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Bahia: Salvador and Itaparica Island

Bairro de Barra no Salvador da Bahia
Pelourinho, Salvador da Bahia
View on old town Pelourinho, Salvador da Bahia

Salvador de Bahia is a great example of Renaissance Urban Town planning, adapted to the colonial origin. Most interesting part of Salvador, tourists wise, is Pelourinho. The old upper city overlooks the lower city where commercial activities revolve around the port. Here is where colonial Salvador started to evolve. The density of monuments makes it the colonial city par excellence in the Brazilian Northeast.

Salvador was the first historic capital of Brazil since Governor General, Thome de Souza, made it the seat of the royal administration in 1549 in the orders of João II of Portugal. It played a leading economic and political role until 1763 when the seat of administration was transferred to Rio de Janeiro.

Salvador is built against a vast bay, named ‘the Bay of All Saints’, with 1,100 square kilometers the largest in Brazil, and upon a ridge parallel to the Atlantic coast, to make defense possible, such as against Spanish (1580) and Dutch attacks (1624). Amerigo Vespucci discovered the bay in 1502. The north and lower city with the port lost their pristine character due to population growth, which has been particularly fast since 1966, owed to industrial developments in the region.  As result is the historic city enclosed by a very dense urban zone. The historical center itself, which revolves around the Pelourinho quarter, is characterized by its fidelity to the 16th-century architectural plan, the density of its monuments, and the homogeneity of its construction on a hilly site.  The urban scenery is embellished by steeply falling and ascending views of incomparable beauty. Pelourinho is characteristic for the colonial city. Its many streets lined with bright multicolored houses, often decorated with high-quality stucco are a very special experience for lovers of postcolonial culture.

 

Salvador Itaparica Island

The beaches of Itaparica island
Sandy beach somewhere Itaparica

What one sees on the other side of the bay is the island of Itaparica. It is the largest of the 56 islands in the bay. There are two ways to get there easy. The ferryboat or the small boat (Pequena lancha). The pequena lancha is a pretty way unless you want to take a car with you.

Transportation on the island is available in the form of kombis, probably a word of German origin, usually Volkswagen Vans which tend to cluster at disembarkation points. They stop anywhere along their routes to drop off or pick up anyone. There are also various quality levels of big buses, running from Bom Despacho, the island’s landing point for the big ferry-boat. Buses in Brazil offer a comfortable way of traveling, such as the VIP buses, used for long-distance travel. A very cost friendly and enjoyable possibility to cover distances.

 

Itaparica Condo Enseada Beach
Tranquil

The beauty of Itaparica island

Well-known Brazilian writer João Ubaldo Ribeiro considered the island as “heaven on earth”. It has a wild beauty, a never-ending beach, calm sea, natural swimming-pools, mangroves, two small towns, being Itapariac and Vera Cruz, several pretty villages and everything set in lush nature. Both Itaparica town and Vera Cruz have a view on Salvador across the bay. The village of Aratuba is a pretty fishermen’s place on the Atlantic facing side of the island with beautiful sandy beaches. You can have a walk by the seaside, a good sunbath on the beach, with a swim on intervals, sipping a cool drink and waiting for the magnificent moon rising. Or you can have a tasty “moqueca” a well-known fish dish because the island is famous for its fish and seafood, take a restful nap on the hammock or simply be in love and profit the best of life.

 

Island food

Plenty of fish menus on Itaparica Island
Fish is the main ingredient

Mentioned already is the tasty “moqueca” but also worth mentioning are the seafood soups called “caldos”. In case you aren’t a lover of these Brazilian specialties, you can always find an alternative dish nearby on the island, because many foreigners found their way to Itaparica island, bought their home in tropical surrounding and discovered that mixing with the island inhabitants is just one of these pleasant things in life.

From the moment of its discovery by Americus Vespucius, the Bay of all Saints has proofed to be an exceptionally attractive place on the Brazilian coast. On one side of the bay Salvador has developed its rich cultural blend within awesome colonial architecture and on the other side offers Itaparica the tranquillity of an island in lush nature, with peace and quietness to unwind in manners always appreciated since mankind exists. No wonder why so many people like to have their place under the sun on the Itaparica island.

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