Salvador da Bahia, former capital of Brazil, owes part of its fame to its music, architecture and its African-influenced cuisine. Known as the ‘capital of joy’ thanks to its exuberant carnival week, Salvador is plentiful in contemporary music and art, against the backdrop of architecture that remains unaltered since the 17th century.
In the historical quarter of Salvador da Bahia, Pelourinho, there is virtually a church at every corner, but if you can only visit one you have to see the Igreja de São Francisco. It is at the Praça José de Anchieta, nearly opposite the largest church, la Sé, at the end of Cruzeiro de São Francisco. Wealthy sugar merchants supported the erection of this religious establishment early in the 18th century. Altogether it took 66 years to complete it, from 1686 to 1752.
From the outside it is impressive (aside from a church it is a convent of the order of St. Francis of Assisi); the façade is decorated with yellow and blue tiles from Portugal that tell the story of the birth of St. Francis and how he relinquished earthly goods. The central nave and the transept form a cross. The decoration featuring stars, hexagons and octogons portray the Virgin Mary, known to Brazilians as Nossa Senhora (Our Lady). The sacristy features 18 oil paintings dedicated to various events in the life of St. Francis.
Aside from the tiles, this Baroque church built in the colonial style stands out for its three naves covered in gold leaf. Legend has it that between 700 and 1,000 kg of gold were used to decorate the interior. It also features jacaranda Wood in the choir and the alcatifa stone floor brought from Portugal. Behind the altar there is a modern sculpture (1930) inspired on a painting by Murillo (St. Francis embracing Jesus on the Cross) and a silver lamp stand from 1758.
I’m serious: when visiting this wonderful city it would be unforgivable for you to miss the great Igreja de São Francisco.
For recharging: after a long day walking through this beautiful city, the best way to recharge your batteries is to dine at one of the best places in Bahia: SENAC. This is a gastronomy school located in an old house in Pelourinho, where they serve an excellent buffet with around 40 dishes to choose from. You will love it!
“IBEROSTAR Hotels & Resorts has two 5-star All Inclusive vacation complexes in Salvador de Bahia: the hotel IBEROSTAR Praia Do Forte and the hotel IBEROSTAR Bahía. Both these hotels provide visitors with a perfect vacation in Brazil in a beautiful natural environment.”