An eclectic mixture of baroque, rococo, and neoclassical styles, the 17th-century Catedral Basílica (Terreiro de Jesus, tel. 71/3321-4573, 8 a.m.–11 a.m. and 3–6 p.m. Tues.–Sat., 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Sun., R$3) was built out of sandstone, shipped in blocks from Portugal, before undergoing reconstruction after an early-20th-century fire.
Its recently restored magnificent interior is a testament to the riches of Portugal’s overseas colonies. The 16th-century ceramic tiles in the sacristy hails from Macau, while the delicate ivory and tortoise shell inlay in one altar (third on the right from the entrance) is from Goa.
Other precious materials used that adorn the interior include marble, jacaranda, and lots and lots of gold leaf—the altars and ceiling are completely slathered in it.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition