>>>The multicolour neighbourhood

The multicolour neighbourhood

In Pelourinho it doesn’t matter if its Carnival time or not: colour, music and dance flood its streets every day of the year.

This neighbourhood in Salvador de Bahia retains the charm of its Portuguese colonial architecture. Located in what used to be the capital of Brazil for three centuries, it suffered a terrible decline and became an insignificant area. However this abandonment forced the area to preserve its true essence, for which it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985. Since then, it has undergone a significant restructuring where vibrant colours can be seen everywhere by painting the facades of Renaissance buildings blue, sky blue, yellow and salmon. The result? The most colourful neighbourhood in Brazil.

Wearing colours

If you visit the old district, it’s inevitable that you’ll end up wearing some ‘fitas’ (coloured ribbons) tied to your wrist. As well as a souvenir, it’s also an amulet: if after tying it you make three wishes and then untie it and take if to the Church of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim, they will come true.

Although nowadays Pelourinho is synonymous with happiness, a much darker past is hidden behind its coloured facades. Its name includes the ghosts of the past, because ‘Pelourinho’ refers to the post where slaves who arrived in Brazil were whipped. This African heritage can be felt everywhere: In its culture, religion, music and in its people. Bahian women and their traditional dresses make this picturesque place one of the most exotic neighbourhoods in Bahia.
The area is the setting for an array of great architectural jewels. The Cathedral Basilica, the House of the Jorge Amado Foundation (winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature) and Nossa Senhora do Rosario dos Pretos (Our Lady of the Rosary of Black People), built by and made for slaves, are just some of them. If there is one to mention in particular, it’s the Church of San Francisco: as well as its traditional Portuguese façade and ceiling, its chapel is plated in gold. It’s said that no fewer than 100 kilos of gold were used to decorate the temple.

Pierre Verger’s lens

Many have discovered Brazil through the subject matter of this Parisian photographer. He ended his days in Salvador de Bahía, the city that he fell in love with in 1946 and that he knew how to portray and convey the essence of in his photographs. You can visit his gallery at Portal da Misericordia 9.

In Pelourinho everything has a rhythm, including the city’s symbolic feature: the Lacerda public lift, which connects the Lower City with the Upper City. This is composed of four lifts that ascend 72 metres in less than 30 seconds and from where you can see Baía de Todos os Santos, where Américo Vespucio arrived in 1501, thereby beginning the Portuguese colonial period. Descending the Lacerda lift and walking towards the coast you can see one of the finest sunsets in Brazil: the sun hides behind Baía de Todos os Santos with the Faro da Barra lighthouse as the backdrop. This lighthouse is used today as a nautical museum and is also host to ‘capoeira’, a Brazilian martial art with African influences that fuses dancing with fighting and, especially, performance.
And if it’s lively during the day, it’s even more so once night falls. In Pelourinho the moon arrives dancing to the beat of dozens of drums. Apart from Mondays, ‘batucada’ samba groups take over the historical centre of Salvador de Bahía and turns it into an improvised stage: The Terreiro de Jesus plaza and Largo do Pelourinho plaza share percussion, dance and capoeira until late into the night. As the song says “The Bahian has God in his heart and the devil in his hips”.

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