The Low-Down on Alfama – The Oldest Neighborhood in Lisbon

The Low-Down on Alfama – The Oldest Neighborhood in Lisbon

The Oldest Neighborhood in Lisbon

If you find yourself in Lisbon and get to spend some time in this marvelous city, it will not be long before you find yourself weaving through the cobbled streets of Alfama and it will be even sooner until you are swept off your feet by the most remarkable and unique charm of this lovely part of Lisbon. In our series of articles by the title of “The Low-Down on Alfama” we will talk about this utterly charming Lisbon neighborhood and all the magic it has to offer to its visitors.

The Oldest Neighborhood in Lisbon

Alfama has earned its title of being the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon by being the only survivor of the great earthquake and the subsequent tsunami that have nearly destroyed the city in 1755. These great disasters, by some miracle, spared Alfama and left its labyrinth web of tiny streets, where long-time locals live in a tight-knit community, intact. Today, Alfama is regarded as the birthplace of Fado – the traditional Portuguese music in the form of passionate laments of longing passed down orally through generations since the 1820’s – and numerous bars and restaurants in this part of town offer nightly live Fado performance. Every June, the sizzling of freshly grilled sardines fills up the many secret squares in Alfama, as jugs or wine are shared at communal tables in the shade of orange trees, as the whole city of Lisbon descends into this tiny pocket of the city to celebrate Santo Antonio, who is revered by the Portuguese as the true patron saint of Lisbon
While the resolute charm of Alfama is no secret in any way, in order to allow yourself to fully experience the beauty of this neighborhood, you need to allow yourself to get lost in it.
Instead of sticking to the tourist areas, which are usually bustling with other tourists just like you crowding to take pictures from some of many striking viewpoints in this neighborhood, you can allow yourself to stray a little off the beaten path, and like walking through a magic door, you will find yourself in tiny squares and corners where locals gossip over washing, and where you can truly discover a picture-perfect vignette of traditional Lisbon as it stands isolated and quiet, but firm, against the ever-growing popularity and modernization of the city.

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