Farol da Barra
Walking along the breezy seaside promenade—past small coves and the increasing number of hotels, gyms, cyber cafés, and bars that are turning Barra into a small-scale Copacabana—you’ll soon reach the iconic black-and-white striped Barra lighthouse.
Jutting out into the sea at the point where the Bay of All Saints meets the Atlantic, the Farol da Barra is lodged within the 17th-century Forte de Santo Antônio. Although the current lighthouse, constructed of iron, was built in 1836, the original wooden one—dating from 1696—operated using whale oil and was the first lighthouse in all of the Americas.
Inside the fort is the mildly interesting Museu Naútico da Bahia (tel. 71/3264-3296, 9 a.m.–7 p.m. Tues.–Sun., R$6), with a collection of maps, navigation instruments, model ships, and other seafaring paraphernalia. Just as interesting, if not more, is the secluded bar situated within the lighthouse’s sun-bleached walls. During the year, the Farol and surrounding area are the setting for various shows and concerts, the biggest of which occur on New Year’s Eve and Day.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition