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Salvador de Bahia

Salvador is a feast for the eyes of any architecture lover as it dates back to colonial times and holds some of the finest examples of Baroque architecture. Though of course any visitor feels the distinction between the old parts of the city filled with history and the new areas filled with commerce and modern buildings, as one does when wandering from the neighborhood of Pelourniho to that of Barra.

There are many beautiful churches, colonial mansions and squares which are concentrated especially in the Pelourinho, Terreiro de Jesus, and Achieta areas. The Church of St. Francis and The Church of the Third Order of St. Francis are two key examples of the Baroque style that is found in these areas.

This neighborhood looks exactly as it did in the 18th century with its streets lined with colonial mansions. In 1995 Pelourinho was nominated a UNESCO World Heritage site, and after heavy restoration in the early 1990's it has become a high tourist attraction for its history, colorful buildings, cobbled streets and pulsating nightlife.

Nossa Senhora da Conceicao da Praia
This church is located in the lower city, to the left of the Elevator Lacerda. The church was "conceived" in Portugal, partially shipped to Salvador, and completed in 1736. This is the start off point of the Baianas to the Church of N.S. do Bonfim, where the ritualistic washing of the steps takes place in the yearly festival.

The Igreja de Bonfim
The is the Church whose steps are graced with cleansing in the yearly festival of Lavagem do Bonfim. Located on the peninsula of Itapagipe, it is highly venerated by both Catholics and Cadomblistas alike. The Room of Miracles (Sala dos Milagres) is a place where people leave offerings of plastic replicas of body parts as appreciation and thank you to the gods for curing their ailments.

Inside, the wooden statue of Jesus was carved in Setubal, Portugal in the 18th century. The tradition of making a wish on a ribbon that is then knotted around your wrist and comes true when the ribbon falls off, "fitas do Senhor do Bonfim" (Fitas are ribbons, and Senhor do Bonfim is associated with both Jesus Christ and Oxala) is based on a common Portuguese custom, in which originally the ribbons were silk and tied about your neck. Now, the ribbons are 47 centimeters in length, matching the right arm of the wooden statue.

Along the Bay of All Saints in the 17th century the Portuguese built and refurbished a lot of forts, after the defeat of the Dutch. The Forte de Sao Marcelo is a perfectly round port, deemed the "belly button of Bahia" by Jorge Amado. The Forte de Santo Antonio is the city's most important fort, built in 1538 and rebuilt as it stands today in 1702.

Other forts of special note are Forte de Sao Diogo, Monte Serrat Fort, and Forte de Santa Maria.

Elevator Lacerda
This elevator is one of the main connecting routes between the high and lower city, and was originally built in 1872. It was renovated and turned into the Art-Deco design in 1930, and named Lacerda in honor of the original engineer. It now has air-conditioning, offers a beautiful view of the city and bay as you rise to the top, and offers transportation to more then 50,000 people a year.

Though this isn't directly within Salvador, a tour or trip to the oldest farmlands in Brazil is a remarkable opportunity to experience not only the rural life of the Brazilian people but also this 16th century town, Cachoeira. This town was the heart of the sugar and tobacco booms that provided the early wealth for the Portuguese colony. The riches from this boom were infused into building beautiful churches and homes. Here you can see beautiful examples of Baroque and Rococco architecture in Brazil. It has been declared a UNESCO World Monument, and has been remarkably untouched by the 20th century, maintaining its small and colonial town feeling. The yearly Nossa Senhora da Boa Morte (Our Lady of the Good Death) Festival is held here as well.

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