JUL 2006 (V): Historic Center in Salvador (BA)
Experiences of a Dutchman living in Belo Horizonte, since December 2004, from month to month.
July 2006, part five: Pieces of history in Salvador de Bahia: Mercado Modelo and Pelourinho.
Our stay in Salvador was not restricted to visits to the beaches only. We also visited the interesting center of Salvador, which is called Pelourinho. The center of Pelourinho consists of a giant square that is surrounded by historic buildings and churches. Not one church, but three. Unfortunately, these churches were closed for visitors at the time of our visits. But when possible, we absorbed the history and the richness of the decorations inside these churches. At one night, we attended a mass in the church of Nossa Senhora dos Pretos, a church that was built by the hands of (former) slaves. The church was overcrowded, we had to stay at the main entrance. During this mass, the priest gave his blessings, baskets with fresh bread were distributed among the worshipers. You have to tear this bread into smaller pieces and hand them to your neighbors. The worshipers also hugged each other. Salvador is widely known for its remarkable elevator, the Lacerda Elevador. Such an elevator is also found in Lisbon, Portugal. The elevator carries you about sixty meters higher, from Mercado Modelo to Pelourinho. At the Mercado you can buy your souvenirs, local handicraft, from wooden carvings to leather shoes, from embroidery to original music instruments. I was amazed by the diversity of those products. I was also amazed by the macabre view of the slave cellar under the Mercado. This by dim light illuminated space was used as the ‘storage room’ for the slaves who had arrived from Africa. These poor bastards stayed there under extremely miserable conditions. At that time, seawater entered the moist cellar at high tide, and rats had their territories. You do not need much fantasy to create such an imagination.
By Dr. Adriano Antoine Robbesom
Original text in Dutch, translation with help of Google Translator