All things Salvador begin and end with Pelourinho, the city’s UNESCO World Heritage–listed historic center, a cobblestoned corridor of pastel-colored 17th- and 18th-century colonial buildings and dignified churches awash in gold. Day or night, Pelourinho is teeming with life, from cultural centers and schools of music and dance to capoeira circles and lively bars and restaurants. The word pelourinho means pillory or whipping post (where slaves were punished). The most famous of these whipping posts was located at picturesque Largo do Pelourinho, a steeply slanted, triangle-shaped plaza that forms the heart of the neighborhood; it is Salvador’s most photographed hotspot.

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