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Salvador was the first capital of Brazil, founded by the Portuguese in the 16th century.While that title now belongs to Brasilia, Salvador remains the capital of the vast coastal state of Bahia and is also the nation's Afro-Brazilian hub, a relic of its days as a centre of the slave trade; it was here that captives would arrive from West Africa.

I hail a taxi and head about 10km south, back to the Atlantic waterfront to the bohemian Rio Vermelho district, once home to renowned local writer Jorge Amado, where today you'll find some of the city's most popular bars and restaurants.

It's here where the Festa da Yemanja takes place in February, an important celebration in the Camdomble religion, celebrating Yemenja, goddess of the sea.

Its very unlike that you will be in risk of murdered or something like that.

If you can do that this will end up being really safe.

From the Yacht Club I take a taxi to the newly renovated Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova (br).

The stadium is the beating heart of Salvador and is home to Bahia football club; it will feature in next year's World Cup and will host games during the 2016 Olympics.

The name is African, short for Oludumare, which in the religious ritual of Candomble means "god of gods".

The band – a cultural and civil rights group that also featured in the Michael Jackson video – stands at the top of Pelourinho Square and beats large drums which hang from their waists, each moving rhythmically on the spot.

Opposite is the Dique do Tororo lake with its circle of bronze sculptures of orixas – spirits of the local Afro-Brazilian Candomble religion that originated here during the slave trade and is still practised today.

It's a short walk north-west, along Ladeira Fonte das Pedras and left up Rua da Poeira, from the stadium to the Unesco-protected historic neighbourhood of Pelourinho – nicknamed Pelo.

The area is filling up; happy hour is early and long-running in Rio Vermelho.