Tamar Project and Garcia D 'Ávila Castle

Praia do Forte - Bahia

Everyone knows that I like to visit those little places that only the "locals" know, but it's impossible to go to Praia do Forte and not go to both the Tamar Project regarding Garcia D'Ávila castletwo incredible places, even more so with the information given masterfully by Daniel on the guided tour of the Carcará EcoTours.

Right from the start, he was very friendly, making us as comfortable as possible, talking about all the details and history of the region, always giving us extra tips that went beyond the places he introduced us to.

He picked us up at the hotel and we began a day full of culture and cool things. The first stop was at Praça São Francisco, which gets its name from the little church of São Francisco, the city's patron saint.

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The church was built in 1900 by the fishermen themselves and stands in front of Praia do Porto, where there are lots of little boats that add to the charm of the landscape. It's also where you'll find a craft market, a great place to find gifts. I really liked a little papier mâché turtle and ended up bringing two home.

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After a short briefing from Daniel about the attractions we would be seeing, we headed to the famous Sea Turtle Project (TAMAR). Conceived by oceanography students in the 1970s, it only came to fruition in 1980, with the first installation in Sergipe. The Praia do Forte headquarters was only opened to visitors in 1982, with the main objective of protecting and conserving marine fauna, with an emphasis on turtles, but without neglecting other animals such as rays, sharks and moray eels.

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Today Tamar Project has a great representation in the awareness and preservation of various species, spread all over the Brazilian coastline. For visitors to understand a little more, the structure is interesting and has several aquariums and information, a real lesson! You can even touch different types of turtle shells and see skeletons up close. It's not necessary to take the tour with a guide, but it's certainly recommended, as it adds a lot more information, for example:

- Did you know that turtles return to the beach where they were born to lay their eggs? Even after 20 or 30 years roaming the seas, it knows exactly where it came from and returns to its origins! Bizarre, right? They come with state-of-the-art GPS...lol

O Tamar Project is one of Bahia's main tourist attractions. Even if you're staying in Salvador, you can take the tour, as it's only 60 km from the Bahian capital, and much of Praia do Forte's fame is due to it, which is also another well-known place and a must-see for those who visit Salvador.

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It's very quiet and easy to do with children and even babies. There are clean toilets, a place to buy snacks, a souvenir store and a great structure with shaded benches for possible pit stops - I stopped at one of them to breastfeed. If you're taking your little one, I suggest using a kangaroo or sling, as the ground is sandy and can interfere with the wheel of the stroller.

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We left there and went straight to the Garcia D'Ávila CastleThe castle isn't in the center of Praia do Forte, but it's very close and we were there in less than 10 minutes.

Have you ever heard of it? Yeah, me neither! But it's an extremely important piece of our country's history that has been somewhat forgotten. Garcia D'Ávila Castle or Casa da Torre, as it is also known, was the first major Portuguese building of military residential architecture in Brazil. Its construction began in 1551 with the chapel of São Pedro dos Rates, today known as the chapel of Todos os Santos. It is also the only building with medieval features in our country and was only completed in 1624. The total territory was 800,000 km², which corresponds to a tenth of Brazil's territory, making it the largest latifundia in the world! These lands were given to Garcia D'Ávila in 1949 by the first governor general of Brazil, Tomé de Souza, who, according to bad language, was his father.

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The castle was strategically positioned on the highest part of the northern coast of Bahia, where it would be easier to spot enemy ships and warn Salvador in advance who was coming, but how did they do this? By smoke signals. There were a total of three lighthouses. As soon as they spotted a ship, they sent out a smoke signal, which was seen by the other lighthouse, which sent out the same signal until it reached the Barra Lighthouse in Salvador, which could be better prepared to counterattack. It was very useful for fighting the French and Dutch in particular.

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The D'Ávila's were also responsible for introducing the coconut to Brazil, I didn't know that either, but the coconut isn't Brazilian but was brought over in the holds of the D'Ávila's ships, they were also the first to grow cattle here, they ended up being more visionary than anyone else and being a key part of our history, which I didn't know myself.

The D'Ávila family stayed in their castle until 1835, when the place was simply abandoned and so today only ruins remain, making it very difficult to analyze where the rooms, bedrooms and so on really were.

The building was listed in 1938 by IPHAN and was only restored in 1980. Garcia D'Ávila Historical ParkWe missed a lot of the story.

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There is an area that shows a little of this reconstruction, a model of what you imagine the Castle looked like, as well as a collection of Portuguese crockery that was found on the grounds, but if you're lucky, like me! Lol You can still find a piece of Portuguese crockery stuck to the ground, I managed to see one right at the entrance and I thought it was amazing! Of course, I left it there for analysis, did I really find a relic?

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The place is beautiful and goes far beyond the castle. As soon as you walk along the road that leads to the castle, you come face to face with a huge, BEAUTIFUL fig tree. It's impossible not to stop and enjoy the place, with its delicious shade and wonderful atmosphere, especially on the second floor, where the windows are responsible for framing the beaches we can see in the background, the place is really incredible and despite being a cliché it's well worth a visit, super educational to go with children and even for adults to get to know a little more about the history of their country!

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Baby carriages are easy to carry on the second floor, but as there are two floors, it's best to carry your baby in a sling or kangaroo. The only thing you have to be careful of is the sun, which is very strong and there is only shade in the chapel or at the fig tree, where the baby ended up staying the longest during our tour.

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I really enjoyed the tour and even more having done it with Daniel from Carcará Ecotous who didn't miss a single detail.

And you? Did you already know this little piece of our history?

Don't forget to read Where to stay on the north coast of Bahia

Useful information:

Carcará Ecotours - Daniel Boucault

Cell: (71) 9647-5253 / (71) 9100-4475 / (71) 8231-0123

E-mail: dboucault@gmail.com

Skype: Daniel.Boucault

Tamar Project

Av. Farol Garcia D'Ávila, s/n

Tel: (71) 3676-0321 / (71) 3676-1045

E-mail : centrodevisitantes@tamar.org.br

Daily, from 08:30 to 17:30

Value 18 reais.

Garcia D'Ávila Castle

Alameda do Farol, s/n - Praia do Forte

Tel: (71) 3676-1133

E-mail: Sapiranga@fgd.org.br

*Prices for the month of May 2015

Be sure to read

Adventure tourism in Praia do Forte
Where to stay in Praia do Forte

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