Alfama with Portuguese stone design by fado singer Amálida Rodrigues

Alfama with Portuguese stone design by fado singer Amálida Rodrigues

Alfama

Alfama is the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon, and the second oldest in Europe. Alfama is a neighborhood where you can return to Lisbon of the Middle Ages and, at the same time, feel the modernity that accompanies the Portuguese capital. Located on a hill facing the Tagus River in Lisbon, from the Alfama neighborhood we can see the roofs of Lisbon arranged in an amphitheater, over the Tagus River and over the south bank of Lisbon. Alfama is located in the historic center of Lisbon, bordering the neighborhood of Graça, Mouraria, Castelo and Baixa. Alfama is close to Lisbon’s luxury Avenida da Liberdade, cosmopolitan Chiado and bohemian Bairro Alto.

Roofs of houses in Alfama with views of the church and the pantheon on the horizon

Roofs of houses in Alfama with views of the church and the pantheon on the horizon

Alfama maintains the narrow, winding, labyrinthine streets with alleys and alleys. Here, it is possible to see the clothes hanging on the windows, people talking loudly from one window to the other as if they were in a small village, watching the doors of the houses open during the day and listening to fado in the middle of the Street.

Fado restaurants in Alfama with outdoor terraces

Fado restaurants in Alfama with outdoor terraces

Alfama is one of the places where fado came into being, being very popular due to the numerous fado houses. It is a tradition for fado singers to gather in the street to sing during the summer, providing a unique environment for those who visit the neighborhood. Alfama is a calm, peaceful and safe place during the day, where groups of tourists pass by the fado houses and restaurants, places where it is possible to taste the much appreciated traditional Portuguese cuisine. One of the highlights of Alfama happens in June during the Festa das Cidade. The Alfama neighborhood is filled with thousands of people from all nations who gather in the streets, where they live together until dawn. Alfama is a safe place that provides excellent spaces for fun, rest, and tourism for visitors who come from all over the world to visit the neighborhood. At night, Alfama becomes a popular place due to the large number of restaurants.

Fado became famous when Conde de Vimioso began to promote in the Portuguese Court with the creation of shows by Maria Severa Onofriana (1820-1846), recognized as the first fado singer. With the emergence of Amália Rodrigues, fado gained more notoriety and was recognized internationally, when Amália Rodrigues achieved an international career, the first time for a Portuguese artist. Some of the best known fadistas today are from Alfama, namely Ricardo Ribeiro and Raquel Tavares or Artur Batalha. Fado has been classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 2011.

Explore Alfama

The best way to visit Alfama is by walking through the streets, however Tram 28 is an excellent alternative to get here. The Tram 28 route starts at Praça do Martim Moniz and ends in Campo de Ourique, passing through some of the main points of interest of the city, namely the Alfama district, Nossa Senhora do Monte viewpoint, Graça viewpoint, Sé Catedral de Lisbon, Praça do Comércio, Rua Garrett, Praça Luís de Camões, Miradouro de Santa Catarina, Basilica da Estrela, Jardim da Estrela, Campo de Ourique Market, Cemitério dos Prazeres or the Church of Santo Condestável in Campo de Ourique. The first trip starts at 6 am and ends after 11 pm, every day of the year. The Tram 28 line has 50 trams available, each with a capacity for 20 seated and 38 standing passengers. Line 28 was created in 1914 and is currently one of the symbols and one of the main tourist attractions in Lisbon.

Atrações a visitar em Alfama (top 10)

