Palaces and Mansions
Besides churches, the Portuguese marked Bahia’s architecture with the construction of palaces, mansions, luxury houses and simple residences, which form the most opulent compound of ancient architecture in Brazil.
Annexed to the Passeio Público, the former Morais Palace (inaugurated in 1917) is decorated with beautiful panels, garlands, laces and medallions, painted by Presciliano Silva. Its asset is composed by furniture in D. José and Louis XV styles, porcelains, crystal, bronze, Persian and French rugs and paintings of famous painters. It blends the Italian Renaissance style with the French Neoclassic style. Until today, it keeps unaltered the decoration characteristics of the beginning of the 20th century, such as crystals, chandeliers and furniture.
Casa de Jorge Amado Foundation
Inaugurated on March 7th 1987, the foundation is open until today in two mansions located in the heart of Pelourinho. The cultural space –created to preserve, study and exhibit the work of Bahia’s great novel writer – gathers, in its four floors, all Jorge Amado’s works; books published in 60 countries of five continents, films, tapes and photos, besides posters and objects related to his life. There are also works of the writer’s wife, Zélia Gattai.
Gabinete Português de Leitura (Portuguese Reading Center)
Founded in 1863 to divulge Portugal’s culture in Bahia, it was built by Portuguese artisans. In its facade, there are statues of Dom Henrique and Luiz Vaz de camões and, in two medallions we can see the effigies of Pedro Álvares Cabral and Vasco da Gama.
Located at the bottom of Bonfim Hill, this house of the middle of the 19th century stands out for the elegance of its lines and ornaments. It has verandas with glass windows, a characteristic of Bahia’s mansions. It belongs to a traditional family of Bahia.
Beautiful, spacious and with a discrete decoration, Ondina Palace was built in the beginning of the 1960’s to be the summer residence of the governors. After successive renovations, Ondina Palace is today the governor’s official residence. In its interior, there are various art objects, such as Chinese vases, silver pieces and Persian rugs.
Palácio de Verão dos Arcebispos (Archbishops' Summer Palace)
Located at Penha Square, at the tip of Itapagipe Peninsula, the building is connected to Our Lady Penha Church. Its construction dates back to the 18th century.
Rio Branco Palace
Initially built in mud walls, in 1549, it sheltered Brazil’s general governor, Tomé de Sousa, and the center of the administration of the kingdom of Portugal. Called Government House, it was also used as quarter and prison, was involved in popular rebellions, hosted illustrious Portuguese people, was used as temporary residence for D. Pedro II and suffered fires and bombing like the one of 1912, which made its reconstruction necessary. Re-inaugurated in 1919 – when it received the name Rio Branco Palace – it remained the center of the state administration until 1979. During the following four years, it sheltered the administration of Salvador’s City Hall and, later, the headquarters of the state Tourism Authority. In 1983, the palace was degraded because of the lack of maintenance and, in the following year, it went under a complete renovation. Today, it’s home to Pedro Calmon Foundation and the Governors’ Memorial, where visitors may get to know names that built the republican history and visit the mirror room, which is accessed by iron and crystal stairs from France, and still see, in the room that evoke Pompey, the Bacantes Mural, which was covered for a long time by the re-paintings.
Solar Ferrão (Ferrão Mansion)
Located in the surroundings of Pelourinho Square, the 5 m² construction keeps characteristics of the second half of the 17th century. In 1756, the Jesuits installed a seminar in the building, which in the same century became a property of Ferrão Family. From then on it was the residence of noble families and a theater. In 1977, it was bought by Fundação do Patrimônio Artístico e Cultural – IPAC (Artistic and Cultural Heritage Foundation), which after the renovation installed its headquarters there.