Alfama

Visiting Alfama is to visit the architecture, the sounds and the smells of old Lisbon. This is one of the most typical Lisbon's quarters. On its narrow streets you'll find a the hidden treasure and on its steep stairs you will be able to breathe the soul of Lisbon. Alfama is one of the most emblematic quarters and one of the most rewarding for walkers and photographers thanks to its medieval alleys and outstanding views.

Because its foundation is dense bedrock, it survived to the 1755 earthquake, and a walk through this old-fashioned residential neighborhood is now a travel in time. It is a village within a city made of narrow streets, tiny squares, churches, and whitewashed houses with wrought-iron balconies decorated with pots of flowers, drying laundry, and singing birds.

It was settled by the Romans and Visigoths (it was also an important Jewish quarter in the 15th century), but it was the Moors who gave the district its atmosphere and name (alhama means springs or bath, a reference to the hot springs found in the area). They were also responsible for its web of streets created as a defense system, while at the same time enabling their homes to remain cool in the summer.

Alfama has influenced poets and novelists, and although Bairro Alto is the city's traditional Fado quarter, it is Alfama that has always been the inspiration for Fado songs, and is becoming just as popular with Fado Houses. The district has an intangible quality that needs to be experienced to be truly appreciated, and the best way to get to know it is to get a little lost (something almost impossible to avoid), and wander around admiring the postcard-perfect views, visiting the churches, and walking up to the castle for the most breathtaking panorama of the city and the greatest sunsets.

Contrasting with these timeless images is a trendy modern development by the waterfront across from Santa Apolónia railway station. It houses stylish design shops, restaurants, and one of Europe's top clubs: "Lux."

 

   
     

 

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