  1. National Pantheon: The National Pantheon is part of the Church of Santa Engrácia, located in Campo de Santa Clara. It is a building dedicated to the memory of illustrious people, a place where their remains are deposited. The current church began to be built in 1632 during the Reign of Philip III under the guidance of the architect Mateus Couto, having taken approximately 350 years to be built. The Church of Santa Engrácia performed several functions since the extinction of the Religious Orders in 1834, namely, barracks of the Second Battalion of the National Guard of Lisbon, armament factory, and shoe production workshops. The Igreja de Santa Engrácia was classified as a National Pantheon in 1916, having undergone profound changes in the 1950s with the intervention of several architects, namely António Lino, Joaquim Areal e Silva, Raúl Lino and Luís Amoroso Lopes. The National Pantheon was inaugurated in 1966 on the Fortieth Anniversary of the Estado Novo with the definitive construction of the reinforced concrete dome by the architect Edgar Cardoso. The illustrious Portuguese who are buried in the National Pantheon are:
    • Manuel de Arriaga;
    • Teófilo Braga;
    • Sidónio Pais;
    • Óscar Carmona;
    • Almeida Garrett;
    • Aquilino Ribeiro;
    • Guerra Junqueiro;
    • João de Deus;
    • Amália Rodrigues;
    • Humberto Delgado;
    • Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen;
    • Eusébio da Silva Ferreira.
      The National Pantheon honors the following Portuguese personalities:
    • Luís Vaz de Camões;
    • Pedro Álvares Cabral;
    • Infante Dom Henrique;
    • Vasco da Gama;
    • Afonso de Albuquerque;
    • Dom Nuno Álvares Pereira.
      Other monuments in Portugal recognized as National Pantheons are the following:
    • Monastery of Santa Cruz de Coimbra: where Dom Afonso Henriques and Dom Sancho I are buried;
    • Alcobaça Monastery: where Dom Afonso II, Dom Afonso III and Dom Pedro I are buried;
    • Batalha Monastery: where Dom João I and Dona Filipa de Lencastre, Dom Duarte and Dona Leonor de Aragão, Dom Afonso V, Dom João II are buried;
    • Jerónimos Monastery: where Dom Manuel I, Dom João III, Dom Sebastião and Cardinal Dom Henrique are buried;
    • Monastery of São Vicente de Fora: where Dom João IV and Dom Manuel II are buried, except for the tombs of Dom Pedro IV who is buried in the Petrópolis Cathedral in Brazil, and of Dona Maria I who is buried in the Basilica da Estrela
      Other monuments where Kings and Queens of Portugal are buried, however which are not recognized as National Pantheons are:
    • Odivelas Convent: Tomb of Dom Dinis;
    • Lisbon Cathedral: Tomb of Dom Afonso IV;
    • Museu do Carmo: Tomb of Dom Fernando I;
    • Catedral de Toledo em Espanha: local onde está enterrado Dom Sancho II.
      The word “pantheon” originates from the Latin “pantheon” which means “temple consecrated to the Gods”. The first Church of Santa Engrácia in Portugal was built in 1570 at the behest of Dona Maria, the last daughter of King Dom Manuel I and devotee of Santa Engrácia.
National Pantheon, a place where some of the old Portuguese personalities who somehow had recognition in society are buried

National Pantheon, a place where some of the old Portuguese personalities who somehow had recognition in society are buried

  1. Sé Catedral de Lisboa: The Sé Catedral de Lisboa is the most important church in the city of Lisbon, located in Largo da Sé. The Sé Catedral de Lisboa was inaugurated in 1150 in the Romanesque style under the guidance of Mestre Roberto. officially designated the Church of Santa Maria Maior by order of Dom Afonso Henriques and the target of several interventions over the centuries, which included the construction of the cloister between 1281 and 1319 during the Reign of Dom Dinis, the construction of the Capela de São Bartolomeu in 1324, the Capela Mor during the Reign of Dom Afonso IV, the Headboard, painting of the cloister of the Cathedral by Mestre Manuel André in 1569, the Chapter Room and the Treasury Room during the Reign of Dom João V, a construction of the clock in 1743 and reconstruction of the Cathedral after the 1755 Earthquake. The main highlights Lisbon Cathedral are:
    • Sacristy;
    • Chapel-Mor;
    • Tomb of Dom Afonso IV;
    • Fountain where Santo António was baptized in 1195;
    • Cloister;
    • Archaeological excavations over three thousand years old in the Gothic Cloister;
    • Nativity scene by Machado de Castro from 1766;
    • Royal Treasury that includes pieces such as the Custody of Dom José I;
    • Panoramic view over the Tagus River from the top of the tower.
Lisbon Cathedral, an icon of Lisbon postcards

