Good food, natural beauty or water sports. In Itapuã, what do you miss the most?
Waking up early to see the fishermen pulling the net, checking the tide table to enjoy the natural pools that are formed in the dry tide and taking the opportunity to practice SUP or Windsurf. Coconut palms on the beach, salty smell of sea air and, to complete the scene, the Itapuã Lighthouse, Salvador’s postcard. This routine simplicity and contact with nature are perhaps the most nostalgic sensations we have from Itapuã.
Eternalized in the verses of Dorival Caymmi, Vinícius de Moraes and Toquinho, Itapuã has this artistic “presence” until now. One of the most musical neighborhoods in Salvador is also home to the Afro Group Malê Debalê, soirées and the Ganhadeiras de Itapuã, in addition to having one of the most iconic acarajés in the city, Acarajé da Cira.
Historically, the identity of Itapuã was shaped from the customs of fishermen, ganhadeiras, cooks, capoeiristas, singers and composers who created a set of cultural expressions of the richest in the country.
Residents and visitors miss calling even the stones by name. Well, believe me: there are Itapuã do Meio and Itapuã Mirim, Pedra da Piraboca, Pedra do Sal, Pedra do Unhão, Pedra Redonda, Pedra da Beraba, Pedra do Diogo Dias also known as “Pedra do Goodyear”. This even recalls the famous history of the Ford sign beach that ended up becoming Placaford, the one located between Itapuã Beach and Piatã Beach.
If calling stone by name is for the “most familiar of the neighborhood”, then we will take you on a ride in this nostalgia for a great tour, even though it’s only through our memories. We definitely feel a nostalgia called Itapuã.
Remember how good it is to spend the afternoon in Itapuã? Press play!
Know a little of the history of the neighborhood
In Tupi Guarani, Itapuã means “erected stone”, “stone tip” or “tip of the stone” and not “rumbling stone”, as they say. It houses since the end of the 19th century the lighthouse that bears the same name as the neighborhood. About 30 kilometers from the center of Salvador, the old fishing village, difficult to access, is today one of the most famous and busy beaches in the city.
In the 17th century, the neighborhood was an important whaling structure, where fishing for these huge mammals was essential for oil extraction, responsible for lighting the urban center. Today, the care for this animal is such that there are tours that make it possible to observe humpback whales in Salvador, with the Itapuã neighborhood being exactly one of the great points. Between the months of July and November is the reproduction period of humpbacks, which exchange the cold waters of Antarctica for the warm temperatures of Bahia coast.
Knowing a little of the history makes us wish to live unforgettable moments in this neighborhood. And do you know how it became a trend in the 1960s? A darling of the city’s beaches at those times, Itapuã was the setting for the film “Dona Flor” and also the home of the playwright / poet / lyricist Vinicius de Moraes and the composer Dorival Caymmi. The enchanting day-to-day life with a country town-like atmosphere were some of the ingredients for the famous hymn “Tarde em Itapuã”, which Vinícius composed, with his partner Toquinho. Vinicius de Moraes (1913-1980) lived in Itapuã in the early 70s, with his beloved, the Bahian actress Gessy Gesse. In this house, today, there is a memorial for the artist and an excellent restaurant called Casa di Vina.
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Parana-ê, Parana-ê, Paraná… Mesmo que você nunca tenha visto uma roda de capoeira ao vivo, com certeza você conhece essa música. São muitas as histórias contadas sobre a origem da cantiga. Uma delas é a de que um mestre capoeirista conhecido Paraná faltou a uma importante roda e todos começaram a cantar. Essa é uma releitura da canção em homenagem ao mestre, uma versão mais moderna do som que embala diversas rodas ao redor do mundo. E aí, curtiu? – Parana-ê, Parana-ê, Paraná… Aunque nunca hayas visto una rueda de capoeira en vivo, ciertamente conoces esta canción. Son muchas las historias contadas sobre el origen de la canción. Una de ellas es la de que un maestro de capoeira conocido Paraná perdió una importante rueda y todos empezaron a cantar. Esta es una relectura de la canción en honor al maestro, una versión más moderna del sonido que conduce varias ruedas en todo el mundo. Y entonces, ¿te gustó? – Parana-ê, Parana-ê, Paraná… Even if you have never seen a circle of capoeira live, you certainly know this song. There are many stories told about the origin of the song. One is that a capoeira master known as Paraná missed an important circle and everyone started singing. This is a rereading of the song in honor of the master, a more modern version of the sound that guides several circles of capoeira around the world. So, did you like it? 📸 @heat.creative #VisitSalvadordaBahia #SalvadorDaBahia #Capoeira #Itapuã
Itapuã is one of the neighborhoods with the greatest artistic and cultural tradition in Salvador, with dozens of immaterial goods and heritage. According to the report “A Capoeira em Salvador”, by the Gregório de Mattos Foundation, the territory that houses Itapuã is the second in the region with the largest presence of capoeira groups and has a total of five museums.
