Recìncavo BaianoIn the area around the Baía de Todos os Santos, known as the Recìncavo Baiano, are many little townships whose buildings have shown little change since colonial times. To many of them the sugar-cane grown on the fertile clay soils brought prosperity; from others the cattle-drovers set out to seek fresh grazing for their herds in the sertão. Nowadays oil derricks rear up amid the sugar-cane plantations.
In Candeias (pop. 70,000), 50km/30mi north of Salvador, is the Museu Vanderlei de Pinho (or Museu do Recìncavo), which illustrates the social, cultural and economic characteristics of the towns and villages in this region. The Museum is housed in the Engenho Freguesia, a magnificent four-story 18th century mansion with a large chapel on the road to Feira de Santana.
Sao Francisco do Conde, Brazil
The little town of São Francisco do Conde (pop. 25,000), north-west of Candeias and 70km/43mi from Salvador, can be reached on BR 324. Among its colonial buildings are the church of Santo Antônio, the 18th century friary of São Francisco, with Portuguese azulejo pictures, the Paço Municipal (formerly the town hall and gaol) and a number of houses in the town center. On the island of Cajaíba (10 minutes by boat) are sugar-mills and houses of the colonial period. There are a number of fishing villages on the Ilhas Grande, Pequena and das Fontes.
Santo Amaro, Brazil
Santo Amaro (pop. 70,000) is a sugar-cane-growing center in the northern Recìncavo, 81km/50mi from Salvador and 62km/39mi (on BR 324) from Feira de Santana (see entry). It has preserved a number of handsome 17th and 18th century buildings, including the church of Nossa Senhora dos Humildes (Museum of Religious Art) and the town's principal church Nossa Senhora da Purificação. Nearby are the 18th century churches of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira dos Campinhos and São Domingos de Saubara. Popular festivals such as the Bembà do Mercado are lively occasions, with afoxés, maculelàs (a dance/play peculiar to Santo Amaro), capoeira dances and rituals in praise of orixás (Afro-Brazilian divinities). During the Festa de Nossa Senhora da Purificação (January/February) the church is washed.
Praia do Forte, Mata de Sao Jose, Brazil
From the Dos de Julho Airport, north-west of Salvador, BA 099 (Rodovia do Coco) runs north to almost entirely unspoiled beaches with waterfalls. A particularly attractive beach on this stretch of coast is the Praia do Forte, in the commune of Mata de São José, 85km/53mi from Salvador. Between the Praia do Forte lagoon and the sea is the largest Brazilian center of the Tamar Project for the preservation of turtles. Here too are the ruins of the Casa da Torre de Garcia d'Avila, a splendid 16th century country house of which the chronicler Fernão Cardim wrote: "It is the finest in all Brazil, entirely of stucco, ... with a six-sided vault and three doorways and luxuriant ornament." All that now survives is the massive arcading, a few stretches of wall and the hexagonal chapel with masonry vaulting and a pyramidal roof, of a type found in the Portuguese province of Alentejo.22km/13.5mi north of Salvador is the Abaí beach. Within the city area is the Praia do Forte, and to the south are Itacimirim, Guarajuba (16km/10mi from the Praia do Forte), Barra do Jacuípe, Arembepe, Interlagos, Jauá, Busca Vida (51km/31.5mi) and Buraquinho (52km/32mi).
The historic town of Cachoeira (pop. 30,000) was a stronghold of the Brazilian forces who defeated the Portuguese army in 1822 and 1823. The town lies in the western Recìncavo amid tobacco and sugar-cane plantations, 40km/25mi west of Santo Amaro and 116km/72mi from Salvador (on BR 324).Features of interest in the town are the Casa da Câmara e Cadeia (1698), which during the War of Independence was the seat of the government of Bahia and now houses the Town Hall (Paço Municipal) and Municipal Archives; the 18th century church of the Ordem Terceira (Third Order) do Carmo, in Rococo style, with gilded altars and figures from Macau; the 18th century church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário, with ceiling paintings and Portuguese tile pictures; and the church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição do Monte, which also dates from the 18th century.On the road to Santo Amaro are handsome old sugar-mills of the colonial period. At Muritiba, 10km/6mi away, visitors can watch cigars being made by traditional methods.
1km/.7mi from Cachoeira, linked with it by a large road and rail bridge, is São Felix, a cigar-manufacturing town.
22km/13.5mi from Cachoeira is Maragogipe. The doorway of the principal church, São Bartolomeu (1640), is similar to those of town mansions in Salvador.
Baía de Todos os Santos - Islands
Among the islands in the Baía de Todos os Santos are the Ilha da Madre de Deus (Island of the Mother of God) off Candeias, with a 17th century church and an oil refinery; Bom Jesus dos Passos, a center of craft production and boat building; the Ilha dos Frades, with waterfalls and coconut palms; the Ilha da Maré (pillow lace making), with the colonial church of Nossa Senhora das Neves; and the large island of Itaparica. From the Terminal São Joaquim (Agua dos Meninos), the landing-stages on Avenida França, the Terminal Turístico Marítimo and the Estação Marítima de Passageiros e Administração do Porto de Salvador - all in the lower town of Salvador - there are regular ferry services to Itaparica, Maragogipe and the Ilha dos Frades. The boats for the Ilha da Maré sail from São Tomé de Paripe (23km/14mi from Salvador on the Avenida Suburbana).
On the stretch of coast between the Recìncavo and Ilhéus is the Jaguaripe area, sometimes known as the "Pantanal of Bahia". This is a highly complex eco-system, with beaches, mangroves, rivers and numerous smaller waterways and channels draining into the bay. There is excellent fishing to be had in this area. There is also an expanse of mata atlântica in which pakas, anteaters, foxes, maned wolves (now rare) and other species live.
The starting-point for a trip to the unspoiled Cacha-Pregos area is the little town of that name, a boat building center at the southern tip of the island of Itaparica, where boats can be hired to explore the area. On the seaward side Cacha-Pregos is fringed by beautiful beaches; farther inland, round the estuary of the Rio Jaguaripe, are swamps. Along the banks of that river and its tributaries are mangroves.To reach Cacha-Pregos, take the ferry to the island of Itaparica and then continue by road; alternatively it can be reached by way of the Funil Bridge, which links Itaparica with the mainland and runs into the road to Nazaré. Nazaré is 65km/40mi by ferry from Salvador and 21km/13mi from Jaguaripe, a port founded in the 16th century.
Map of Salvador Attractions