Lisbon Cathedral, an icon of Lisbon postcards

  1. São Vicente de Fora Monastery: The São Vicente de Fora Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries in the city of Lisbon, having been built in thanks for the Conquest of Lisbon in 1147. The Monastery of São Vicente de Fora began to be built on November 21, 1147, having been consecrated to Nossa Senhora da Conceição da Enfermaria and São Vicente Mártir and handed over to the Order Regrante of Saint Augustine. The current monastery was built during the reign of Philip I (1527-1598) with the main architects Juan de Herrera (1530-1597), also responsible for the construction of the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial (1563-1584), Filippo Terzi ( 1520-1597), Baltazar Álvares (1560-1630), João Frederico Ludovice (1673-1752). The main points of interest of the São Vicente de Fora Monastery are:
    • Pantheon of the Bragança Dynasty: The Pantheon of the Bragança Dynasty began to be planned by Dom João V, having been completed only in 1932. The 1932 project was carried out by the architect Raul Lino with the objective of elaborating a tomb more worthy for King Dom Carlos
    • Facade with two towers: this construction was innovative, since the building of two towers in a church was exclusive to Cathedral Churches. The construction of the two towers in the Church influenced the building of other Christian temples throughout the country, namely the SÉ Nova in Coimbra (1598), the Igreja de São Lourenço (1690) in Porto or the Basilica da Estrela (1779) in Lisbon;
    • Cistern: it is the only remaining structure of the monastery ordered by Dom Afonso Henriques to be built. The cistern continues to function;
    • Largest collection of Baroque tiles in the world: The only structure that comes close is the Cloister of the Convent of São Francisco in Salvador da Bahia in Brazil;
    • Ordinance of the Monastery of São Vicente de Fora: highlight for the tile panel representations of episodes from the History of Portugal and of the various Kings of Portugal that contributed to the construction of the Monastery and to the ceiling painting by the Italian Vicenzo Baccarelli;
    • Cloister of the Monastery: the cloister of the Monastery of São Vicente was built in the 17th century and features 81 tile panels with approximately fifteen thousand tiles from the Reign of Dom João V
    • Chapel of Santo António: Chapel where Teresa Teixeira, the mother of Santo António, was buried;
    • Sacristy: The Sacristy was built by Dom João V and stands out for its opulence;
    • Capela dos Meninos de Palhavã: The Chapel bears this name because it was transferred from the Palhavã Palace in Lisbon, the current Spanish embassy. In the Chapel, the bastard children of Dom João V are buried
    • Tile panels with the Fables of La Fontaine: The Fables of La Fontaine are represented in a total of 38 tiles of the 18th century;
    • Torre da Igreja: The Torre da Igreja is a privileged place to observe Lisbon, the Tagus River and the Serra da Arrábida;
    • Organ: The Organ of the Monastery of São Vicente de Fora was built in 1765 by João Fontanes de Maqueira. The organ has more than three thousand tubes distributed over two keyboards and sixty registers. The organ of the Monastery of São Vicente de Fora is one of the largest organs in Portugal
      São Vicente was a deacon in Zaragoza and one of the Hispanic martyrs and, according to legend, was exposed to an extraordinary torture that led to his death on January 22, 304. São Vicente was eventually buried in a cemetery in Valencia and transferred to Cabo de São Vicente, in the Algarve, after the Muslim invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. Dom Afonso Henriques decided to send a fleet to Cabo de São Vicente to rescue the body and the relics, being transported on a ship to Lisbon and transformed into the great symbol of Christian union against the Muslim enemy.
  2. Miradouro de Santa Luzia: Miradouro de Santa Luzia is one of the most popular viewpoints in Lisbon due to the fantastic view over Alfama, the Tagus River and Serra da Arrábida, located in Largo de Santa Luzia. The main highlights are the view over the Alfama neighborhood, the tile panels representing the Conquest of Lisbon in 1147, the Praça do Comércio before the 1755 Earthquake and a bust of homage to the Lisbon Historian Norberto de Araújo. The Miradouro de Santa Luzia is very visited by tourists from all over the world, which contributes to a very pleasant environment in the city of Lisbon;
Viewpoint of Santa Luzia, overlooking the Alfama neighborhood

Viewpoint of Santa Luzia, overlooking the Alfama neighborhood

Viúva Lamego tile panels at Alfama viewpoints

Viúva Lamego tile panels at Alfama viewpoints

5.Portas do Sol viewpoint: Portas do Sol viewpoint is one of the most popular viewpoints in the city of Lisbon, located in Largo das Portas do Sol, also called Varanda do Tejo, close to the Sao Jorge’s Castle. From the viewpoint, you can see the National Pantheon, the São Vicente de Fora Monastery, the Alfama district, the Fado Museum, the São Miguel Church, the Santo Estêvão Church, the Tagus River and the Serra da Arrábida. The viewpoint highlights are:

  • Statue of São Vicente by Raul Xavier;
  • Azurara Palace where the Ricardo Espírito Santo Silva Foundation is installed;
  • Cerca Moura from the 10th century
    The Largo das Portas do Sol stands out:
  • Museum of Decorative Arts;
  • Santiago Church.
Portas do Sol viewpoint, with panoramic views of Alfama and Tagus river

