Salvador, the capital of the state of Bahia, is a city in the Northeast of Brazil which has many contrasts. The old and the new, the past and the present, the charm of the old world and the modern aspects. The culture of Bahia combines both respect for past traditions and the search for the future.
Founded by the Portuguese in 1549, Salvador was the first capital of Brazil until 1763. Many aspects of Portuguese culture can still be seen around the city. Beautiful baroque churches and unspoiled colonial mansions – with the traditional Portuguese blue and white Azulejo tiles – remain as reminders of a rich past.
However, the Portuguese introduced more than architecture, language, and customs. They also brought African slaves. Salvador became an important center for the infamous slave trade, and thus the rich African culture merged with the Portuguese and the existing indigenous cultures.
Candomblé and capoeira are two great African contributions to the culture of Bahia. Capoeira, a dance developed with traditional fighting techniques introduced by Angolan slaves, is practiced everywhere. The sound of drums, tambourines, and berimbau become increasingly stronger as the dance and combat grow faster until everything becomes a spinning image. Capoeira is now a popular form of sport in Bahia.
Salvador is a city of many rhythms. Festivals abound throughout the year reflect the love of the Bahian people for singing, dancing, and merrymaking. Salvador is a unique city in Brazil. The mixture of Portuguese, African, and indigenous cultures has produced a richly exotic culture.
Experience the city, enjoy the people, and you will understand why the people of Bahia are so proud of their culture, both from the past and the present.