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22 July 2013 / leggypeggy

Walking tour takes in some sights of Salvador

Pelourinho, Salvador, Brazil

The streets of Pelourinho

Walking tours are a great way to get your bearings and an awareness of a new city, so we were keen to sign-up for the reasonably-price tour offered through the hostel in Salvador.

This tour would be around the cobbled streets of the old city, Pelourinho. This area, with its colourful colonial buildings and majestic churches, was derelict just 30 years ago. But Salvador set about cleaning it up for tourists and locals alike. It was a sensible move and has gained Pelourinho status as a UNESCO heritage site.

Salvador, Brazil

Luis explains the architecture of a church

The walking tour proved popular, with virtually everyone from the truck signing up to join in, along with a couple of other hostel residents.

About the time we got to our second destination, the heavens opened and the rain seemed to set in for the afternoon. Slowly the group dispersed and Luis, our local guide, offered to reschedule for Sunday, normally his day off.

So we set off again the next day in gloriously sunny weather, with umbrellas in hand just in case.

We made a circuit of the main churches and other important buildings and squares (walking tours usually don’t take you inside, but give you an overview of places to return to later), and learned some of Salvador’s history.

I’ll do separate posts with pictures on the interiors of the most important sites Poor John and I visited the previous day (we had umbrellas then too).

Lacerda, Salvador, Brazil

The Lacerda Elevator with the harbour below and the Mercado Modelo (yellow building with stalls out the front) on the lower right

But I’ll cover a few popular spots here.

In addition to a couple of important churches at the beginning of the tour, we saw some of Pelourinho’s flashy streets that look like they feel out of a paint store.

Luis explained that this part of the city is not for residential living, but for tourism. There are few flats (apartments) above the shops, plus there’s no parking and no day-to-day conveniences such as supermarkets and pharmacies. (The lack of residents is most obvious every morning when the streets of Pelourinho look like a deserted film set.)

He also told us that because of the UNESCO Heritage listing, that before making any changes to the exteriors of buildings, the owners have to get permission to use certain colour schemes—they also have to pay for the paint. 🙂

Pelourinho, Salvador, Brazil

The square no one likes

Luis also showed us an unpopular square with an amusing history. It should be a pretty square. It has three large fountains—but not one was operating.

‘Everyone hates this square’, said Luis, ‘and the government made a big mistake putting it here.  See how the wind blows? It’s like that all the time and when the fountains run, everyone gets wet, really wet.’

We also worked our way to the Lacerda Elevator. Much of Salvador and most of the old city are built on the sides of steep hills. Built in the 1930s, the Lacerda takes people down about six or seven stories to the waterfront and the Mercado Modelo, a vast shopping complex filled with lots of stalls selling you-name-it.

Along the way, we had a brief food stop. A couple of people bought acarajés and I bought a coconut concoction that gave me the biggest sugar hit of my life. It was a round disc, about 6 inches across, of pure sugar with a sprinkling of coconut. I shared it with everyone and we all agreed it was too much of a good thing. I promise to try to get a photo before we leave Brazil.

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  1. Ken Berry / Jul 24 2013 9:08 am

    By way of explanation, “Pelourinho” means “Pillory”. The main square once held a big pillory (post) where malefactors — mostly slaves — were tied and whipped. And the last time I visited Salvador in the late ’80s, it was indeed fairly decrepit, though decidedly still lived in by teeming throngs of poorer Brazilians. And still very colourful…


    • leggypeggy / Jul 24 2013 12:20 pm

      We figured Pelourinho had a slave history, although our guide didn’t mention it. He did say a lot of the denizens of the area in the 1980s were squatters. They were all relocated when the renovations were done.


  2. alberto / Aug 8 2013 12:34 pm


    Out of the sudden i remembered you gave me the link to your blog when we met on Salvador. Its so nice i found you :), your blog takes me back there. Im loving it!

    Say hi to the rest of the crew on my behalf, wish you all the best!

    Im Alberto, the Mexican guy with the arm-sleeve tattoo.

    Take care!


    • leggypeggy / Aug 9 2013 12:46 pm

      Hi Alberto, I’m so glad you stopped by the blog. Look forward to hearing from you again. I’ll say hi to everyone for you. 🙂


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