Salvador, Brazil’s first capital and one of the oldest cities in the New World was founded in 1549 by the Portuguese, Salvador lies on the northeast coast of Brazil in the state of Bahia. Often called Salvador da Bahia, the city sits atop a peninsula that has the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Bahia de Todos on the other. With a population of almost 3 million people, Salvador is Brazil’s third largest city behind Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Salvador is divided into two main parts, the Cidade Alta and the Cidade Baixa, Salvadors nightlife as well as the main tourist district is located in the upper city or Cidade Alta. The historic neighborhood of Pelourinho is found in the Cidade Alta, narrow and winding cobble stone streets lined with 17 and 18 century Colonial buildings
and churches make up this Unesco World Heritage site. If you are looking for museums head to the Vitoria section of Cidade Alta.
Heading south towards the end of the peninsula one will find the lighthouse and the forts of the Barra District. South America’s oldest lighthouse is located inside the walls of the Forte de Santo Antonio da Barra, along the beach of Barra are located two other colonial forts , Forte Sao Diogo and Forte Santa Maria. Many people tend to gather on the peninsula to watch the daily sunsets, it is here and nowhere else in Brazil, that the sun gives the impression of setting in the ocean. The beaches of Barra are clean, with crystal clear waters and the waterfront is lined with many restaurants and bars.
Salvador’s commercial and financial district is found in the lower city or Cidade Baixa, home to modern skyscrapers, the Mercado Modelo as well as the port of Salvador. In Mercado Modelo, once home to the Customs House, built in 1861 this structure was used for the storage of slaves that were brought to Bahia to be auctioned. Today the Mercado Modelo is a place to go for live music and food.
Brazil’s second largest carnival outside of Rio de Janeiro is celebrated in Salvador. It is said that Salvador’s carnival is the world’s largest street party, with almost 2 million people celebrating in the streets of Salvador, starting on a Thursday night and ending on Wednesday morning a week later. Large trucks with huge speakers make their way around a circuit on the streets of Salvador. One will find three of these circuits or parties throughout the city. The Barra to Rio Vermelho circuit, the Pelourinho circuit and the Campo Grande Circuit to Praca Castro circuit.
Participants buy tickets and are given T-shirts that give them access to that night’s party on a given circuit. Sandwiched between these monster trucks with speakers and the participants are “blocos afros” Afro –Brazilian drum corps. The roving block party is kept together with large ropes that are moved as the party traverses the streets of Salvador.
Salvador’s climate is considered tropical with hot and high humidity days year round. Yet with almost a constant breeze coming from the Atlantic Ocean, temperatures rarely go above 86 degrees. Salvador’s rainy season runs from May to January with an annual rainfall of around 80 inches.
With Colonial architecture, crystal clear waters and some of the longest beaches in Brazil, Salvador with its world’s largest street party during Carnival has become the second most popular tourist spot in all of Brazil.