Portas do Sol viewpoint, with panoramic views of Alfama and Tagus river

  1. Museum of Fado and Portuguese Guitar: The Museum of Fado is a museum where you can observe the historical evolution of Fado, watch shows of this Portuguese musical genre and learn to play the Portuguese Guitar. The Fado Museum is located at Largo do Chafariz de Dentro, which connects with Rua de São Pedro, Rua dos Remédios and the Tagus River. This museum was inaugurated on September 25, 1998, presenting the following highlights:
    • Work José Malhoa’s Fado from 1910;
    • Triptych O Marinheiro by Constantino Fernandes of 1913;
    • The Most Portuguese of Oil Paintings by João Vieira from 2005;
    • Exhibition of musical instruments and costumes;
    • Documentation Center where it is possible to study Fado;
    • Museum School where you can learn to sing Fado and play Portuguese Guitar
Entrance to the Alfama neighborhood

Entrance to the Alfama neighborhood

  1. Santo Estêvão viewpoint: The Santo Estêvão viewpoint is one of the lesser-known viewpoints in the Alfama neighborhood, located in the courtyard in front of the Santo Estêvão church, it is a quiet place and away from the bustle of other more known viewpoints of the city, which allows to contemplate the Alfama neighborhood, the Serra da Arrábida and the Tagus River.
  2. Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição-a-Velha: The Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição-a-Velha is the church that establishes the end of Baixa Pombalina and the beginning of Alfama. The first church was built in 1496 with the name Igreja da Conceição dos Frades, replacing the Synagogue that existed there during the 15th century, having been destroyed by the 1755 Earthquake. The current church was rebuilt after the earthquake with a project by Francisco António Ferreira. The main points of interest of the Church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição-a-Velha are:
    • Main façade: it is believed that what remains of the initial church, prior to the 1755 Earthquake. The façade is a portico built in the Manueline style where the presence of Nossa Senhora da Misericórdia and the Virgin Mary stands out. a mantle to protect the entire Portuguese Society;
    • Nave da Igreja: The ceiling painted in stucco representing the Triumph of Nossa Senhora da Conceição by Félix da Rocha;
    • Statues representing São Pedro and São Paulo by José de Almeida;
    • Main Chapel: The current Main Chapel was initially a side chapel built by Simoa Godinha (1530-1594), a rich black nobleman from São Tomé and Príncipe, a major sugar producer. The highlight of the Capela-Mor* goes to the statue of Nossa Senhora da Conceição-a-Velha sculpted between 1730 and 1740 by José de Almeida;
    • Image of Nossa Senhora de Belém: commissioned by Infante Dom Henrique (1394-1460) for a small church that belonged to the Order of Christ and which was destroyed so that the Jerónimos Monastery could be built. The image is important because it was it that, according to oral tradition, Vasco da Gama prayed before leaving for India in 1498;
    • Pipe Organ: This small organ came from the Palácio das Necessidades in Lisbon.
  3. Teatro Romano: The Teatro Romano, is an archaeological find dating from the 1st century AD, with an estimated capacity for 4 thousand spectators. It is one of the five poles of the Lisbon Museum, together with the Pimenta Palace, the Santo António Museum, the Casa dos Bicos and the West Tower of Praça do Comércio. The Roman Theater is located between Rua de São Mamede and Rua da Saudade, which connects to Largo do Caldas and Rua da Madalena. The ruins of the Teatro Romano were discovered in 1798, having been recreated for the first time by the Italian architect Francisco Xavier Fabri. The Roman Theater was the target of several archaeological interventions over the years, namely between 1964 and 1967 under the guidance of Fernando de Almeida and by Irisalva Moita, between 1989 and 1993 under the guidance of the Lisbon Museum and Lisbon City Hall and opened in 2001. The museum was integrated into two buildings, an 18th century palace and an old 19th century factory.
Ruins of the Roman Theater discovered in Alfama

Ruins of the Roman Theater discovered in Alfama

  1. Casa dos Bicos: Casa dos Bicos is one of the hubs of the Lisbon Museum and the site of the José Saramago Foundation, Nobel Prize for Literature, being located in Campo das Cebolas. The Casa dos Bicos was built by Brás de Albuquerque, son of Afonso de Albuquerque, Viceroy of India between 1521 and 1523 under the guidance of Francisco de Arruda. The main façade of the palace was inspired by the Diamond Palace of Ferrara in Italy, built in the shape of stone spikes instead of diamonds, hence the current designation. Casa dos Bicos was partially destroyed by the 1755 Earthquake and rehabilitated in 1981 under the guidance of architects Manuel Vicente and Daniel Santa Rita with the aim of integrating the European Exhibition of Art, Science and Culture and to inaugurate the nucleus Os Descobrimentos Portugueses and Europe of the Renaissance. The Casa dos Bicos building performed several functions, namely the cod warehouse, headquarters of the National Commission for the Commemoration of Portuguese Discoveries between 1987 and 2002, City Council of Lisbon between 2003 and 2008 and (lstars) José Saramago Foundation from 2008 to the present*. The highlights of Casa dos Bicos* are as follows:
    • Ruins of Roman Lisbon: highlighting the discovery of fish condiment factories from the 1st century AD, part of the Roman wall of Lisbon, a semicircular tower from the 3rd century;
    • Fundação José Saramago: installed on the upper two floors of Casa dos Bicos, where we can observe and study the work of the writer José Saramago;
    • Medieval Wall: Part of the medieval wall was discovered;
    • Cetaria: are tanks of rectangular plant that were used in factories during the Period of Roman Occupation.
Casa dos Bicos, center of the Lisbon Museum and site of the José Saramago Foundation - Nobel Prize for Literature

