Power, history and beauty overlooking the Bay
Former headquarters of the State Government houses a museum of great value for Brazil
When leaving the Lacerda Elevator, in the Historic Center of Salvador, it is inevitable that your eyes will meet the imposing building located on your right. It is not a church or a theater, as many people think. This building is one of the most important symbols of our city, which holds an important portrait of Brazil. The Rio Branco Palace is a monument that was born along with the country’s first capital and carries a history full of curiosities and beauty.
Tomé de Sousa gave the order for the construction of the place’s first project. It would house the headquarters of the Portuguese government and serve as a command center, residence and official dispatch for the great powers. It received members of Portuguese royalty, Emperor D. Pedro I and Empress Leopoldina, and Emperor D. Pedro II and Empress D. Tereza Christina.
In 1912, this first and simplest building was hit by a bombing and was in ruins, being reopened in 1919, when it received its current name in honor of the Baron of Rio Branco. The place has already served as barracks and as a prison. It housed the Pedro Calmon Foundation and now houses the Secretary of Culture of the State of Bahia.
What many people don’t know is that the space, in addition to being open to visitors on the first floor, has one of the most special views of the city. If you are tired of taking that classic photo in the Lacerda Elevator, in the palace you will have a side view of the monument, in addition to having a perfect view of the All Saints Bay, the São Marcelo Fort and the Lower City. The click is guaranteed!
The place also houses the Memorial of the Governors, an important part for the construction of the country’s history, much visited by schools and researchers. There, it is possible to find insignia, swords, city keys, diplomas, letters, daggers, crystals, china, books, medals, photos and personal objects such as ashtrays, letter openers and pens of these personalities, all donated by family members. A special emotion for the visitors.
“Salvador’s identity construction runs through this memorial and the collection has the role of telling our story through objects”, says Zamana Brisa, a museologist.
A beautiful iron and bronze staircase, with a beautiful stained glass window at the top, welcomes you as soon as you enter. To the right, you visit the Memorial of the Governors, and to the left, you reach the balcony facing the All Saints Bay. Before starting the tour, notice the details of this staircase: observe the presence of the Phoenix, an animal that represents power and sovereignty. But beware: access is restricted, visitors cannot go up. To satisfy your curiosity, we were only allowed for registration and documentation.
Upstairs, two imposing rooms hold many stories. One of them is the Hall of Mirrors (Sala dos Espelhos), where function transfers and high-level parties took place. Such a pomp! The Dispatch Room was the place where the governor met with secretaries and advisers. In it, it is possible to admire a painting from 1930, made by Antônio Parreiras, entitled “First Steps for the Independence of Bahia”.
If you want to know more, you can schedule a guided tour around the Memorial and the halls on the ground floor of the Rio Branco Palace, to follow every curious detail we have mentioned here. Take a deep dive into this story. You will not regret it!
Rio Branco Palace
Address: Praça Tomé de Souza, no number – Centro, Salvador – BA, 40020-000
Phone #: (71) 3116-6928
Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday, from 10am to 12pm, and from 1pm to 5pm.
Important: second floor visitation is not allowed.
Accessibility: there are some steps to access the central door, with no ramp. The entire ground floor has wide circulation, without steps or unevenness. There is an accessible route from Pelourinho, this blog has a lot of updated information regarding this subject in this link.
We’ve prepared a perfect playlist for this experience. Listen now!
Palácio Rio Branco. Centro Histórico, Salvador, Bahia. Foto: Amanda Oliveira .