the slave trade.

Largo do Carmo (1985) by Historic Centre of Salvador de BahiaUNESCO World Heritage

The historic centre’s main districts are Sé, Pelourinho, Misericórdia, São Bento, Taboão, Carmo and Santo Antônio. Pelourinho is characterized by its fidelity to the 16th-century plan, the density of its monuments and the homogeneity of its construction.

In addition to major buildings dating from the 17th and 18th centuries such as the Catedral Basílica de Salvador and the churches and convents of São Francisco, São Domingos, Carmo and Santo Antônio, the Historic Centre of Salvador de Bahia retains a number of 16th century public spaces, including the Municipal Plaza, the Largo Terreiro de Jesus and the Largo de São Francisco, as well as baroque palaces, among them the Palácio do Arcebispado, Palácio Saldanha and Palácio Ferrão.

Church of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim (1985) by Historic Centre of Salvador de BahiaUNESCO World Heritage

There are many streets lined with brightly coloured houses, often decorated with fine stucco-work, that are characteristic of the colonial city. Salvador de Bahia was also, from 1558, the first slave market in the New World, with slaves arriving to work on the sugar plantations. Echoes of this multicultural past survive to the present day in the historic centre’s rich tangible and intangible heritage.

Renaissance urban structuring (1985) by Historic Centre of Salvador de BahiaUNESCO World Heritage

Salvador de Bahia is an eminent example of Renaissance urban structuring adapted to a colonial site having an upper city of a defensive, administrative and residential nature which overlooks the lower city where commercial activities revolve around the port.

Pelourinho (1985) by Historic Centre of Salvador de BahiaUNESCO World Heritage

The density of monuments, with Ouro Preto (included on the World Heritage List in 1980), makes it the colonial city par excellence in the Brazilian northeast.

Historic Centre of Salvador de Bahia (1985) by Historic Centre of Salvador de BahiaUNESCO World Heritage

Salvador de Bahia is one of the major points of convergence of European, African and American Indian cultures of the 16th to 18th centuries.

Renaissance urban structuring (1985) by Historic Centre of Salvador de BahiaUNESCO World Heritage

Its founding and historic role as capital of Brazil quite naturally associate it with the theme of world exploration already illustrated by the inclusion on the World Heritage List of the Old Havana (1982), Angra do Heroismo (1983), San Juan de Puerto Rico (1983) and Cartagena (1984).

Church of São Francisco (1985) by Historic Centre of Salvador de BahiaUNESCO World Heritage

Church and Convent of São Francisco

The São Francisco Church and its adjacent convent are located in the Pelourinho district and represented by two historical buildings ranked among the most outstanding expressions of Brazilian Baroque style.

Church and Convent of São Francisco (1985) by Historic Centre of Salvador de BahiaUNESCO World Heritage

Built in the 17th and 18th centuries, the sober facade of the complex hides its lush interior.

Church and Convent of São Francisco (1985) by Historic Centre of Salvador de BahiaUNESCO World Heritage

It is listed as a National Heritage Site by the National Artistic and Historical Heritage Institute and is considered one of the Seven Portuguese Wonders of the World.

Church and Convent of São Francisco (1985) by Historic Centre of Salvador de BahiaUNESCO World Heritage

Church of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim (1985) by Historic Centre of Salvador de BahiaUNESCO World Heritage

Church of Senhor do Bonfim

The construction of Senhor do Bonfim Church started in 1754 and it was only completed nearly 20 years later. Featuring a Portuguese colonial architecture, with two bell towers on each side, the Church stands out for its size and its special positioning in Sagrada Colina [Sacred Hill].

Church of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim (1985) by Historic Centre of Salvador de BahiaUNESCO World Heritage

It is one of Salvador’s most traditional churches and one of the greatest symbols of the local religious syncretism. Known by the Catholics’ faith in the city’s patron saint, the Church also represents elements of Candomblé, where the Saint joins Oxalá, the father of all Orixás.

Church of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim (1985) by Historic Centre of Salvador de BahiaUNESCO World Heritage

Lavagem do Bonfim, a ritual held in January during which Bahia women walk to the Church to the sound of African chants to wash its steps with scented water.

Credits: Story

This exhibit was created by Embratur.
www.embratur.gov.br

More on Salavador de Bahia and World Heritage:
whc.unesco.org/en/list/309

Photos: Embratur; Turismo Bahia; Paul R. Burley; Fabio Gomes; Andrevruas

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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