Praça da Sé
Rua da Misericórdia opens up onto Praça da Sé. If you’re taking a bus from anywhere in the city to the Pelourinho, the bus stop right before the square is the final destination for all buses from Barra, Itapuã, and the airport.
This renovated square with its uncomfortable benches and somewhat kitschy fountain was once the site of Salvador’s original 16th-century sé, or cathedral, which was destroyed in 1933. Excavation sites reveal some of the original cathedral’s foundations, but otherwise the square is quite modern.
If you stick around too long, you’ll quickly discover that the praça is a favorite hangout for street performers—ranging from somewhat eery human statues to ubiquitous Michael Jackson impersonators (who endeared himself to Bahians when he filmed his video for “They Don’t Care About Us” in the Pelourinho in 1998).
Meanwhile, at the far end of the Praça is the entrance to the Plano Inclinado Gonçalves (7 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Sat.), a thrillingly steep funicular that whisks 30 passengers at a time between the Cidade Alta and Cidade Baixa.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition