History - Salvador, From Past to Present
The All Saints Bay (
Baía de Todos os Santos) was discovered by Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci in 1500. Legend says on the 1st of November: All Saints’ Day, hence the name.
It took another 30 years in history however, before an explorer set foot on land in the are which became later Salvador da Bahia.
Something remarkable, because Salvador's bay is a beautiful and, moreover, valuable natural harbour, the largest of entire
|Vespucci's legacy honored with a stamp|
Later on, the bay was name giver of the entire area, which became the huge state of
Bahia(‘Bay’). Anyway, in 1534 the first settlement was established in the area, near present-day Barra. It took another 15 years before Tomé de Sousa, first governor-general of Brazil, founded the city of Salvador.
Salvador (‘Savior’ in Poruguese) was built on the high cliffs of the peninsula guarding the bay from the Atlantic Ocean: a majestic spot for the first capital of the colony Brazil.
Salvador, colonial capital of Brazil
|Salvador da Bahia had its heyday in the 17th century.
The capital of colonial Brasilwas its main seaport, maintaining close commercial ties with Portugal and Portuguese colonies in Africa and Asia. After Lisbon, Salvador was even the most important city of the Portuguese empire.
Salvador was thriving on the sugar and tobacco industry and... the slave trade. During three centuries, about 3.5 million African slaves had been brought to Brazil in order to work on the north-eastern plantations.
Salvador became one of the biggest settlements in the New World, attracting interest from other European super powers of the time. For a short period of time, Salvador came under Dutch rule, but soon the Portuguese took control again.
However, in 1763 the colonial administration moved from Salvador to Rio de Janeiro, which port had a better location toward the state of Minas Gerais. Almost overnight, the sugar industry had lost its position to a new ‘crop’: gold...
|After Salvador lost its status as capital city of Brazil, the city became a stronghold of the resistance against the Portuguese.
In 1812, the independence movement and the rest of Salvador suffered under a fierce Portuguese siege, but finally, in 1823 on the 2nd of July, Bahia became independent.
Siege of Salvador: Overture of Brazilian Independency, 1823
Although Salvador missed out on many successes of the Brazilian industrialisation in the 20th century, the city remained one of the most important parts of Brazil, historically but also economically.
Today Salvador is even the third largest city in the country and after cleaning up and restoring the historical city centre (Pelourinho) Salvador is also a significant tourist attraction in Brasil. UNESCO recognized the efforts and has been labelling the historic centre of Salvador da Bahia as
World Heritage Areasince 1985.
More on the history of Brazil