Praça Tomé de Souza, Salvador da Bahia
Praça Tomé de Souza (or Praça Municipal) is a lively square in the centre of Salvador with the Palácio Rio Branco (read my tip) and a new modern city hall.
There is a fantastic view from the square over the bay, Cidade Baixa, the port, the Mercado Modelo (former Custom House, now shopping centre), and the Forte de Nossa Senhora do Pópulo e São Marcelo.
You can see Forte de Nossa Senhora do Pópulo e São Marcelo at the right of my first photo. It was built during the government of Francisco Barreto (1657-1663) and was built in sandstone up to the waterline and the remaining in stonemasonry.
From Praça Tomé de Souza you can take the old elevator, Elevador Lacerda, to Cidade Baixa (the lower city). You can see the elevator at the left of my first photo. The elevator was opened in 1873 with two cabins and another two cabins was added in 1932. The trip is 72 metres and lasts 22 seconds.
Tome de Souza was the first governor general of colonial Brazil. He was sent by the Portuguese King with the intention to centralize authority. Sousa was joined by some 1000 settlers, including officials, soldiers, exiled prisoners. With his entourage also arrived priests and prostitutes. Outside the house where he governed his statue today remembers the early Portuguese days of Brazil.
Praca Municipal which is officially named Praca Tome de Souza was the political seat of the colonial Brazil for more than 200 years. Now it is a place to relax or enjoy the panoramic bay view below. The main parking lot of the Upper Town can also be found here, close to the Palacio Rio Branco and the elevator exit.
Rio Branco Palace, at Municipal Square
It used to be the government palace in times of Tome de Souza, but now it's a beautiful museum. Take a peek inside and ask the hosts to let you in the verandas - you'll have the best view of the bay!
Picture borrowed from Udo Müller's site
Palácio Rio Branco (formerly Casa dos Governadores) is located at the Praça Tomé de Souza and is one of the oldest palaces of Brazil. It was built in middle of the 16th century to be the headquarters of the government of Bahia.
On January 10, 1912, the palace was bombed by federal forces (regional trouble/independence plans) and the building was practically destroyed. Palácio Rio Branco was rebuilt in 1919, and the palace has been totally restored again in 1984.
I only enjoyed the beautiful palace from outside, and don’t know if it is open to public.
This square is very expansive and has some lovely touches, including a fountain, white church and capoeira dancers. Around this area lies the main tourist drag with lots of laid back cafes and bars and souvenir shops.
Praça Tomé de Souza, named after the founder of the city of Salvador (a statue in the centre of the square pays homage to him), or Praça Municipal, because of the institutional monuments that surround it: the Paço Municipal, the city's seat of power, and the Palácio Rio Branco, which housed the federal executive. It is up to you which name you choose to call it by, but there is only one way to get there: the Elevador Lacerda takes you up to the square, from where you can enjoy a view over the Cidade Alta and the bay.