A Alfama da Lisboa Bairrista



Being from Portugal and having lived in Lisbon for the past three years it feels only right that I don't treat this as any other city guide. I am going to write about the city I chose to call mine in a very special and different way. I am going to talk about Lisbon as the city full of history and full of stories that it is. My goal is not only to show you how beautiful the city is but to tell you how much there is to know.
 Please keep in mind I am not from Lisbon and in a way, I am a tourist like anyone who is just visiting, so I may commit mistakes and I don't know as much as a TukTuk driver or a city guide, but I am going to do my best to share with you a bit of the history of the city. 



While I write this post I play Amália Rodrigues in the background. I couldn't do it in any other way, I grew up listening to fado and Alfama is the place where it was born and where it thrives here in Lisbon.  
I could talk about specific places like the Igreja de Santo Estevão, the Portas do Sol Viewpoint or the Feira da Ladra, but Alfama is much more than that.
Alfama is like a getting inside a child storybook, filled with colours and stories to find out, music and typical characters. Alfama is considered by many the heart of Lisbon, and maybe that's because it's easy to get lost between the narrow streets and alleys that are part of the neighbourhood, everything looks unique, yet the same, it's cohesive, typical and it has a proper soul. You won't see in Alfama what you see around other neighbourhoods in Lisbon, and that is what makes it so special.


There are multiple Casas de Fado, little restaurants where you can try some great Portuguese food and listen to fadistas (singers of Fado) play live. I've been to one once and it was a truly amazing experience, the respect for the music, mixed with the food, the wine and the very feel of the Lisboa Bairrista that many travel the world to see works perfectly. It's an experience that I would recommend to anyone wanting to learn more about fado and the Portuguese tradition as a whole.



You will see in Alfama that there are clothes drying outside the houses in the clotheslines, something that only contributes by adding colour to the pallet, flower pots, and old ladies selling ginginha d'Óbidos. You will sell the barbeques were you will find sardinha assada, chouriça assada  and many other Portuguese dishes. You will listen to the fado that comes out of the stores, Casas de fado, and from the street itself, either from a CD or from a singer, always joined by the beautiful sound of the Portuguese guitar. 



Alfama is a neighbourhood located between Graça (another typical neighbourhood of Lisbon) and Praça do Comércio, you can get there by taking the tube to Santa Apolónia and just climbing up the hill, but if you get off at the Terreiro do Paço tube station you are a 10 minute walk away, you will pass by Museu do Fado (I know you must be done with fado by now). You can also visit the Panteão Nacional where are buried a few of the most distinguished Portuguese personalities, such as Amália Rodriges, Eusério, Almeida Garrett, Sophia de Mello Breyner and a few others, from politicians to writers, and other important cultural figures that spread the Portuguese culture around the world. 


This is for sure a place that must be part of your travel plans, regardless of how long you are visiting for. Whenever I used to picture Lisbon when I was a kid Alfama was always on my thoughts, either because of Fado, Santos Populares or simply because it's such an iconic place. It's one of those places that truly make me feel like I am experiencing something unique that I wouldn't be able to see anywhere else in the world.
I hope I inspired you not only to visit this neighbourhood but also to learn a bit more about it, to look at it with other eyes rather than simply looking at it's instagramable colours. To look at it with the sad eyes of fado, the promising eyes we looked at the sea, look for history and for stories, for songs and for pregões. Try to understand the city while visiting it, instead of simply looking at it as an outsider. 


Location: Alfama, Lisbon, Portugal

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