Casa dos Bicos, center of the Lisbon Museum and site of the José Saramago Foundation – Nobel Prize for Literature

Other places to explore in Alfama

  • Church of Santo António: The Church of Santo António is a symbolic place in the city of Lisbon because it was built in the place where Santo António was born in 1190 in the current Largo de Santo António da Sé. The construction of the church was carried out from 1495 during the Reign of Dom João II and finished during the Reign of Dom Manuel I. The current church was totally rebuilt between 1767 and 1812 under the guidance of the architect Mateus Vicente de Oliveira (1706-1786 . The main points of interest are:
    • Statue of Santo António inaugurated by Pope John Paul II during the visit to Portugal in 1982 and by Soares Branco;
    • Neoclassical style facade;
    • Tombstone with inscription of Pope Pius VI’s brief to grant plenary indulgence to anyone who visits Casa de Santo António;
    • Coat of arms of Portugal and the Bulhões family, name of the Santo António family painted on the narthex of the church;
    • Organ built in 1872;
    • Room where Santo António was born.
  • Igreja de São Miguel: Igreja de São Miguel is the most important church in the Alfama neighborhood, located in Largo de São Miguel. The São Miguel Church was inaugurated in 1295, and the current version was built between 1673 and 1720 under the guidance of the architect João Nunes Tinoco and constitutes one of the largest gilt carvings in the city of Lisbon. The highlights of the Igreja de São Miguel are:
    • Statue of São Miguel on the main facade;
    • Wooden ceiling painted in fifteen watercolors representing angels;
    • Chapel of Santo António all covered with gilded woodcarving;
    • Sixteen paintings framed in gilded wood with New Testament representations by Bento Coelho da Silveira (1617-1706);
    • Main chapel in gilded wood with an image of São Miguel in the center and next to a statue of São José and another of Nossa Senhora da Boa Viagem.
  • Lisbon Military Museum: The Lisbon Military Museum is the oldest museum in Lisbon, opened on December 10, 1851 as an Artillery Museum, located in the Largo of the Artillery Museum in Alfama, near the Trains from Santa Apolónia and the Cruise Terminal. The Military Museum of Lisbon aims to divulge the military history of Portugal, having a set of more than 26 thousand pieces on display. The building of the Lisbon Military Museum was damaged twice, namely by an explosion and the 1755 Earthquake. The Lisbon Military Museum has the following highlights:
    • Main facade with a female sculpture that symbolizes the Motherland;
    • Central courtyard with cannons and twenty-six tile panels that tell the history of Portugal, from the 12th century Reconquest to the First World War (1914-1918);
    • Collection of artillery pieces in bronze, one of the largest artillery collections in the world;
    • Vehicle used to transport the columns that are part of the Arco da Rua Augusta;
    • Sala Vasco da Gama: with paintings by Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro as “O Velho do Restelo”, which portrays the Discovery of the Maritime Path to India, “The Mural” by Carlos Reis, the roof of the building by Luigi Manini;
    • Sala América: highlight for the ceiling painted by Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro;
    • Space dedicated to João Maria Ferreira do Amaral, commander of Infantry Battalion 15, the most decorated unit of the Portuguese Infantry due to the deeds at the Battle of La Lys on April 9, 1918. João Maria Ferreira do Amaral wrote after the First World War book “The Lie of Flanders” and “The Fear” where he criticized the politics of the time .;
    • Great War Rooms: in this room we highlight the paintings by the painter Sousa Lopes with representations of the First World War and the Monument to the Unknown Soldier.
  • Painting in honor of Amália Rodrigues – The Painting of Homage to Amália Rodrigues is a dedication to the most renowned Portuguese fado singer. The painting is located between Rua de São Tomé and Calçada do Menino de Deus in Alfama. The painting was inaugurated on July 2, 2015, by the artist of urban art Vhils and the Calceteiros School of the Lisbon City Council.
