Brazil travel guide



Salvador Travel Guide

Museu Afro-Brasileiro

The Faculdade de Medicina, located on the Terreiro de Jesus in Pelourinho, was the first medical school in Brazil (founded in 1808). It's a beautiful structure (originally the Colégio dos Jesuitas and currently in the process of being renovated), and it houses a couple of museums, the most interesting being the Museu Afro-Brasileiro.

The museum's collection deals principally with artifacts and explanations (in Portuguese) having to do with the arrival of Africans in Bahia and the resulting cultural links between Bahia and Africa. Of particular interest are the enormous wood carvings of orixás by Carybé in a back room (you may have to ask how to get there).

The museum was worth visiting to see the history of African slaves brought here by the Portuguese. 10 million Africans were brought to Brazil (ten times more than were sent to the USA), with a large percentage landing in Bahia. Their culture is evident in Salvador today in much of the local food, capeoira and religion. Many Salvadorians practice Candomblé, a Afro-Brazilian religious cult.

Its followers often dress in white and worship together in ecstatic dance rituals accompanied by drumming and singing. They make animal sacrifices to the Orixas spirits, personal protectors and to their creator gold Olorum. It seems about as far from High Church Portuguese Catholicism as you can get, some cult houses or Terreiro, are open to the public. In the museum you can find a very informative exhibition, this included detailed descriptions of what followers of each spirit wear. You can tell which one some one follows by the colour of their beads.

Working hours: Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a two real entrance charge.

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