• Registration Year


  • Registered Sector

    Historic Centre of Salvador de Bahia

  • Historical Function

    Trade, defense and capital of the portuguese colony.

  • Administrative Status

    Capital of the State of Bahia.

Location and site

The costal city of Salvador de Bahia, located in the Brazilian Nordeste, occupies the end of a hilly peninsula that juts out between the harbour bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

Urban Morphology

Salvador de Bahia follows the edge of the bay. The escarpment that separates its upper city and its lower city, can be mounted by elevator or climbed on foot. The city, which was laid out according to an orthogonal plan at the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century, adapts to its topography. The inclined triangular open space that is known as the Pelourinho is the meeting place of several streets that follow the cliff. Situated on either side of the escarpment, the central squares of the upper and lower cities are close together.

The historic centre focuses on the Pelourihno. A retaining wall in the shape of large arches, which now house boutiques, follows the cliff. The upper city, which contains the public buildings, residences and gardens, is better preserved than the lower city, which houses activities related to the port and commerce, as well as religious buildings, some of which are embellished with Baroque sculpture of the 17th and 18th centuries, and narrow multi-coloured stucco dwellings dating to the colonial period. The ensemble is characterised by the density of its monuments and the coherence of its plan.

Registration Criteria

"Salvador is an eminent example of Renaissance urban structuring adapted to a colonial site having an upper city of a defensive, administrative and residential nature which overlooks the lower city where commercial activities revolve around the port [...]." (IV) Salvador is one of the major points of convergence of European, African and American Indian cultures of the 16th to 18th century. Its founding and historic role [...] quite naturally associate it with the theme of the discovery of the universe [...]." (VI)

Historical Reference

  • Salvador de Bahia developed on the cliff that surrounds the Church of the Ajuda, which was constructed by the Jesuits in 1549. From the time of its foundation, the city has served as the seat of the royal administration of Brazil and, starting in 1551, the Bishop's Palace.
  • In 1558, the first group of African slaves arrived to work on the sugar cane plantations. Until the mid-18th century, the port of Salvador de Bahia - on the triangular trade route between Africa, Brazil and Europe - was the leading centre in Portuguese trade. Many European immigrants settled in the city.
  • In the 17th century, when Portugal was still under Spanish domination, Salvador de Bahia was repeatedly attacked by the Dutch, and a number of fortresses were built to defend the city. During the same period, it served, along with other coastal cities such as Olinda, as the point of departure for mining expeditions in the Brazilian interior.
  • In 1625, the Province of Bahia was once again under Portuguese rule. Its development was centred around two nodes: the upper city and the lower city. When the capital was relocated to Rio de Janiero in 1763, the gold rush was at its peak in the Minas Gerais.
Dr. Antonio Carlos Peixoto de Magalhaes
Prefeitura Municipal do Salvador de Bahia
Praça Municipal, S/Nº - Centro Palácio Thomé De Souza
Salvador de Bahia, BA, Brazil
CEP: 40020-010
+55.(71) 2201-6144/ 6113/ 6102
+55.(71) 2201-6221