The presence of manifestations of Afro-Brazilian religions is another strength of the region, which hosts no less than 101 Candomblé terreiros. Afro-Brazilian culture is also present in cuisine, as Itapuã is one of the main places for acarajé lovers, a typical delicacy from Salvador. According to the National Association of Baianas de Acarajé, the region of Piatã and Itapuã has an average of 238 trays of baianas de acarajé, among them some of the most famous in the city, such as Cira.
In addition to these groups and cultural events, fishing is one of the most traditional and economically important activities in the region. The fishermen colony of Itapuã (Z6), founded in 1956, gathers around 1,200 fishermen and 32 large boats. In fact, the Itapuã neighborhood, until the 1950s, was a fishing village, located 25km from the center of Salvador by that time. Until now, fishermen from Itapuã gather on the beach of Vila Velha to pull, all together, hundreds of fish in their fishing nets.
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O fotógrafo francês Pierre Verger foi um apaixonado por Salvador. Aqui, desenvolveu um trabalho pioneiro (e lindo) de registro do cotidiano e da cultura popular. Os pescadores, por exemplo, foram muito retratados por Verger. Neste Dia do Pescador, vamos relembrar sua obra e homenagear esses personagens tão importantes para a cidade. Queremos saber como você os enxerga. Poste sua foto sobre eles e marque a gente! Estamos ansiosos. Foto Pierre Verger©Fundação Pierre Verger. Legenda: Peixe, Itapuã, Salvador, Brasil (1946 – 1947) #VisitSalvadordaBahia #SalvadordaBahia #MistureSe #visithistoriacultura – El fotógrafo francés Pierre Verger fue un apasionado por Salvador. Aquí, desarrolló un trabajo pionero (y lindo) de registro de lo cotidiano y de la cultura popular. Los pescadores, por ejemplo, han sido muy retratados por Verger. Para recordar su obra y rendir homenaje a esos personajes tan importantes para la ciudad, ¿qué te parece contarnos cómo los ves? #VisitSalvadordeBahia #SalvadorBahia #MezclaTe – The French photographer Pierre Verger was in love with Salvador. Here he developed a pioneering (and beautiful) work of recording everyday life and popular culture. The fishermen, for example, were much portrayed by Verger. On this Fisherman's Day, we will remember his work and pay homage to these important characters for the city. How about photographing them and showing people how you see them? #VisitSalvadorBahia #SalvadorBahia #MixItUp #culturaltourism #culturaltrip
Itapuã Lighthouse, postcard from Salvador
In 1823, the Itapuã Lighthouse was inaugurated. Installed in Pedra Piraboca, the lighthouse is 21 meters high, has the shape of a tower, all in cast iron, to guide navigators in the region of calm sea, but full of rocks. Along with the sand banks of that region, they caused several shipwrecks until the lighthouse was raised to warn navigators of these dangers.
Since 1950, it has the current color: white and red. In addition to being useful for navigation, it also became a scenery. Itapuã lighthouse can reach with its white light approximately 30 kilometers (15 nautical miles).
There is no way to step on this floor, smell the palm oil and not wanting to eat acarajé, a gastronomic specialty of African and Afro-Brazilian cuisine loved by Bahians and tourists. And Itapuã is one of the delicacy’s symbol neighborhoods. One of the most delicious acarajés – and, because of that, one of the most popular – in Salvador, the Acarajé da Cira is a reference. The traditional black-bean fritter fried in palm oil, stuffed with vatapá and tomato and onion salad from Dona Jaciara de Jesus Santos pleases taste buds from the north to the south of the country, becoming a tourist spot in the city.
Cira in Itapuã – known as Largo da Cira, is in front of Posto 12 – R. Aristídes Milton, s / nº – Itapuã, Salvador – BA, 41610-160
Also visit the Mamão Bar and Restaurant. Not only for the delicious food, but also for Jorge, the owner, a vinyl collector, who has more than 3 thousand records in the establishment. Small, but very cozy, with tables under the trees, at Mamão you can have lunch to the sound of Moraes Moreira, Chico Buarque, Gal Costa, Gerônimo, Geraldo Azevedo, Baden Powell and many others straight out of the record player.
R. Min. Carlos Coqueijo Costa, 103 – Itapuã, Salvador – BA, 41620-810. Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday from 12pm to 11pm. Phone #: (71) 99139-1064
There are also the wonderful Casa di Vina and Mistura restaurants. You can find these two at Salvador Pede em Casa, and you can ask and receive all the tasting food in the comfort of your home.
A little far from the seashore, going a little further into the neighborhood, there is Lagoa do Abaeté, a symbol of the city. Around the lagoon, there is the Parque Metropolitano Lagoas e Dunas do Abaeté, opened in 1993. Nearby, is where Casa da Música is located, which promotes soirées, dance performances, theater plays, workshops, temporary exhibitions and musical chats.
