With nearly 500 years of history, Salvador is an open-air museum containing over 70 museums ranging from the sacred to the profane, from the arts to literature with plenty of Africa in its heart.
UFBA Museum of Sacred Art Located in the Convent of Santa Teresa de Ávila founded by the Barefooted Carmelites in the 17th Century. Visitors can enjoy rare Indo-Portuguese and Ceylon-Portuguese images that travelled to Brazil in the 17th and 18th Centuries, a considerable collection of 18th Century silverware that embellished the churches of the capital and pictures by the master José Joaquim da Rocha. www.mas.ufba.br
Here, the true past is salvaged and the myth that Africans were primitive is dispelled. Visitors can study the slavers routes, observe the clothing and hairstyles of the era or admire the carved wood panels by Carybé. (See this month’s dividers). www.mafro.ceao.ufba.br
Solar Ferrao Cultural Centre
Located in the street that immortalises the Bahian satirical poet Gregório de Matos, here you can discover the collection of popular art of Lina Bo Bardi, especially the carranca sculptures, which were used to ward off evil spirits. The building houses Claudio Masella’s collection of African art and “sound alchemist" Walter Smetak’s collection of instruments. www.ipac.ba.gov.br/museus
Solar do Unhão and the Museum of Modern Art
This traditional colonial residence (mansion, church, mill and slave quarters) houses the Museum of Modern Art and is probably the only museum in the world located at the beach. Enjoy the sunset in the park of sculptures alongside the work of Bel Borba, Mário Cravo Junior, Master Didi and Carybé. The collection includes works by Tarsila do Amaral and Portinari. More Info
Barra Lighthouse – Bahia Nautical Museum
Housed in the Forte de Santo António da Barra, Brazil’s oldest military building (1534), this museum boasts a collection of archaeological finds, navigation instruments and other objects related to the sea. There is also a permanent exhibition on the geography, history, anthropology and culture of Baía de Todos os Santos. Built before the city itself, the lighthouse is a wonderful example of 16th Century Portuguese military architecture. www.museunauticodabahia.org.br
Sister Dulce Memorial
“Come and be moved by the story of Brazil’s good angel.” Involved in remarkable social causes, the story of one of Santo António’s great devotees is told in the convent where she spent her life. www.irmadulce.org.br
Jorge Amado Foundation
Located in the Pelourinho square, where many of the writer's stories take place. The author was also the author of the freedom of religion law that protects Candomblé. We immerse ourselves in the many titles of his work, the garb of the Academia de Letras, his typewriter and the shirts that demonstrated his love for the tropical country.
Casa Rio Vermelho — life and work of Jorge Amado and Zélia Gatai
Opened recently, for the fans of the writer it is very exciting to be able to wander through the garden where the ashes of the eternal Brazilian candidate for the Nobel Prize for Literature are buried. The aim is to help visitors get to know the man and the objects he collected on his travels throughout the world. Friends like Calazans Neto, Carybé, Verger and the ceramicist Udo Knoff also left their mark, whether on a tile, a door or a whale made of marbles. www.jorgeamado.org.br
10 — "Whoever comes to the shore"
Boasting a coastline of 50 kilometres, Salvador has beaches for all tastes. Following the maxim, “when in Bahia, do as Bahians do”, these beaches are for those in the know.
In 2007, The Guardian considered Praia do Porto Barra as one of the world’s three best beaches. It’s worth knowing that at weekends, the beach is invaded by folk from the interior, so if you want a quiet day, its best to go during the week.
In Amaralina you can find Bahian women selling acarajés. Beneath the coconut grove in Jardim de Alá, there are a number of masseuses selling outdoor “spas”. The best beach for swimming is Piata with its natural reef pools. Immortalised by the Vinicius song, the Itapuã beach boasts a certain wild feel during the week. At the weekend, much like the rest of the coast, it’s invaded by folk desperate for a tan. Surfing bods can enjoy the Aleluia, Stella Maris and Juaguaribe waves.
The island of Itaparica Pick up a schooner in the port of Salvador and travel to this island in the middle of the bay. We pass Forte de São Marcelo, which was built during the 17th Century and take a break on the Ilha dos Frades. After a refreshing dip, we climb up to the Igreja de Nossa senhora da Guadalupe, before travelling onto Itaparica. First a buffet in the mangroves and then we set off to discover the beauties of the island.
The most disconcerting of all is the Fonte da Bica fountain where, according to Neguinho Edson Jorge, the elixir of eternal youth gushes forth.
text Maria João Veloso / photos João Carlos