  • Museu do Aljube: Resistência e Liberdade: The Museu do Aljube: Resistência e Liberdade is a museum dedicated to publicizing the struggle against the dictatorial regime that ruled Portugal between 1926 and 1974, being located in Pátio do Aljube, between the Lisbon Cathedral and the Santa Luzia Viewpoint in Alfama. The museum is integrated in the Aljube building, a word with the Arabic origin “al-jubb” which means a well without water, dungeon or prison. The building has been a prison since its foundation in the Roman period, namely for clergy, women in the 19th century and political resistance between 1928 and 1965. The museum is structured as follows:
    • Floor Minus 1: Archaeological remains from the Roman and Islamic Period;
    • Floor Zero: Former main door of the prison, current entrance to the museum;
    • Floor 1: Place where part of the Permanent Exhibition is located, with the following nuclei: Rise and Fall of Fascisms, Portugal 1890-1976, Undisputed certainties, Clandestine Press, Clandestine and Police and Political Courts;
    • Floor 2: Place where part of the Permanent Exhibition is located with the following nuclei: Resist, Prison Circuit, Identification, Interrogation and Torture, Prisons and Concentration Camps, Resist in Jails and Isolation in “corrals”;
    • Floor 3: Place where part of the Permanent Exhibition is located with the following nuclei: Colonialism and anti-colonial struggle, Those who stood in the way, Liberdade 25th April 1974, Memory and Citizenship, Documentation Center;
    • Floor 4: Auditorium and Cafeteria.
  • Church of Santo Estêvão: The Church of Santo Estêvão is a church that integrates one of the oldest parishes in Lisbon, created in 1183 and is located in Largo de Santo Estêvão. The first church was built between 1316 and 1543, having been greatly affected by the 1755 Earthquake. The current church was inaugurated in 1775. The Church of Santo Estêvão has the following highlights:
    • Chapel of Nossa Senhora do Monte do Carmo with wooden figurine;
    • Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Conceição with a marble medallion representing Sant’Ana;
    • Main Chapel with representations of the Evangelists, the pink marble decoration of Serra da Arrábida;
    • Christ crucified flanked by two seraphim by José de Almeida and Jerónimo da Costa;
    • Image of Santo Estêvão by Nicolau Pinto;
      -Tile panels from the 17th century with biblical scenes.
  • Chafariz d’El-Rei: The Chafariz d’El-Rei is one of the oldest fountains in the city of Lisbon, dating back to the Islamic period. The fountain is located at Travessa do Chafariz d’El-Rei in Alfama. This fountain was built in the 13th century during the Reign of Dom Dinis (1281-1325) and changed successively, until reaching the current appearance that dates from the 19th century. The Chafariz d’El-Rei is integrated in the Palace of the Marquis of Angeja and features the following highlights:
    • Top floor with a terrace;
    • Lower floor with taps;
    • Panels with two caravels and the arms of Lisbon.
  • Chafariz de Dentro: Chafariz de Dentro is one of the places of water supply for the population of Alfama and is located in Largo do Chafariz de Dentro. The fountain was opened in the 13th century and got its name due to being inside the Fernandina Fence built during the Reign of Dom Fernando I (1345-1383), known as Chafariz dos Cavalos due to the existence of horses of bronze that decorated the facade, which would have been stolen by Spanish troops during the siege of Lisbon in 1384. The main highlight of the Chafariz de Dentro is the facade built in Baroque and Romantic style, being the current version of 1872.
