In addition to being one of the oldest cities in the New World, Salvador was also the first Colonial capital of Brazil. Salvador, also called the “Capital of Happiness,” is well-known for its beautiful buildings, exciting outdoor celebrations, and friendly, laid-back locals.
Reasons for Salvador’s striking contrast to other Brazilian cities can be found in the city’s past. Founded by Brazil’s first Colonial governor in the middle of the sixteenth century, the city sits on an escarpment that separates the High City, where most of the residences and government buildings are located, from the Low City, where you’ll find forts, docks, markets, and warehouses. The 18th century was when the city’s golden days as the political, economic, and administrative center of the expanding Portuguese colony really began to shine. Some additional hints can be gleaned from the city’s location: it was built on one of the safest natural harbors in the enormous All Saints Bay, an important trade route connecting Europe and the New World. The melting pot of African, European, and indigenous cultures that resulted is what really matters here.
As a result of being exposed to so many different ways of life, locals here have developed a culture that is unlike any other in Brazil. This is where the samba, Brazil’s national dance, and the breezy Bossa Nova music genres got their starts. The moqueca, a seafood gumbo, is just one example of Bahian cuisine’s diversity; it’s hard to find a regional cuisine with as much variety as Bahian cooking. In addition, the city’s four parks—including one of the few ecological parks in Brazil’s urban areas—and breathtaking ocean vistas are sure to please nature lovers. The city’s All Saints Bay address provides access to excellent beaches and the longest coastline of any city in Brazil, while the recently renovated Historic Center, also known as the Pelhourino, offers shopping and sightseeing galore.
Salvador and the Bahia region can be visited at any time of year. However, if you don’t fancy rain and high humidity, avoid the period between April and June, which is the wettest.
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