It is to Itapuã that an important and awarded regional group comes: The Ganhadeiras de Itapuã. The group has the participation of musicians who play string and percussion instruments and almost 20 ladies, who are Cantadeiras, Ganhadeiras and Lavadeiras. With their voices of a very peculiar tone, they enchant listeners with each presentation. The objective is to rescue, preserve and strengthen the roots and historical and cultural traditions of the Itapuã neighborhood.
It is in this neighborhood that the headquarters of Malê Debalê is located, an Afro carnival block, founded in 1979 by a group of residents of Itapuã, who had the desire that their neighborhood could participate in Salvador’s carnival. Today, the group has about four thousand members.
Musically, the neighborhood has different movements, groups and rhythmic expressions. Some attractions that make up the Itapuã music scene are the Afoxé Korin Nagô, the Feminine Samba Collective Filhas do Mar, the Tribuna Livre do Samba, the Roda de Choro de Itapuã, the Cortejo da Baleia de Itapuã, the Samba School Unidos de Itapuã, the Lavagem of Itapuã Announcer Group, the Hip Hop Movement, among others. Another relevant musical expression is the Sarau de Itapuã, which has brought together lovers of literature and poetry for over 20 years.
An excellent moment when several of these groups gather is during the popular secular festival of washing the staircase of the parish church of Our Lady of Conceição, the Lavagem of Itapuã, a tradition that, in 2020, completed 115 years. Learn more at this link.
Casa da Música Cultural Center – Address: Alto do Abaeté, no number – Itapuã, Salvador – BA, 41610-510. Phone #: (71) 3116-1511
Beach, sport and leisure
The calm sea of medium waves of Itapuã Beach is bathed by the Atlantic Ocean with emerald color water. At certain points in the water, there are large rocks that form natural pools. Rua da Música – also known as Rua K – was the place where, in the 70s and 80s, artists, musicians and sportsmen from Salvador frequented. Until today, it is the meeting point for sportspeople in general and for those who want to practice Windsurf and S.U.P. Learn more about the neighborhood’s sports scene at this link.
If that weren’t enough, it is still excellent for those with young children, who can spend hours playing in the natural pools that are formed. And if you are looking for comfort by the sea, our suggestion is to go to Lôro Pedra do Sal, which with its excellent beach structure, is a true oasis on the sand. And look how cool! They are delivering Bahian cuisine. Learn more at this link.
Sculptures and busts are some of the tourist spots
Vinicius de Moraes
In honor of the artist, there is Praça Vinicius de Moraes (Vinicius de Moraes Square), with the Monument to the Poet, and Itapuã Beach in the background. This Monument was created by the Bahian artist Juarez Paraíso and had the collaboration of Márcia Magno, Renato Viana and Paula Magno. The square was opened in 2003, the year in which he would be 90 years old. It is located near the Itapuã Lighthouse. Vinícius’ bronze sculpture has a natural size. An empty chair next to it invites visitors to take pictures with the poet. In the square, there are also ten totems of 0.90cm x 1.60, where some of his compositions are recorded.
The bust is by the artist Márcia Magno, and the Gregório de Mattos Foundation is the author of the one meter high pedestal project. The piece is on a rectangular base, is approximately 1m55cm and is mounted right in front of the Church of Itapuã.
Sereia de Itapuã (Mermaid of Itapuã)
A symbol of Soteropolitan culture and religiosity, the “Sereia de Itapuã” was sculpted in iron by the plastic artist Mário Cravo, in 1958. The work – which measures 1.60 m and is a tribute by the artist to the neighborhood fishermen – is located on the seashore, on Avenida Octávio Mangabeira.
The ialorixá Gildásia dos Santos became a symbol of resistance for the affirmation of religions of African origin. After her image was tarnished and the terreiro invaded and depredated by representatives of another religion, the priestess’ health problems were aggravated and she died on January 21, 2000. The bust that honors Mãe Gilda is located in Parque do Abaeté, in the neighborhood of Itapuã .
When all this is over, take all these memories and tips from Itapuã and use them as a guide. For now, stay home. When you go out, wear a mask, and believe me: we will come out of it stronger, with even more affection for our neighbor and for this city too.
By Fernanda Slama
Portal content coordinator
Note: this itinerary makes use of information previously ordered by Visit Salvador da Bahia about the Itapuã neighborhood, collected by Tatiana Maria Dourado and Maria Dominguez.
Note *: the Abrolhos National Marine Park, near Caravelas, is the humpbacks’ paradise, the largest reproductive cradle of the species in the South Atlantic. But there are also tours in places such as Porto Seguro, Itacaré, Morro de São Paulo, Praia do Forte and Salvador.
Praia de Itapuã. Salvador, Bahia. Foto: Amanda Oliveira.