Mercado Modelo is a Salvador's largest market and one of Salvador's landmarks. An old covered market with the best selection of the artesanato in the city, is set on its own by the old harbour, across the road from the foot of Elevador Lacerda. It was built in 1861 and originally used as the customs house for shipments coming into port. In 1971 the building was converted into the present-day Mercado and in 1984 quickly rebuilt after the fire.
It functions again as a centre of Bahian arts and crafts with more than 250 stalls. Here you'll find capoeira trousers, Bahian traditional clothing, lacework, jewelry, wood carving, trinkets, musical instruments and CDs, souvenirs and much more. Prices here are about the same as in Pelourinho, but don't be afraid to bargain, especially for jewelry and handicrafts. Some of the nicest souvenirs are the painted statues of candomble deities - look for the sign "antigos religiosos".
In the square in front of the market you'll find more arts and crafts stalls with a host of hippie-style items and occasional capoeira demonstrations and live music. Even if you don't buy anything, Mercado is a very enjoyable place to visit. There is always something going on in and around the market and it's always crowded with Bahians and tourists. In the back is the covered patio area, where you can relax and have lunch or a cold drink. You find a Banco do Brasil ATM machine and an information ofice to the left of the front entrance, and upstairs there are a couple of good restaurants.
It is open Mon-Sat 9am-7pm, Sun 9am-2pm.
It is not the cheapest place to buy handcrafts in Salvador - but you have to negotiate else you will get ripped off. Besides wood works and other handcrafts one can also by cachaca, cashew nuts, pepper, cigars, dried shrimp, leather goods and other items.
On the outside you have regional folk singers and boys practice capoeira. Taking pictures of the boys make sure you negotiate a rate first!
The Mercado Modelo is tourist trap and highlight at the same time. It used to the the old customs house, and after a fire it was renovated and became the handcraft market. It is enclosed with some stalls being on the outside and is open every day - Sunday afternoons some of the stalls are closed.
Close to the Mercado Modelo one can find a huge modern sculpture which is affectionately called "bunda" or butt by the locals.
Upper and lowe town are connected via a cliff side elevator. Get the elevator and have a look at modelo mercado for lots of bahian souvenirs.
You must hit the market. Loads of stuff for sale -- yes, alot for tourists. Don't forget to barter for a great deal....there are definately some to be had.