Salvador is a flourishing Brazilian city located in the northeast, containing the third-largest population in the country with six million residents. Originally, it was the first urban center where the Portuguese settled during the 16th century, and stood as the very first capital of Brazil. Today, it lies within the Bahai state, whose mix of Portuguese, African descendants and Indigenous people has made this area famous for its cultural richness.
The arena of Estadio Octavio Mangabeira will host six games at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. It is a new, all-purpose stadium that seats 52,048 spectators. Soccer fans, brace yourself for this impressive structure.
Best Things to Do and See
Sao Francisco Church and Convent
Located in the historical city, the church's walls are decorated with gold, silver and precious stones, while the art on the ceiling has been likened to that of the Sistine Chapel. It was built in 1723 and exemplifies the extravagant ornamentation of the Baroque period. Everything from the ceiling to the altar glimmers with gold - it's estimated that 960 kilograms of golf leaf were used in its construction. This Catholic church makes a gorgeous trip for visitors looking for a jaw-dropping blend of history, religion and art. Connected is the convent, which, though boasting more treasures, is closed to visitors.
Hang out and relax on Frades Island, a delightful isle across the bay from Salvador. Stretching approximately 2.5 acres and in the shape of a five-point star, the island features delightful waterfalls, white sand beaches, mountains and Atlantic vegetation. It is a small fishing village with few inhabitants, so expect generally calm beaches and an afternoon of unwinding. The waters are clear - you can see up to 11 feet deep, making it perfect for snorkeling and swimming. There is also a fascinating historical heritage that includes the Nossa Senhora de Loreta Church, sitting on the southern part of the island. You can access Frades by schooners or sail boats from Salvador.
The Afro-Brazilian Museum showcases wood carvings, pottery and a variety of other artwork that reflect the bridge between African and Brazilian artistic traditions. One of the favorites is the exhibit that examines the Candomble religion, which probes the role of God in community. In the back room, you'll discover 27 giant carved wood panels - the work of Carybe, who is perhaps the most acclaimed 20th century artist from Salvador. You might also want to check out the photography exhibit and sacred objects.
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Pelourinho boasts pastel-colored Colonial buildings that date back to the 17th and 18th century. Here you'll encounter the city's oldest architecture and magnificent churches. When walking along the streets, you may hear the music coming from capoeira - a Brazilian martial art that combines dance, music and acrobatics - that takes place inside these buildings.
Though officially known as the Octavio Mangabeira, Salvador's stadium is more commonly referred to as the Fonte Nova, which was constructed in 2010. Interestingly, it is built on the same grounds as the former pitch, also called Fonte Nova. Currently, it offers a panoramic restaurant, shops and museum of football. The new pitch will host four group matches, three of them featuring top-seeded teams, a round-of-16 match and a quarter-final tie.
Eating and Nightlife
Vegetarians and carnivores alike rave about Soho, a Japanese sushi bar located along the Bay of All Saints in the marina area. It's an upscale restaurant that serves modern and innovative combinations - including sashimi and sushi - not to mention the wonderful views of the beach from the terrace. If you're looking for a locale to take a night-stroll, grab a bite to eat and wander until your heart's content.
Indulge in an authentic taste of Bahian food at Restaurante do SENAC. With its buffet style, this is a perfect place to take the family for lunch. You can try a variety of moquecas with a different seafood ingredients. Let it be known, the stewed oxtail is a hit.
The laid-back party continues at Barravento, a stylish waterfront bar and restaurant. If you're looking for a lengthy cocktail list, this is your place. There's adequate seating and it's open late.
When the FIFA match of the day is over, the night has just begun. The party rockin' visitors hit up the Aeroclube Plaza, an outdoor entertainment complex with dance clubs, eight bars and free live forro inside.
Music lovers flock to Jam no MAM, which hosts Saturday-evening jazz and bossa nova. Go early to catch the sunset and get a good spot for the grooves. Although it is located within walking from the Peolourinho, it is suggested that you take a taxi.