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Salvador Guide, Brazil

 

When the Portuguese crown first decided to carry out the endeavour of colonising Brazil, the first urban area to be settled in was Salvador, which was established on 29 March 1549. This is one of the reasons why the coastal city in the country’s north-east was one of the main poles of slave trade in South America. As a consequence, Salvador grew under deep influence of Portuguese, Afro-descendents and indigenous alike: a situation that contributed to the cultural richness that typifies the city today.

The presence of African elements is all around in Salvador, from the circles of capoeira (a combination of martial art and dance brought to Brazil by African slaves) at the Modelo Martket to the beat of theagogôs and atabaques (percussion instruments) in the rites of the Candomblé – a syncretic religion conceived in Brazil. Such African heritage has awarded Salvador with the nickname Roma Negra (Black Rome).

Salvador’s privileged topography is one of its most appealing attributes, with a clear division between the Cidade Baixa and Cidade Alta (Low City and High City), both of which are connected to each other by one of the city’s most important sights, the Elevador Lacerda. But the ultimate icon of the city is the Pelourinho, which is its historical centre: its churches and colourful colonial buildings have been a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985.

Besides being a historical gem and the birthplace of several of Brazil’s most significant artists, the capital of the state of Bahia has also grown and developed to become the economic centre in the north-east and the country’s third-most populous city, with roughly three million residents.

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