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Trip to Salvador

Salvador, capital of the State of Bahia, is steeped in history: not only was it the first large city in Brazil, but also the capital of the Portuguese crown in the Americas from 1549 to 1763, and the most important port in the southern hemisphere until the 18th century.

Closely associated with Afro- Brazilian culture and reflecting a unique blend of European, African and Amerindian cultures, its attractions include a vibrant music scene, which gave birth to capoeira – a local mixture of dance and martial arts, delightful colonial architecture, delicious cuisine and wonderful local people (5). Because of its historic importance and features such as the cobblestone streets lined with 17th and 18th century palaces and Baroque churches in the area of Pelourinho, it was granted the UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. Pelourinho, the place where slaves used to be flogged publicly in the past, has become a mandatory site for tourism, culture and celebrations, housing a large number of Carnival groups, such as ‘Bloco Pierrot’.

While many of the best beaches on the stunning Bahian coastline lie within a couple of hours’ drive, the city itself also boasts Praia da Barra, recently voted one of best ten beaches in the world by The Guardian (2009).

Salvador is rhythm, flavours, street festivals and amazing vivacity. It is one of those rare places that have a special energy you feel from the moment you arrive. The locals call it axé, which means the vital power, or energy, of each being or thing. Closely associated with Afro-Brazilian culture, Salvador reflects a unique blend of European, African and Amerindian influences. It was the first capital of Brazil, from 1549 to 1763, and the centre of the sugar industry for many years. The city is the capital of Bahia state and one of Brazil’s cultural highlights. You are sure to see capoeira, an acrobatic art form somewhere between dance and martial art. Other attractions include a vibrant music scene, carnival celebrations and wonderful local people – such as the baianas, with their traditional all-white clothing. And as for Salvador’s sensational cuisine, based on traditional African ingredients such as palm oil and coconut milk, it alone will make your visit worthwhile.

The city is also a starting point for exploring the stunning Bahian coastline. Going 90km north you reach Praia do Forte, with its coconut trees, coral reefs, rivers and natural pools. It is an excellent spot for watersports and diving, and also has interesting old architecture such as the Capela de São Francisco de Assis.