Built in 1625, the Santa Maria and São Diogo fortresses stand side by side on the Barra waterfront. Since 2017, they have hosted permanent exhibitions in honor of two foreigners with a deep connection to Afro-Brazilian culture who called Bahia home and were friends for five decades: French photographer and anthropologist Pierre Verger (1902-1996) and Argentine artist Hector Julio Páride Bernabó (1911- 1997), or Carybé.
The Espaço Pierre Verger da Fotografia Baiana, located in the Santa Maria Fortress, houses around 4000 photographs grouped into six themes: portraits, urban landscapes, Afro-Brazilian worship, the Bahia interior, everyday scenes and contemporary photography. 800 of them are by Verger and the rest by 56 photographers who were either born or live in the state, such as Bauer Sá and João Machado. At the Espaço Carybé de Artes, in the São Diogo Fortress, visitors can view 300 works by the artist, who also practiced capoeira and was a filho de santo of the candomblé terreiro of Ilê Axé Opô Afonjá, in Salvador.
To overcome limited space, exhibits use technological resources such as projectors, interactive screens and virtual reality glasses. At night, images from the collection are projected onto the exteriors of historic buildings.