Basement of the Modelo Market

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In the porão (basement) of the Mercado Modelo in the Cidade Baixa area of Salvador, lies the senzala (slave quarters) where slaves, brought to Colonial Bahia from Africa, were chained to the walls until being sold. The Mercado Modelo, being the city’s third Customs House, had an area reserved for receiving shipments arriving from the open seas. One of the serious problems that faced the slaves was the fact that the porão lies below sea level and therefore would, from time to time, fill up with water and take many lives. These days, the area is open to visitation and offers raised slabs of concrete which allow the visitor to tour the basement even when the tide is high. Watching the short clip below, it’s easy to imagine the lights being lanterns and the sounds in the dead of the night being frightening for those that were held captive there.

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2 thoughts on “Basement of the Modelo Market

  1. Pingback: Articles from the other Eyes On « Eyes On Brazil

  2. I went there today–just shopping, when a Bahian friend of mine me downstairs. I started to follow and they looked down the curved french iron stairs and saw water, abandoness, darkness and brickwalls…and I said, ‘No! Where are you going? I am not coming down there!” He insisted calling from the bottom of the stairs; I cautiously and fearfully followed. Then he told me, “This is where the salved to Salvador from Africa were held… I beheld the maze of chambers, the cold concrete walls, the darkness, dampness, water all around and the lack of ventilation and I was speechless! Taking out my camera, as if I was a journalist who happened unto an unbelieveable scene, I walked the cambers, using concrete slabs laid for visitors throughout the maze of chambers–in awe, pain, anger, disbelief and wonderment. I was crying inside, I did not speak but to take pictures and listened to the history I was being told. I was the snap picture of the tunnel that lead to the sea, the pump that kept the dungen from being filled with water, the indian statue, the walls, the water… I am still in shock…why didn’t I see this on many previous trips to Salvador? It tells the story of many blacks and those of black origins in Brazil today and specifically those in Bahia.

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