Alfama: old Moorisch quarter in Lisbon & river viewpoint Portas do Sol

Alfama is certainly the most famous historic and oldest neighborhood in Lisbon, a narrowed maze of streets with many fado restaurants and pictoresque houses.

Alfama near Sao George Castle2

Lunch time in Alfama: Largo Contador Mor

Street close to the Castle of St George

Alfama Lisbon typical restaurant

Historical area Alfama, Lisbon

There are a lot of typical Portuguese restaurants.

The name Alfama originates from the Arabic El Hamma and means something like ‘fountains’ or ‘baths’. The area contains many important historical attractions.

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Historical area Alfama, Lisbon

Typical Portuguese is the hanging laundry in the windows, drying in the wind

Lisbon Alfama from viewpoint Portas do Sol

Alfama Lisbon viewpoint (miradouro) Portas do Sol by night

The Belvedere Portas do Sol is a balcony space that all people of Lisbon are proud to have at their disposal. Magnificent view of Lisbon and the typical Alfama district that spans several narrow, winding streets to the river Tagus

Alfama near Rua dos Bacalhoeiros

Historic area Alfama Lisbon Largo do Chafariz do Dentro,

Beautiful azulejos (tiles), close to the Fado Museum (Museu do Fado) ‘a must do’ for those who love Fado music as well as those with an interest in Portuguese culture and history. Near this square you’ll find a lot of small fado restaurants.

Alfama Lisbon street 26

Historical area Alfama, Lisbon

It’s still like a kasbah, this labyrinth of lanes (becos) paved with pebbles, tiny alleys, steps, arches, courtyards and small squares. Houses, shouldering each other, with tiles (azulejos) and wrought iron balconies with lazy cats, birds in cages and sometimes a sleeping dog….more…

Alfama drawing wall sardines music

Historical area Alfama, Lisbon

Sardines and music in LisbonFestas dos Santos Populares (Feast Days of the Popular Saints) in June & Santo Antonio (Saint Anthony)

Fado, knives & blood & artist Carlos Fernandez Mouraria Lisbon

Artist Carlos Fernandez was born and raised in Mouraria, a historic (old Moorish) down town area in Lisbon. Together with Alfama, the Mouraria area is a muddle of very narrow streets and small squares, which gives the visitor a glimpse of a forgotten age.

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Mouraria, Lisbon: nostalgic drawing by Carlos Fernandez

Carlos Fernandez earns his bread as a tattoo artist (tattoos are very popular in the neighborhood), and besides he loves it to create nostalgic drawings about the typical characteristics, traditions, history and culture about the 900 years neighborhood Mouraria in Lisbon, such as the Fado guitar and Fado singers.

fado-maria-severa-cafe Mouraria painting

Legendary Fado singer Maria Severa

Maria Severa, the first Fadista , who died at age 26 in1846, either from suicide or tuberculosis, was born in this area. A very sad story! Famous performer of Fado Amália Rodrigues (”Lady of Lisbon”) the ‘queen of Fado’ , was born near Mouraria , Rua Martim Faz. No neighborhood in Lisbon is praised more in Fado music than Mouraria.

Carlos Fernandez artist Mouraria Lisbon 2

Carlos Fernandez

Historical area Mouraria exists 900 years, and together with Alfama Lisbon’s oldest neighborhoods of great historical value.

Carlos Fernandez: “In the past there were many fights between the two areas: the sailors who lived in Alfama and the gangs of Mouraria were fighting against each other. My drawings are about ‘nostalgia’, and they are my interpretation of the neighborhood, such as prostitution (putas), drugs, bullfighting, card playing, fishermen and fishwives (pescadores e varinhas) and selling newspapers on the street”.

Mouraria in June Santo Antonio guirlandes

Mouraria in June, (Feast Days of the Popular Saints)

Carlos: ” And of course football (Benfica/Sporting), chestnuts (castanhas, in yellow papers), the vintage yellow trams in Lisbon (eléctrico), Feira da Ladra (litt. thieves market), the 25 April revolution, pickpocketing, cheap wine like bull’s blood (Sangue de touro), hanging laundry, cats on the roofs, birds in cages and traditions like Santo Antonio in June and eating sardines (sardinhas)”.

