SalvadorThe city of Sao Salvador da Baía de Todos os Santos was founded in 1549. But since the first years of the XVI century, after the Portuguese discovered new lands, the place where the urban area was later erected had been known already. It called the attention of sailors in that bay that the place was so favorable for the anchorage of ships.
In that same year, Salvador became the first capital of Brazil until 1763, when the colonial administration was moved to Rio de Janeiro. During that period, the city played an important strategic role in the defense and colonization of the territory. That is why the Portuguese tried to erect a fortified city on top a hill.
The construction of the new metropolis followed well-defined plans that may be recognized in the urban space that nowadays is occupied by the Historical Center -main public and religious buildings were protected in the higher part of the city. Even though, Salvador underwent the Dutch occupation for some months in 1624. A new attack of the same Dutch in 1638 was not successful. Invaders were repelled immediately.
The Salvadorian population (in Portuguese, Soteropolitena, adapted from the Greek soteropolis, "city of salvation", according to Aurélio dictionary) is formed by the same mixture of ethnic groups that mark the base of the Brazilian people -Blacks, Indians and Europeans. In Salvador, the biggest port for entering slaves brought from Africa since the middle of the XVI century, the African cultural influence always prevailed. It is noticeable in religion, arts, food, and in many other aspects of the life of Salvadorian people.
Religious syncretism is mainly expressed in candomblé (Brazilian voodoo), which mixed rites brought from Africa by slaves with Catholicism. Churches in Salvador receive followers of candomblé, like in Nossa Senhora do Bonfim, where every year women from Bahia dressed in typical costumes and do the cleaning of the steps. In candomblé grounds with ceremonies open to the public, it is possible to help babalorixás, ialorixás and iaôsto (fathers, mothers and daughters of the saints) invoking, by means of dances and singing, orixás, entities that personify the forces of nature. Other symbol of the African culture in Salvador is capoeira. Original from Angola, it was used by slaves as a form of defense and attack. Nowadays is a very popular combination of fight and dance. Capoeira members swing from side to side and hit acrobatic blows using mainly their legs. Meanwhile, the other members surround them in a circle and sing accompanied by percussion instruments like berimbau, agogôs and atabaques.
Walking along the Historical Center, especially through old alleys and squares of Pelourinho neighborhood, is to observe constructions of the XVIII and XIX centuries: old big houses formerly belonging to sugar barons, beautiful baroque churches and majestic public buildings that serve as stage for the people who preserve its cultural roots and take them to the streets, sharing them with visitors. Capoeira, acarajé, patuá, candomblé, atabaque, moqueca, bobó and berimbau are some of the words that manifest the cultural riches of Salvador and that may be better understood by simply answering a question that is part of a song by one of Brazil's greatest composers, Dorival Caymmi: "have you been to Bahia yet?"
And it is also on the streets that Salvadorians make their parties. Salvador lives every year an intense calendar of popular events. Mostly in the period between New Year's Eve and Carnival, the city becomes venue of great celebrations, which reveal the deep religious feeling and happiness of its inhabitants.
Salvador has its cosmopolitan side. One of the most sought-for Brazilian destinations by tourists from all regions in Brazil and abroad, the city receives visitors with a diversified network of accommodations that is constantly modernizing. It is possible to opt between high-quality hotels and charming posadas set up in historical old houses. And together with its restaurants and street-stands that serve delicious regional delicacies, the visitor finds places of superior international gastronomy -French, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, among others.  Besides a modern airport, the city has infrastructure for events and conventions.


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