History and Sights of Avenida Contorno in Salvador BA

Avenida Contorno in Salvador was inaugurated in 1962, designed by the architect Diógenes Rebouças and connected Campo Grande to Cidade Baixa.

Gamboa de Baixo can be considered one of the most privileged locations in Salvador. Surrounded by a private beach and with a unique view of the sunset on Itaparica Island.

Gamboa – which houses communities of Solar do Unhão and Gamboa de Cima and de Baixo – is bordered by Avenida Contorno and is embraced by the Bay of All Saints.

Avenida Contorno in Salvador BA, to the left the Solar do Unhão and the Chapel of Our Lady of the Conception.
Avenida Contorno in Salvador BA, to the left the Solar do Unhão and the Chapel of Our Lady of the Conception.

Nestled between the Museum of Modern Art of Bahia (MAM) and the slope of Campo Grande, the little beach of Gamboa de Baixo, as it came to be called by the local community.

Old photo of Contorno Avenue in Salvador BA
Old photo of Contorno Avenue in Salvador BA

On the ground, grains give way to stones. Surrounded by a coastal community inhabited by fishermen, the site has a unique architectural composition.

Photo of the 1958 Contorno Avenue, Salvador BA
Photo of the 1958 Contorno Avenue, Salvador BA

One of the main links between the upper city and the lower city, Avenida Lafayette Coutinho, known as Avenida Contorno, lies on the shores of Todos-os-Santos Bay.

The success of the location can be explained not by its function of connecting neighbourhoods in the city, but by the tendency to offer attractive spaces to the public.

In addition, the Contorno region has been visited by celebrities such as Anitta, Rafa Kalimann, Iza and Ivete Sangalo. The space also received the recording of scenes from the soap opera “Segundo Sol”, in 2018.

The 4 tourist attractions on the Contorno in Salvador

1. Praia da Preguiça: from sports practice to carnival block

Praia da Preguiça in Salvador BA
Praia da Preguiça in Salvador BA

According to historians, part of the region around Praia da Preguiça was considered an area of the Salvadoran elite between the 18th and 19th centuries. Houses and townhouses were requested by those with high purchasing power. Today, in the 21st century, the beach is considered an open-air sports centre.

There are classes in footvolley, canoeing, diving and recreational fishing. “Praia da Preguiça has a lot of quality due to its paradisiacal beauty provided by the sea,” explains Clayton Correia, a footvolley teacher.

The beach has also become a place that hosts multiple events, such as “Banho de Mar à Fantasia da Praia da Preguiça”, a pre-carnival block. The procession, which began in the 1930s, was interrupted in the 1990s and returned in 2012. After the pandemic, the bloco returned to parade this year.

Another attraction of Preguiça is the restaurant “Mirante Tropical da Ladeira”, located on Ladeira da Preguiça and overlooking Praia da Preguiça. The space has hosted celebrities such as Lázaro Ramos, Dira Paes and Clara Buarque.

The enterprise operates inside an old mansion, which was also the setting for the recording of the music video for the song “Baile de Favelinha”, by rap duo LT and singer Léo Santana.

2. MAM Beach unifies nature, culture and art

Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia
Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia

With crystal clear and calm waters, MAM Beach is a leisure area and tourist spot in the region.

Located between the stone containment of Bahia Marina and the Museum of Modern Art of Bahia (MAM), the space is ideal for those who wish to appreciate works of art and sculptures by Mário Cravo and Carybé.

As it is a small beach, the place is subject to capacity and has opening hours from 8.30am to 5pm. The responsibility and control of the place are of the Museum of Modern Art itself.

Praia do MAM em Salvador BA
Praia do MAM em Salvador BA

The space also stores on the small access trail to the beach sand, works by artists, such as Mestre Didi, Juarez Paraíso, Emanuel Araújo, José Resende, Siron Franco and Ivens Machado.

Among the instagrammable points are the sculptures of Yemanjá and the Venus sculpted in iron.

3. Community of Solar do Unhão

On Avenida Contorno, it is worth visiting the beauties that mark the Solar do Unhão Community, a locality that has graffiti as its trademark, and overflows art and culture through the paintings of the Salvador Street Art Museum (Musas).

