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Mercado Modelo Salvador: how to visit

Post updated on 12/30/2021

How to visit the Mercado Modelo Salvador
Located at downtown Salvador, the Mercado Modelo is one of the postcards of the Bahian capital. He is between the Lacerda’s elevator and the Bahia de Todos os Santos and has become an obligatory stop for anyone visiting the city.

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There is a little bit of everything there: handicrafts of the most varied types (magnets, mugs, picture frames, Senhor do Bonfim ribbons, key chains and the like), souvenirs, clothes, lace, sarongs, bags, hats, pictures, berimbaus, ornaments, statues, images of saints, jewelry, woodcuts, hammocks…

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In short, a plethora of products.

Salvador Model Market

Salvador Model Market

Things to do in Salvador (Bahia) - Mercado Modelo
Things to do in Salvador (Bahia) – Mercado Modelo

But those who think they stop there are wrong: there is still room for food and drinks in restaurants, cafeterias and bars.

In all, there are two floors and more than 260 boxes.

And in addition to box-shops, restaurants and snack bars, Mercado Modelo, considered the largest handicraft mall in Brazil, also has an Information and Tourist Police Office, a Post Office, an ATM, restrooms and a barber shop.

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To accommodate all this, just the 8410 square meters of the old historic building dating from 1861 in which the Market was installed.

The building was designed by the Polish architect André Przewpdoswski and built to be used as the third customs house in Salvador.

It has neoclassical architecture and is listed by the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute (IPHAN).

It is said that Dom Pedro II inaugurated the work on the customs house before it was completed in 1861.

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Things to do in Salvador (Bahia) - Mercado Modelo
Salvador Modelo Market aisles
Things to do in Salvador (Bahia) - Mercado Modelo
Model Market in Salvador

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Other spaces in Mercado Modelo Salvador

In addition to the visible part, the site also has underground tunnels that can be visited. At the time it functioned as customs, the basement (built in a structure made of stone arches) was used to store products that needed to be kept out of the heat, such as wines.

We, unfortunately, did not know of the existence of the place and we missed the opportunity to get to know this other part of the Mercado Modelo in Salvador. Next time maybe.

Despite this, after our return, we discovered amidst the stories about the market that these tunnels are the scene of countless legends. It is said that slaves were “kept” there, waiting to be sold. And that to this day some people hear the noise of their chains.


True or not, the fact is that the Salvador Model Market holds many stories, some of them tragic and overcoming.

That’s because, since it opened in 1912, it suffered several fires (five in total) in the years 1917, 1922, 1943, 1969 in 1984. And even so, on all occasions, it managed to rebuild itself.

Until 1971, it operated where today is the Monument to the People of Bahiaa sculpture by the artist Mário Cravo, located in front of the current address.

Update: in 2019, the monument caught fire and was completely destroyed.

At the time, the Market was the main supply center in the city, selling all kinds of products, from fruits, vegetables, cigars, fish, among other items.

Things to do in Salvador (Bahia) - Fonte da Rampa do Mercado - Monument to the People of Bahia
Fountain at Rampa do Mercado – Monument to the People of Bahia
Things to do in Salvador (Bahia) - Fonte da Rampa do Mercado - Monument to the People of Bahia
Monument to the People of Bahia – Fonte da Rampa do Mercado

Of all the fires, the worst was the one that happened in 1969, destroying the entire building and forcing those responsible to transfer the Market to its current address, the former customs house, in 1971.

But even in this place, the Market still went through the fifth sinister in its history in the year 1984, when the merchants lost everything again.

Things to do in Salvador (Bahia)
Salvador Model Market

The visit to the Mercado Modelo in Salvador

Depending on your consumer profile, a visit to the Mercado Modelo in Salvador may take longer or less. Mom madly loves shopping and we were there for around an hour.

It was a short time, as we were returning from a walk to the Praia do Forte and it was already five o’clock in the afternoon. That day, a Saturday, as the movement was weak, the Market closed its doors at 6 pm.

But, to be honest, despite the amount of boxes and products available, everything was very similar and the prices weren’t so inviting.

We were able to buy souvenirs in Pelourinho stores with better prices.

See what to do in Pelourinho.

Things to do in Salvador (Bahia)
Things to do in Salvador (Bahia) – Mercado Modelo

In addition to the prices being expensive, the surrounding market is a bit unkempt and apparently dangerous.

You have to be careful, as street vendors insist on selling ribbons, necklaces and other objects and even follow tourists to the entrance to the Market. This happened to us.

Things to do in Salvador (Bahia) - Elevador Lacerda
Lacerda Elevator in Salvador

Salvador Model Market

It works: Monday to Saturday – from 9 am to 7 pm | Sunday and public holidays – from 9 am to 2 pm (restaurants until 4 pm)
Address: Visc Square. from Cayru, s/n – Lower City
Telephone: +55 71 98701-7013
Value: free

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