Churches, Salvador da Bahia
Built by and for slaves between 1704 and 1796 to honour Our Lady of the Rosary of the Blacks, this church didn't receive due attention outside the local Afro-Brazilian community until long after it was built.
The church uses a mixture of themes, both African and Catholic. The blue and white facade is a mixture of baroque and rococo architecture with oriental-looking towers. After extensive renovation, it is worth a look at the side altars to see statues of the Catholic church's few black saints. One of the highlights of this church is the painting of the Passion with a black Chirst. African rhythms pervade the service.
It is open Mon-Fri 9:30am-6pm, Sat 9:30am-5pm, Sun 10am-noon.
Beautiful from the outside yes, but step inside and be sure to spend a good amount of time observing the ceiling of the room that you first enter.
It would be good if someone that works there helps you a bit, but the ceiling features a magical mural. Depending upon where in the room you are standing, images within the mural change- it's fascinating really.
Once you've paid to enter step out into the courtyard, if you're not totally awed by the beautiful blue and white porteguese tile work about you, something's wrong with you! :-)
Each panel (and there are several!) of the courtyard depicts tales of faith, death, friendship and 'the world' depending upon what exists just beyond that wall- the wall of faith has the church itself on the other side. the wall of death has the cemetery beyond it, the wall of friendship has the monkhood behind it and lastly the wall of the world has the streets of Pelourinho behind it.
OK, now.... go into the actual church and marvel at the mass quantities of gold EVERYwhere you look. This place is gilded to the hilt in high-baroque fashion. It practically glows gold. You'll just have to see for yourself...
Salvador’s cathedral is one of the must-see sights of Pelorinho. It was built in by Jesuits in 1672 (at the time it was the biggest Jesuit seminary outside Rome) and was restored in the 1990s. The impressive façade is built of a pale stone brought from Portugal and flanked by two short bell towers. It has three portals with statues of Jesuit saints: Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier and Francis Borgia.
If the exterior is imposing, the interior is rich and quite dramatic. The many ornate altars date from the late 16th through the mid-18th centuries, and are all carved from cedar and decorated with sculptures and paintings. In particular there are two very rare 16th century Renaissance altarpieces that belonged to an earlier Jesuit church here and were reused in this new building
The image of Christ the Saviour above the transept is the largest wood sculpture in Brazil. Like much of the carving in the church, it was likely the work of trained slaves. If you look carefully at some of the carvings in the cathedral you’ll see clues to this history: little symbols of the slaves’ Candomblé religion such as small fishtails, a tribute to Yemanjá, the goddess of the sea, rivers and lakes.
Admission is currently 2 Reais (about US$1))
We couldn’t take any photos inside so I’ve scanned some postcards which we bought there. I hope that won't be a problem - I'm including them so you can see how lovely it is and want to go there too :)
This church in the Pelourinho district caught our eye with its distinctive silver-roofed towers. It was built between 1708 and 1723, on the site of an earlier friary destroyed in fighting with the Dutch. The interior is rather dramatic, with almost all the surfaces – walls, pillars, vaults and ceilings – covered in sculptered and gilded woodwork. In all there are more than 100 kilograms of gold plastering the surfaces. This decoration is considered one of the most complete and imposing in Portuguese-Brazilian Baroque gilt woodwork art (talha dourada), being a perfect example of a so-called "golden church" (igreja dourada).
You can also visit the two-storey cloisters, which date from around 1752 and are decorated with monumental panels of blue-white tile (azulejo) panels (see photo 2). The tiles, depicting allegories based on 17th century-Flemish engravings and sayings by Roman poet Horace, were manufactured in Lisbon. The admission fee is currently 3 Reais (about US$1.70).
We couldn’t take any photos inside, so the picture of the interior is a scanned postcard - as with the cathedral, I'm including it to encourage visits to this beautiful church.
The Terreiro de Jesus, officially called Praca 15 de Novembro is a historic site of religious celebrations with four churches surrounding the square. Besides churches the square is flanked by shops and street cafes and a large fountain centers the square.
Just how much money did these guys make? The sugar barons of the early 1700s were apparently just showing off when they decided to announce to the world that their small colony had officially arrived by building the Igreja de Sao Francisco. They completed the church in 1723 and when it was done, they had used over 100kg of gold.
I've seen it called other names, but this is what it said on the map I picked up in Salvador. It might also be referred to as simply Sacramento da Rua Passo. As I was walking up Ladeira do Carmo in the wrong direction from Pelourinho, I noticed these stairs leading up to Rua Passo above and this church.
When I reached the top of Ladeira do Carmo, I walked to the left to this church which is only a few meters down the road, but it wasn't open to visitors. Then I went to the right at the top of Ladeira do Carmo and walked to the end of that street in an area that seemed much more typical and less touristy. There were a couple pension style accommodations, but otherwise, most of the buildings were simple and sometimes dilapidated one-storey homes. The few people that I saw seemed a little surprised to see me there . . . I wonder if I looked like a tourist?
Literally translated as Our Lady of the Rosary of the Blacks, this church was built during the 18th century by and for the slaves of Salvador. Even to this day, the congregation is largely of African descent and during services drums are used more than the organ. You'll also notice famous paintings such as the passion of Christ depicted with black characters.
The slick L shape Praca da Se has got fenced of ruins of the foundations of its namesake church and musical fountain. One the square a number of arts performances take place, and one can find Michael Jackson look-alike, break dancers and other street performers attracting both locals and foreigners.
Defying the teachings and vows of poverty of the saint to which this church is dedicated the baroque church is crammed with displays of opulent wealth and splendor. An 80 kg silver chandelier dangles over ornate wood carvings with gold leafs and the convent courtyard is paneled with hand painted Portuguese tiles. The complex was opened in 1723.
This church was been created from 1704 and was almost completely built at night, since it was the church of the salves and had to be built during their spare time. Hence it took almost 100 years to complete the church. It has a rococo facade and a beautiful interior.
Due to its origins the church may not be as glamorous as other churches in Salvador, however it is still beautiful and even more impressive if one imagines that most of this work was done at night. A beautiful altar, incredible art work of the ceiling and carvings can be found in the interior of the church.
This is another beautiful square in Salvador, surrounded by the most important houses and public buildings, since the square is on the highest point of the hilly quarter. The cross is named after the church that is right behind the square.
Religion at Salvador da Bahia is a palpable presence. There are a lot of catholic churchs, but is candomblé, the african-brazilian religion, which rules. This religion was brought by African slaves; catholic conquerors tried to eliminate it, but could not do it; there is a syncretism between both religions.
There are some popular rituals, like celebration of Senhor do Bonfim, or Iemanjá (sea godess).
La religión en Salvador de Bahia es una presencia palpable. Hay muchísimas iglesias católicas, pero es el candomblém la religión afro-brasileña, la que predomina. Esta religión fue traída por los esclavos africanos; los conquistadores católicos trataron de eliminarla, pero no lo lograron; se da un sincretismo entre ambas religiones.
Hay varios ritos populares, como la fiesta del Senhor do Bomfim, o la de Iemanjá, la diosa del mar.
Igreja de Sao Francisco - Saint Francis Church
If the legend that says Salvador 365 churches is true, Sao Francisco is in my opinion the most beautiful of them. Not because of its rich golden interior or the amazing effect obtained by the sculptors who were able to make the saints' eyes shine... but specially because its facade (blue and yellow tiles!) and its dellusioning ceiling on the secondary entrance. The picture is of the churche's internal garden, where you can see one of the biggest collection of portuguese tiles recently reformed.