Comunidade do Solar do Unhão em Salvador BA
Comunidade do Solar do Unhão em Salvador BA

The community is also known for its beautiful sea and its views of the Bay of All Saints. Great culinary options and the possibility to see different types of arts also set the tone of the place.

In addition, Solar do Unhão is also visited by visual artists who come to the community to express themselves.

“A community that has prepared itself to receive people in a super pleasant way. We draw attention by placing our art, our graffiti in this different way. This investment in art together with all the other things around generates this attraction in the community”, comments the plastic artist Júlio Costas, resident of the place.

4. Quinta do Unhão House

The “Solar do Unhão and Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Conceição”, or “Casa e Capela da Antiga Quinta do Unhão”, or simply “Quinta do Unhão”.

François René Moreaux - Solar do Unhão with the Church of Our Lady of the Conception of the Beach, Salvador da Bahia
François René Moreaux – Solar do Unhão with the Church of Our Lady of the Conception of the Beach, Salvador da Bahia

.It is an architectural complex formed by the manor house, the Chapel of Our Lady of the Conception, the landing pier, a fountain, an aqueduct, a fountain, warehouses and an alembic with tanks.

On the access bridge to the manor house there are bars of Baroque ornamental tiles produced in Lisbon in the 1770s to 1780s. The fountain, originally fed by the aqueduct, is a Baroque piece in dark sandstone, formed by a frown from which water gushes, and two superimposed shells.

A manor house or palace is the original home of a noble family. The name is also used more broadly for an old residence of great luxury and comfort, relative to its time. A manor house could be inhabited by nobles or simply a family belonging to the elite traditional and ancient of a region or city. In a few cases the original families continue to inhabit their old manors.Sometimes, some merchants and businessmen very wealthy also built their manors, notably in Brazil, but, all of these were erected in the early 20th century.
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Description of the building/set:

  • Implantation: The complex is formed by the manor house, chapel and sheds, implanted on the embankment installed to the sea of the Bay of All Saints.
  • Occupation: The complex occupies an area with a notable landscape presence, bathed by a small pebble beach, next to a hillside and the set of popular houses of Gamboa de Baixo. Nearby there are also the arches that supported the Avenida Contorno. Still in the period when it functioned as an agro-industrial complex, the information mentions that the Solar had a functional distribution characteristic of the colonial period, ground floor used as a service, first floor occupied by the family and stolen water used as a servants’ dormitory.
  • Number of floors: 1 to 3.
  • Structure: Manor house box in stone masonry and brick arcades on the ground floor.
  • Covering: The houses that make up the complex have a pitched and gable roof.
  • Frames: The large sash windows in colonial style that surround the houses allow a greater use of light inside the environments.
  • Architectural style and decorative elements: The buildings are mostly colonial in style.

Historical data

  • The complex served as an agro-industrial complex of the same kind as the sugar mills, with a large house, chapel and slave quarters. The extensive wharf and warehouses suggest that its function was to collect and export the production of the mills of the Recôncavo.
  • In 1616, a resident of the Recôncavo resided there.
  • In 1690, the judge Pedro de Unhão Castelo Branco lived there.
  • In the early 1700s it was bought by José Pires de Carvalho e Albuquerque.
  • At the beginning of the 19th century, the property belonged to Antônio Joaquim Pires de Carvalho e Albuquerque, after a succession of owners until the period of 1928, the property is sold to the State.

Further information

  • The ensemble underwent some important restorations after the purchase by the State:
  • 1946: Stabilisation, conservation and cleaning works.
  • 1960: Work begins on the Avenida Contorno, the project for which envisaged one of the lanes passing between the Manor House and the chapel and another that would cause the aqueduct and the fountain to disappear. After reactions from the press, the architect Diógenes Rebouças proposed an alternative route for the avenue.
  • 1962/1963: The State Government carries out a restoration to house the Museum of Popular Art of Bahia, with a project by the architect Lina Bo Bardi, including the installation of a helical staircase and the replacement of plaster with plaster in some pavilions.

History and Sights of Avenida Contorno or Avenida Lafayette Coutinho in Salvador BA

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