Historic area Mouraria contains a tangled street layout just as in Alfama, which has remained since the times of the Moors.
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.
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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, 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.
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”.
Fadista Maria da Severa’s house
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.
Rua do Capelao 32, owner senhor Antonio Correia Alves Pais
Walk with friends Ans and Loek in Mouraria: a sua saúde ! Picture: Loek Polack