Get to know Brazil’s World Cup host city Salvador.

THE World Cup has been going on for some time in Brazil. On June 20, France and Switzerland faced off in the colourful, culturally rich city of Salvador. Here’s a primer on the city known as the first capital of Brazil.

Location: Northeast coast of Brazil and the capital of Bahia state.

Nickname: Brazil’s “Capital of Happiness”, for the countless outdoor parties and festivities held throughout the city all year.

Average annual temperature: 27C

Population: 2.7 million.

Interesting facts: Salvador is known as the first capital of Brazil for having been the first urban area to be colonised in Brazil by the Portuguese on March 29, 1549.

The city is one of the oldest in the Americas.

As the first urban area to be settled in Brazil, the coastal city became one of the main poles of the slave trade in South America. Today, Salvador is home to the world’s biggest African population outside of Africa, with more than 80% of its population made up of Afro-descendants. The result is a city rich in Portuguese, African and indigenous influences.

Salvador’s historical centre, Pelourinho, was inscribed as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1985 for its colourful, colonial and historical churches and buildings.

To see and do:

Modelo Market

A popular meeting place in the city, the market is home to 271 shops that sell a variety of handicrafts, gifts and souvenirs, and traditional restaurants that serve authentic Bahia cuisine.

Another major attraction is the capoeira circles held behind the building, a demonstration of Brazilian martial arts that combines martial art and dance, brought to Brazil by African slaves.

Pelourinho

Though today the city’s historic centre is a major tourist destination for its collection of colourful colonial buildings, during the dark days of slavery the area served as the place where slaves were punished.

There are 365 buildings and churches in the city centre – one for each day of the year.

Be sure to check out the Santo Antonio da Barra Fort, the Sao Francisco Convent, and the Barra Lighthouse.

The Lacerda Lift is used to shuttle visitors between the High and Low city. Four electric lifts can transport up to 20 passengers at a time.

Salvador Basilica

Built between 1652 and 1672, the church is considered by many to be the most important religious building in Brazil for its art and architecture. – AFP Relaxnews