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Cidade Baixa (the Lower City)
Cidade Baixa is part of the city at the foot of the bluff. The most easy way to get from Cidade Alta is by Elevadora Lacerda. This historic district was made up of the port of Salvador and adjoining warehouses and business. There's little of interest for tourist here. Most of the original structures have been demolished and replaced with private and government office buildings from the early 20th century.
However, it's not completely without interest. You are likely at least to pass through to get to the Terminal Maritimo, where you can catch a boat to one of the islands in the bay. And there is one essential stop, Mercado Modelo, offering seemingly endless choice of regional arts and crafts. Cidade Baixa extends westward to the area known as Bonfim, a neighbourhood famous for its Afro-Brazilian festival and home to the famous Igreja do Bonfim. If you go on little further, you soon come to Ribeira.
- Historical Travel
Salvador is a city of two halves, divided into the Cidade Alta ("Upper Town") and the Cidade Baixa ("Lower Town") by an escarpment some 85m (275ft) high. The easiest way to travel between the two is to take the elevator known as Elevador Lacerda, which was built in 1873 (the first to be installed in Brazil) and, fortunately, been restored several times over the years.
The Cidade Baixa is Bahia's commercial and financial centre and port. It is busy and safe during working days, but largely deserted and considered unsafe at night. We spent most of our time in the Upper Town but one morning took the elevator down (it costs just a few cents) to explore the area at its foot. Emerging from it the first thing we saw was a large covered market, the Mercado Modelo, which is a major shopping point for locals and tourists alike, with everyday food stuffs and delicious-looking seafood alongside craft and folk art pieces such as musical instruments, masks and carvings.
At the far end of the market we emerged onto a street facing the water, where young boys were practicing capoeira outside a small café and collecting plenty of tourist tips for their trouble. We were happy to sit here for a while, enjoying the show while we relaxed with a cold drink – well worth the few coins we paid them for their efforts.
There was also a stand selling the traditional berimbau, a percussion instrument consisting of a wooden bow about 4 to 5 feet long (1.2 to 1.5 m), with a steel string, and a hollowed-out gourd attached to the lower portion of the bow as a resonator. These instruments are an integral part of capoeira.
Museu da Cidade
I rushed through this museum mostly because I wasn't that impressed. None of the signage was in English, but I don't hold that against the place (when's the last time you saw Portuguese signage in an American museum?). The artifacts are mostly old photos and artifacts that display the African roots of the people of Salvador, but it doesn't seem like the museum curators have done a great job in creating an especially interesting or inspiring atmosphere.
Palacio Rio Branco
I was told that this is now a museum, but it once was a government palace. It sits high above the lower town in the Praça Tomé de Souza, which also contains the City Hall of Salvador. The Rio Branco Palace is definitely the most architecturally interesting building in the square. You'll also find the Elevator Lacerda which gracefully drops you down to the lower town and gives you great views over the Bay of All Saints below.
Below the upper town of Pelourinho, you'll find . . . yep, you guessed it . . . the lower town, also known as Cidade Baixa. Other than stopping in a bank and walking down some shopping streets, the only thing I saw here was the Mercado Modelo (more on that in Shopping tips). I came down via the tram (Plano Inclinado) as opposed to the Elevator Lacerda and right at the bottom of the tram, you'll find plenty of shopping streets and this square. But if you're coming down specifically to visit the Mercado Modelo use the elevator, since it will drop you right across the street from the market (head to Palacio Rio Branco to find the elevator).
Plano Inclinado Goncalves
The second possibility to reach the upper town from the lower town is by funicular railway. The railway opened in 1874 and rolls 30 passenger cards between the Cidade Alta and Cidade Baixa on terrifyingly steep tracks. It also costs R$ 0.05 and operates between 7 am and 7 pm from Monday to Friday and only on Saturday morning.
- Historical Travel
View to the lower town
From Cidade Alta one enjoys a great view of the city below. In the newer town one can mainly find banks, insurances and other administrative buildings. Being the third largest city in Brazil it can get very busy and the roads during the day time are generally packed with traffic.
- Arts and Culture
Much more than Pelourinho...
The autumm´s coming in Salvador...but it´s the perfect time for fun there & away.
In the "Cidade Baixa" ( the rocky coast of the city) hotels are cheapest than in the beach side...No sand, but it´s not a problem...every hotel has a teleferic cabine that give you till a private dock where you can join hammocks, umbrellas, snorkel on cristal clean waters & (of course ) caipirinhas...At nights, only 200 meters ago of Mercado Modelo ( sea side ) you´ve got an small Yactch Club with two of the betters restaurants " Soho " -Japanese- and "Josfina" -rest+danceclub- both with an incredible quality on the kitchen & incredible low price, too.
Visit Candeal favela, where Carlinhos Brown project changed the face to a complete neighborhood.
If got enough days, north coast ( Praia do Forte & Imbassai ) or Morro do Sao Paulo ( cuarta praia ) are paradise on earth.
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