Carlos Fernandez artist Mouraria Lisbon 3 tram 28 electrico

‘Old tram 28’ (eléctrico), nowadays a very popular tourist attraction, drawing by Carlos Fernandez

The legendary tram 28 is a tourist attraction in itself. It goes all around town. You can hop on and hop off. A ride with ‘eléctrico’ tram 28 will bring you to most historical attractions in Lisbon. Besides: tram 28 is increasingly as popular with pickpockets as it is with tourists.

Carlos Fernandez artist Mouraria Lisbon 4

Drawing Carlos Fernandez: ‘Mouraria’

In June, the month of the Festas dos Santos Populares (Feast Days of the Popular Saints), the Lisbon nights are filled with lively festivities, parades and live music that take over the city’s historical center, and of course it’s party time in Mouraria!.

Carlos Fernandez artist Mouraria Lisbon exposition Santo Antonio recycled plastic

Santo Antonio, the Saint of true love… This beautiful one is made from recycled material

The main Saints’ days are for Anthony (Santo Antonio June 12-13), John (June 23-24) and Peter (June 28-29). Traditionally millions of big and tasty sardines (sardinhas), accompanied by traditional bread, are grilled in the month of June, high season for this delicious silvery fish. Even the yellow trams are decorated with sardines!

Mouraria Lisbon old yellow tram santo antonio sardines

Mouraria in June: Fado performances in old yellow trams decorated with sardines.

Looking for a short time rental apartment in Lisbon? Please check the calendar of my Authentic apartment for rent in this 900 years old area of Lisbon

Lisbon’s craziest night is June 12, eve of Saint Anthony day , Lisbon turns into one big party. People are dancing in the streets on Pimba music – a term used for a variety of popular Portuguese folk solo singers and bands whose songs are frequently driven by metaphors with sexual meaning.

Carlos Fernandez artist Mouraria Lisbon exposition viewpoint Santa Luzia

Exposition Carlos Fernandez, Santa Luzia, Lisbon. The municipality of Lisbon owns this building

An exposition was held in this beautiful small building near the Tagus River: ‘Fado, Knives and Blood’ (‘Fado, Navalhas e Sangue’).

If you are interested to see more of Carlos’ work (and prices), you can send him an email: fadonavalhasesangue@gmail.com

Carlos Fernandez artist exposition Santa Luzia Lisbon

Tourists are interested to see the exposition, Santa Luzia

Besides: Santa Luzia is a very popular and historical viewpoint (miradouro) in Lisbon, next to viewpoint Portas do Sol. Amazing views overlooking the Alfama rooftops and the river Tagus!

Traditional Fado Vadio Lisbon: taverna ‘Tasca do Jaime’ & black shawl of mourning

UPDATE 2015

Enjoy the real fado while munching on freshly-fried cod pastries in the late afternoon in Tasca do Jaime, one of the most intriguing of Lisbon’s ‘tavernas’. Traditionally, the Fado houses are popular and a meeting spot for families and friends. Close to Lisbon’s legendary flea market ‘Feira da Ladra’

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‘Tasca do Jaime’ taverna Lisbon: real fado music

You won’t always find the best fadistas, but don’t let that scare you off. This is real traditional fado, out of the tourist circle, where the fado singers can enter spontaneously and improvise.

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‘Tasca do Jaime’ taverna Lisbon, Saturday afternoon

As soon as somebody gets up to sing the audience stops talking and all the attention is on the singer. The Portuguese have a lot of respect for the performers and it is of utmost importance that the singers can concentrate and express their emotions in their singing. When the song is about to finish the audience starts applauding and cheering.

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‘Tasca do Jaime’ taverna Lisbon

Fado Vadio on Saturdays, Sundays and public Holidays from 16:00 to 20:00, Rua da Graça 91, Lisbon.

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‘Tasca do Jaime’ taverna Lisbon

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