  • Museum-School of Decorative Arts: The Museum-School of Decorative Arts is a museum-school that aims to divulge the various decorative styles of Portuguese manor houses between the 17th and 19th centuries, being located in the Azurara Palace in Largo das Portas do Sol. The Azurara Palace performed several functions throughout the 20th century, namely Corps of the General Staff of the Army between 1902 and 1907, religious school of Dona Júlia Brito e Cunha between 1907 and 1912, hospice related to hydrophobia (fear of water or liquids) between 1913 and 1933. The Palácio Azurara was purchased by Ricardo Espírito Santo Silva in 1947 who restored it with a project by the architect Raul Lino (1879-1974). The main highlights of the Museum-School of Decorative Arts are:
    • Escadaria Nobre: The Escadaria Nobre has as main points of interest the tile panels by Bartolomeu Antunes (1688-1753), a mirror with a gilded frame, two Flemish tapestries from the 16th or 17th century and two porcelain vases from the Qing dynasty of China;
    • Salão Nobre: The Salão Nobre presents themes related to the exoticism of the East and the Portuguese Expansion, namely a tapestry with representations of animals and characters from the East, an Indo-Portuguese office built in present-day Mongolia and the Arraiolos rug 18th century;
    • Núcleo dachair Portuguesa: there is more than 300 chairs and 30 canapés / sofas from the 17th to 19th centuries in the private collection of Ricardo do Espírito Santo Silva;
    • Sala das Vitrinas: The Sala das Vitrinas is so named due to the presence of several showcases that are part of the Museum’s collection of earthenware dating from the 18th to the 20th century. The earthenware comes from all over the country, namely from the former Real Fábrica do Rato de Lisboa, from Viana do Castelo, Miragaia or Massarelos;
    • Dom José I (1750-1777) and Dona Maria I (1777-1816) rooms: in Dom José I and Dona Maria rooms the main highlights are Rococo furniture and a painting to represent the “Virgem do Leite” by Gregório Lopes;
    • Sala Cadaval: in the Cadaval Room the 16th-century triptych to represent Saint Barthélemy, Lamentation on the Dead Christ and Saint Francis by Gregório Lopes (1490-1550), deserves special mention;
    • Sala dos Prêpios: in the Sala dos Prêpios there is a highlight of the crib with figures made in terracotta by Silvestre Faria Lobo;
    • Sala Dom João V: The main highlights of the Dom João V Room are a portrait of Dom João V painted by Pierre Antoine Quillard (1701-1753).
  • Church of the Child of God: The Church of the Child of God is known for the luxury and luxury of the Baroque style, having served as inspiration for the construction of other churches in the city, located on the Calçada do Menino de Deus. The current church was built between 1711 and 1730 under the guidance of several architects, namely João Antunes (1643-1712) and João Frederico Ludovice (1673-1752). The current Church was ordered to be built by Dom João V (1689-1750) with the purpose of housing an image of the Child of God that would work miracles offered by the abbess of Mother of God Cecília de Jesus. (1694-1766). The highlights of the church are the gilded altarpieces by authorship of painters like Vieira Lusitano, André Rubira and André Gonçalves.
  • 16th century residential house: The 16th century residential house is one of the few residential houses that existed in Lisbon prior to the 1755 Earthquake. This house is located at Rua dos Cegos, close to Rua de São Tomé and its main highlight is a tile panel from the 1940s.
  • Church of Santa Luzia and São Brás: The Church of Santa Luzia and São Brás is a church that belongs to the Order of Malta, being located in Largo de Santa Luzia. Santa Luzia is the patron saint of the vision and São Brás the patron saint of medicine for the Order of Malta. The Church of Santa Luzia and São Brás was built during the Reign of Dom Afonso Henriques and donated to the Order of Malta in thanks for the help given in conquering the city of Lisbon from the Moors in 1147 and later transformed into a church-fortress. The current church was rebuilt after the 1755 Earthquake under the guidance of the architect Mateus Vicente Oliveira. The main points of interest are:
    • Tile panel representing Lisbon before the 1755 Earthquake;
    • Tile panel representing the Conquest of Lisbon from the Moors in 1147;
    • Ten tombs with Latin inscriptions;
    • Statue of Dom Nuno Álvares Pereira;
    • Queen Santa Isabel statue.

