More Than Models and Beaches: Your Travel Guide to Bahia, Brazil

September 17, 2012  |  

You Need to Go: Pelourinho

Every building and stone has a story in this monument-rich quarter of Bahia’s capital city Salvador where Brazil’s history of colonialism, slavery and independence converge. In the same square where enslaved Africans were displayed for amusement and punished for the slightest  infraction—the black stones on the ground were once nicknamed “black heads” as an insult to the Africans — stands Brazil’s first medical school The Faculdade de Medicina which houses several museums including the Afro-Brazilian Museum. Pelourinho’s Terreiro de Jesus Square was also an important site in Brazil’s independence movement from the Portuguese. Today, Pelourinho ia s designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A popular tourist stop punctuated by women dressed in costumes uncomfortably reminiscent of Scarlett O’Hara’s Mammy acting as guides and hard-bodied practitioners of capoeira, the square remains a trove of museums, shops, restaurant, bars and churches. Get your fill then move beyond it to the peripheral network of streets to check out the Jorge Amado Foundation museum, take in the open mic at Sankofa African Bar and Restaurant, try the escondidinho at Dada’s Restaurant, or catch a dance performance by the Balé Folklórico.

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