A dive into Salvador soul
Largest free market in the city forms a great maze of gastronomic, sound and cultural experiences
Walking through the numerous alleys of Feira de São Joaquim you’ll for sure find a little of all that Bahia has. People come and go, herbs of all kinds, fresh fruits, pots made in the Bahian Recôncavo, animals, clay crafts, baskets and straw bags, religious items, mouth-watering delicacies and eye-catching colors.
In the Lower City, between All Saints Bay and Oscar Pontes Avenue, the free market is large in size and in history. Its corridors form a large maze where visitors can take a deep dive, without filters and cutouts, into the Bahian culture soul.
Before settling in the current location and taking the name it has today, this outdoors trade already occupied the city. In the 1930s, it was called Feira do Sete, due to its proximity to the seventh Dock warehouse, and it received an intense movement of sloops from the Recôncavo.
Later, with the modernization of Salvador port, it changed its address and was renamed Feira de Água de Meninos, being portrayed in some books by Jorge Amado and many drawings by Carybé – which, it is said, had the place as one of his favorite spots in the city. By the way, the beautiful railing at the entrance to the fair is a work by Carybé.
If today the fair is considered one of the sights of Salvador, it has emerged from a tragedy. In 1964, the place suffered a fire that completely destroyed it.
What will you find there?!
The attractions are many, but if you are looking for low prices, Feira de São Joaquim is the ideal place. Fruits, vegetables, assorted peppers, dried shrimp, leaf to ward off the evil eye, beads of all colors and saints: you’ll find it there and it is not expensive. This is where most of the products reach the city and one of the main suppliers of the simplest to the most expensive restaurants in Salvador.
Located on a small seafront, the restaurants in the revitalized part of the market are unmissable, not only for the breathtaking view of All Saints Bay, but also for the menu. The Pôr do Sol da Diva restaurant, for example, has feijoada as a flagship, but also serves moqueca, mocotó, pititinga and other delights.
But pay attention to this tip: if you are going for lunch, you better arrive early! The tables and chairs facing the sea are disputed, after all, who doesn’t want to enjoy a beautiful view, while having lunch and a cold beer? And if you’re one of those who like to record and share this kind of experience, the view makes amazing photos for Instagram.
Nearby, on the pier, every Sunday there is Samba da Feira. Starting at 10am, access is free and the drumming begins, with dancing feet and the rhythm marked in the hand, in a way that only Bahia has.
Feira de São Joaquim
Address: 40301-155 – Calçada, Salvador – BA
Opening hours: every day from 5am to 5pm
Important: the restaurants in the revitalized area need no reservation, but it’s good to arrive early to assure a seat.
Accessibility: with the exception of the revitalized area, the corridors of Feira de São Joaquim are tight for wheelchair. In restaurants, chairs and tables have traditional height.
Parking: the place doesn’t have ample parking. But right in front of it there are two large private parking lots.
Feira de São Joaquim. Calçada. Salvador Bahia. Foto: Amanda Oliveira.