Museu Hansen Bahia
Near the Praça da Aclamação is the modest Museu Hansen Bahia (Rua 13 de Maio, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Tues.–Fri., 9 a.m.–2 p.m. Sat.–Sun., free) devoted to the expressive woodcuts and paintings of Hansen Bahia, a German engraver who fled Nazi Germany for Cachoeira (changing his last name along the way), and never looked back. There is a strong tradition of woodcarving in Cachoeira and as you explore the town you’ll come across studios of local artists whose work is characterized by strong African influences.
Also on Rua 13 de Maio is the coral-colored building that is the headquarters of the Irmandade da Boa Morte (10 a.m.–6 p.m. daily, contributions suggested). Inside, a small museum displays interesting photographs detailing the sisterhood’s history and traditions, including the famous Festa da Boa Morte.
From the museum, a steep ascent leads to the Praça da Ajuda, where you’ll come face-to-face with the Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Ajuda, a simple stone church built in the 1590s, which happens to be Cachoeira’s oldest (sadly, it can’t be visited). Descending an equally steep alley in the other direction will bring you to Rua Ana Nery, where you can visit the 17th-century Igreja Matriz Nossa Senhora do Rosário, renowned for its wonderful blue-and-white ceramic tile panels, the largest outside of Portugal.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition