I can always tell when I’m on the bus with someone that has never taken the bus to the Pelourinho.

As we go through the commercial stretch of Avenida Sete de Setembro they start looking around nervously, suddenly thinking the are on the wrong bus. Then, when the bus stops at Praca da Sé and the driver makes them get off they have no idea where they are going. If I’m not late myself, I’ll ask them if they are going to the Pelourinho and point them in the right direction.

Getting oriented

Elevador Lacerda in Salvador, Brazil

The city recently changed the direction the busses use to approach the Praca da Sé bus stop. And, since I don’t know if it’s going to change back, I can’t tell you go to left or right when you get off the bus. With that disclaimer out of the way, here are the landmarks you can use to orient yourself.

When you get off the bus, set yourself up so that:

  • The glass bus shelters are on your left
  • A building with blue and purple polka dots is on your right
  • A salmon-colored building that has a Lanchonete sign to your front on the other side of the street. You might also be able to see the Bay of All Saints in the far distance.

Once you are properly-oriented, walk towards the salmon-colored Lanchonete building, and when you arrive at the cross-street, Rua Chile, turn right up the street. Honestly, the vast majority of the people getting off the bus are likely also heading the same way you are, so following the crowd is probably not a bad idea.

On Rua Chile, about 100 meters ahead you’ll notice that the street opens up to a large square and there are probably a number of street vendors hanging about. You’re heading in the right direction.

Praça Tomé de Souza

When you arrive at that first square, that is Praça Tomé de Souza. While technically not yet at the Pelourinho, this square is typically a first stop for visitors. On the right is the city council’s office. On the left is a former Portuguese administration building, the iconic Elevador Lacerda, and a nautical-looking building that is the mayor’s (prefeitura) office.

As you continue on, you will pass:

  • A Bradesco bank on the right
  • Several tourist-oriented shops shops on the right
  • The Misericordia museum on the left (a worthwhile stop)
  • And then as the road turns to the right, continue straight and step up onto the square that is actually Praça da Sé

Praça da Sé

Walk along Praça da Sé, past the street vendors, and the fountain. Just past the fountain, down the road to the left is Casa do Carnaval — a new museum that opened in February 2018. I give it two thumbs up — what you need to know to visit Casa do Carnaval.

After you get done looking at the creepy clown-like structure outside of Casa of Carnaval, look to the right. There is the square known as Terreiro de Jesus — one of the three major squares of the Pelourinho.

As you cross the square, about halfway across you’ll see a road that heads to the left. That is one of the three main entry points to the heart of the Pelourinho. On your left, the large salmon-colored building once housed the oldest medical school in Brazil. That same building is now a combination government building and Afro-Brazilian Museum.

Get to know the Pelourinho

The Pelourinho, the historic center of Salvador, is a true must-not-be-missed experience for every visitor to our magical city. It is the is the heartbeat of the city.

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