Fado history Mouraria Lisbon: a passionate liaison & first Fado singer Maria Severa

Historic area Mouraria contains a tangled street layout just as in Alfama, which has remained since the times of the Moors.

Mouraria Historical Center typical lley

Mouraria, Lisbon, one of Lisbon’s oldest districts.

The Arabs withdrew into this quarter after Lisbon was conquered by the Portuguese – a ghetto for people of different faiths arose. In the 19th C. prostitution and fado, which at this time was considered to be indecent, brought the quarter a bad name.

Mouraria Lisbon: Escadinhas de São Cristóvão. How to get there

Nowadays renovation of houses, which are threatened with falling into ruins, and an improvement in the living standards of the inhabitants of Mouraria has only begun recently. The area is full of typical grocery stores, old bars (taverna’s) and cheap (but good!) small restaurants.

Looking for a vacation stay in Lisbon? My Three bedroom apartment with sunny pátio (30 m2) in Mouraria – (short term rentals).

Mouraria historical center fado Rua da Severa

Largo da Severa’ Lisbon in area Mouraria.


It is said that the melancholic sounds of the music and singing of the Moorish people was at the base of fado music. The quarter is still today associated with fado: The ‘Casa de Severa’ at Largo da Severa 2 was the home of the legendary fadista Maria Severa Onofriando, who died at age 26 on November 30, 1846, either from suicide or tuberculosis.

Famous performer of fado Amália Rodrigues (”Lady of Lisbon”) the ‘queen of Fado’ was born near Mouraria on Rua Martim Faz.

Mouraria historical center fado plaque

(‘Mouraria, sculpture Berço do Fado‘, fado was born here)

Rua da Mouraria/ corner Rua do Capelão. Maria Severa is regarded as the first fado singer to have risen to fame, attaining a near-mythical status after her death: Maria had a passionate liaison with a nobleman, Conde de Vimioso. The affair ended badly. But the scandal increased fado’s appeal, leading to the publication of its first sheet music.

Fado Maria Severa painting

Famous painting Maria da Severa, regarded as the first fado singer

Fadistas, as fado singers are known, often wear a black shawl of mourning, as Severa did after her heartbreak. Her story epitomizes fado’s connection with saudade, “a feeling of longing or nostalgia”.

Mouraria Historical Center house Maria Severa fado singer

Fadista Maria da Severa’s house

UPDATE 2014:

Maria da Severa’s house is beautifully remodeled, you can enjoy pure fado here and traditional Portuguese food

There is a plaque in Maria Severa’s memory and a stylized fado guitar can be seen on the newly surfaced road where she lived. The memory of the singer is also kept alive in the pub called “Os Amigos da Severa” (the Friends of Severa) in the nearby Rua do Capelao , with a painting of her hanging on the wall.

Mouraria Fado Friends of Maria Severa

Cafe “Os Amigos da Severa” (the Friends of Severa) Mouraria Lisbon

Rua do Capelao 32, owner senhor Antonio Correia Alves Pais

Walk with friends Ans and Loek in Mouraria: a sua saúde ! Picture: Loek Polack

More about this remarkable little bar.

15 Replies to “Fado history Mouraria Lisbon: a passionate liaison & first Fado singer Maria Severa”

  1. Does anyone know the name of the Portuguese supermarket in Martin moniz?? It has great Portuguese meats,salmis,and the after mainly cuts the meats and his beautiful daughter runs the cheese and cold cuts area in the back,next door is a pasterella with fresh breads and coffee along with nice pastries it mostly a stand up place with limited seating.its not fancy.I lived there two years ago and can’t remember or find the name of it .its not pesca dolce,anyone can help me????thanks a lot,nick

  2. Across the street from the subway in martim moniz is a store that sells many beach items,towels,flip flops and many more. For those looking for monthly rentals the store owner roseida has many very small apts available two apartment locations I lived in the apartment building at 79 terhierho street apt nine third floor. It has a very small living area but has a large fridge,area for the cooking with stove top burners,private bathroom and comfortable bed.
    Close walking to city square supermarket just down a steep cobble stone street. Oh washer is in the building.great price I had help from a local that did the talking I got it for $350 USDor 400 euros monthly.that was in july 2012.
    Please tell rosida I have the key to apt nine but want to mail it safely to her store
    Good luck and enjoy Portugal,if you respect the locals you’ll only help yourself
    Regards, niki

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