Religious tourism grows annually and attracts more and more crowds in pilgrimages and events throughout the country. Religious tourism in Salvador de Bahia in the temples of faith and culture.
The religious tourism in Salvador such as events like the pilgrimage of Bom Jesus da Lapa and the masses in honor of Sister Dulce generate a global flow of approximately 1.5 million visitors to the state of Bahia.
They are tourists moved by faith, who cross hundreds of kilometers to ask for protection and thank for blessings.
Legend has it that Salvador (BA) would have 365 churches, one for each day of the year.
Some scholars claim that the number of these temples does not exceed 200. Others guarantee that the number of churches is much higher than those sung by Dorival Caymmi. The truth is that the religious temples of this land of all saints hold many stories, mysteries and art.
The variety of styles, ranging from baroque to neoclassical, the tile panels, the gold-covered ornaments and the paintings tell the story of the country with great beauty.
Salvador is the place where faith and art mix and provide the religious tourism visitor with a journey through time.
The 10 most beautiful and important churches in Salvador for the practice of religious tourism so that tourists and Bahians know a little more about the religious history of this land.
Religious Tourism – Main Churches of Salvador BA
1. Church of São Francisco
Known as the “Golden Church”, with its interior covered in pure gold leaf, the Church of St. Francis is considered the most beautiful example of Portuguese Baroque in the Americas. Legend has it that its builders used a thousand kilos of gold powder.
The building, dating from the first half of the 18th century, houses beautiful examples of art that cannot be missed, such as the Portuguese tile panels, paintings and sculptures on the walls, columns, ceiling and altars. Location: Terreiro de Jesus, Pelourinho.
2. Igreja da Ordem Terceira de São Francisco
Right next to the famous Igreja da Ordem Terceira de São Francisco is known for its beautiful façade dating from 1702.
Designed by Gabriel Ribeiro, considered one of the introducers of Baroque in Bahia, the church is the only example of the Spanish style in Brazil.
The carved stone façade was only discovered during a renovation in the 20th century. For decades it was covered with mortar.
The reason for the “hiding place” remains unknown. According to some, the Third Brothers feared that after invading Portugal, Napoleon Bonaparte would cross the Atlantic in search of treasures from the Portuguese colony and had the church’s wealth covered.
Location: Terreiro de Jesus, Pelourinho.
3. Church and Convent of Carmo
Of important historical value of the Church and Convent of Carmo, the architectural complex founded in 1585 was the scene of important events related to the Dutch invasion and the Independence of Bahia. The surrender of the Dutch was signed here.
The main attraction of the convent is the sculpture Christ tied to the column, by Francisco das Chagas, the Goat, which was recently recovered.
The building also houses a museum. The sacristy is considered one of the richest in Brazil. Part of the former convent has been transformed into a luxury hotel.
Location: Rua do Carmo.
4. Basilica Cathedral
The Cathedral Basilica from the 17th century has 13 altars from the Renaissance to the Rococo phase.
It became known for being the place of death of Father Antônio Vieira – whose sermons led to his condemnation by the Inquisition in 1697 – and for housing the tomb of the third Governor-General of Brazil Mem de Sá.
Be sure to visit the Cathedral Museum, with a collection of pieces from the 16th to the 20th centuries.
Location: Terreiro de Jesus, Pelourinho.
5. Igreja do Santíssimo Sacramento da Rua do Passo
It became known for being the setting of the famous work “The Payer of Promises” by the Bahian writer Dias Gomes.
The movie, inspired by the book, won the “Palme d’Or” in Cannes in the early 60s. Built at the beginning of the 18th century, it underwent major internal changes a hundred years later, including the ossuary.
The staircase, which connects the church with the Carmo hillside, was opened in the 19th century to give more grandeur to the temple, previously hidden in the narrow street. Every Tuesday, the staircase is occupied by a crowd that dances to the sound of the afoxé of the singer Gerônimo.
Location: Ladeira do Carmo.
6. Church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos
Construction began in the early 18th century and took almost 100 years to complete.
The work was carried out at night during the resting hours of freed slaves, after the services in the houses of their masters.
Inside, highlights include the tile panels, the ceiling painted by José Joaquim da Rocha, the neo-classical altars and three 18th-century images – of Our Lady of the Rosary, Saint Anthony of Cartegerona and Saint Benedict. At the back is an old slave cemetery.
The church is one of the places where you can witness religious syncretism in Bahia. Frequented by mothers and fathers of saints, the temple is the stage for ceremonies that mix Catholic and Afro-Brazilian rites. Pelourinho.
7. Church and Monastery of São Bento
The building, which took more than two centuries to complete, was designed by Friar Macário de São João.
The temple houses two beautiful life-size images of Our Lady of Anguish and the Dead Lord.
Be sure to visit the museum, which for more than 400 years has accumulated a collection of images, paintings, furniture, goldsmiths, crystals and porcelain from the 17th and 18th centuries.
The monastery also has one of the largest libraries in Brazil, with about 300,000 volumes.
Among the rarities are incunabula, books from the beginning of the art of printing, and a Gospel from 1504. Largo de São Bento.
8. Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Praia
According to historians, the church of the patron saint of Bahia was first built in mud when Governor Tomé de Souza arrived in Salvador.
Much later, it was decided to build a church with Portuguese stonework.
The entire temple was prefabricated in Lisbon from 1736 and brought back on countless journeys. Construction took eight decades to complete.
Elevated to the category of basilica in 1946, the church has a ceiling painted in perspective by José Joaquim da Rocha, founder of the Bahian school of painting and the main Brazilian sacred painter. It is considered the most beautiful of all Brazilian churches.
Location: Comércio, Cidade Baixa.
9. Church and Convent of Santa Teresa
Considered one of the most important monuments of religious architecture of the Brazilian colonial period, it has beautiful gardens with a panoramic view of the Bay of All Saints.
The building houses the Museum of Sacred Art, maintained by the Federal University of Bahia, with about 1,400 pieces dating from the 16th to the 19th century. Location: Rua do Sodré, 276 – Centro.
10. Igreja do Nosso Senhor do Bonfim
The Igreja do Nosso Senhor do Bonfim is one of the most famous in the religious tourism itinerary of Bahia, located on the Sacred Hill, it became known for being a place of devotion where every year the famous washing of the stairs, the Lavagem do Bonfim, is carried out, which brings together the faith of Catholics and Candomblé practitioners.
The interior of the building started in 1756 has a neoclassical style and holds works such as the ceiling panel, by Francisco Velasco, the paintings by José Rufino Capinam at the entrance of the church.
Be sure to visit the Sala dos Milagres (Miracles Room), which houses ex-votos, such as heads, legs and arms made of wax, wood, gold, silver and precious stones, currently on display in the Ex-votos Museum on the upper floor of the church.
Be sure to tie a Bonfim ribbon on the church railings and make three requests, one at each knot on the ribbon. Location – Pça. Senhor do Bonfim, s/n- Cidade Baixa.
Religious Tourism in Salvador da Bahia
Bahia and Salvador Tourism and Travel Guide