Historic classified Alfama establishments

  • Restaurante Estrela da Sé: The Estrela da Sé Restaurant is named after the owner’s homeland, Santiago de Compostela, which means star field. Agapito Fernandes was the founder of the restaurant in 1857. The gastronomic specialties of the Restaurante Estrela da Sé are black pudding, roasted chorizo, fried sausage with stewed beans, Bife à Estrela or Iscas à Portuguesa

Main streets and squares of Alfama

  • Rua dos Remédios: Rua dos Remédios is the most important street in Alfama, being the main place of commerce and restoration in the Lisbon neighborhood. Rua dos Remédios is so named due to the presence of the Chapel of Nossa Senhora dos Remédios, having been designated Rua das Portas do Sol until 1859. Rua dos Remédios has as its main attraction the Chapel of Nossa Senhora dos Remédios;
  • Rua de São Pedro: Rua de São Pedro is also known as R ua Direita de São Pedro, where you can find several restaurants, stores and ( rstar) fado houses*. This street connects Largo do Chafariz de Dentro and Rua de São Miguel. Rua de São Pedro appeared mentioned for the first time in 1191 by the Bishop of Lisbon Dom Soeiro Annes, responsible for the Church of São Pedro de Alfama, transferred in 1770 to the Parish of São Pedro de Alcântara with the name of São Pedro de Alcântara Church ;
  • Largo de São Miguel: Largo de São Miguel is the heart of the Alfama neighborhood and connects Rua de São Miguel to Travessa do Terreiro do Trigo. Largo de São Miguel is so named because of the existence of the São Miguel Church;
  • Rua de São Miguel: Rua de São Miguel is the medieval right street of Alfama that connects Largo de São Miguel to Rua dos Remédios. Rua de São Miguel was built between 1150 and 1180;
  • Largo do Chafariz de Dentro: Largo do Chafariz de Dentro is considered the rossio de Alfama, a large space where you can enjoy, stroll and visit the craft fair that takes place every Thursday fairs of the year, with the exception of July due to the Santo António de Lisboa Festivals. Largo do Chafariz de Dentro connects Rua do Terreiro do Trigo, Rua do Jardim do Tabaco, Rua dos Remédios and Rua de São Pedro. This square is so named due to the fact that the fountain is inside the Fernandina Cerca built between 1373 and 1375 by King Dom Fernando I. The main highlights of the Largo do Chafariz de Dentro are the Chafariz de Dentro and the Fado Museum.

The Fado Houses of Alfama

  • Clube de Fado: located on Rua de São João da Praça, near the Cathedral of Lisbon, the Clube de Fado stands out for its warm and romantic atmosphere. Clube do Fado is part of a building that is over three hundred years old and stands out from the inside, namely the arches, the very thick walls, the ceiling or the Moiro Well. There are several artists working in Clube de Fado, namely Mário Pacheco, Cuca Roseta and Carlos Leitão;
  • Casa de Linhares: located halfway between the Cathedral of Lisbon and the Tagus River, the Casa de Linhares is officially called Bacalhau do Molho. The Casa de Linhares was the place where the Counts of Linhares lived and stands out for its vaulted ceilings, the large fireplace that makes the space welcoming, the cobbled floor, the rustic wooden tables and the bright red sofas leaning against the walls. Casa de Linhares presents a cast of quality artists, namely Jorge Fernando and Fábia Rebordão;
  • Taverna del Rey: located in Largo do Chafariz de Dentro, the Taverna del Rey is one of the most famous fado houses in Alfama. Taverna del Rey stands out for its wooden ceiling decoration simulating the caravels used in the Portuguese Discoveries and the Portuguese pavement floor with themes related to fado. At Taverna del Rey they have performed throughout the famous fado singers, namely Tony de Matos and Fernando Maurício;
    +Mesa de Frades: located on Rua dos Remédios, the space of the Mesa de Frades was once a chapel, grocery store and tavern. The decoration with blue tiles, the cozy atmosphere and the quality of the food make it one of the most sought after fado houses in Lisbon. Here renowned singers sing, namely Ricardo Ribeiro and Pedro Moutinho;
  • Parreirinha de Alfama: located near Rua dos Remédios, Parreirinha de Alfama was founded by Argentina Santos, a fado legend. In A Parreirinha de Alfama artists such as Amália Rodrigues, Alfredo Marceneiro or Maria da Fé performed. The restaurant stands out for its decoration with motifs related to fado and Portuguese gastronomy;
  • Tasca do Jaime d’Alfama;
  • Senhor Fado;
  • Adega dos Fadistas;
  • A Baiúca;
  • Dragão de Alfama;
  • A Travessa do Fado – Bij Alfama;
  • Esquina de Alfama;
  • Páteo de Alfama;
Traditional Fado house in Alfama

Traditional Fado house in Alfama

  • Pastel do Fado;
  • Guitarras de Lisboa;
  • Fado na Morgadinha;
  • Coração de Alfama;
  • São Miguel de Alfama;
  • Boteco da Fá;
  • Tasca Bela;
  • Tasca do Chico;
  • Duetos da Sé.

The Alfama Parish Council is Santa Maria Maior Parish Council

Educational Institutions in Alfama

  • Escola Superio de Educação Almeida Garrett;
  • Instituto Universitário de Ciências Psicológicas, Sociais e da Vida.

Tourist Developments in Alfama

  • Alfama Patio
  • Hotel Convento do Salvador
  • Memmo Alfama
  • Palacete Chafariz d’el Rei
  • Santiago de Alfama: Boutique Hotel

Fairs, Parties and Pilgrimages in Alfama

  • Feira da Ladra: held weekly on Tuesdays and Saturdays in the morning near the National Pantheon;
  • Santos Populares de Lisboa: held annually during the month of June, with the high point on the 12th;
  • CaixaAlfama: held annually in September.

Transport and Access in Alfama

Alfama has the following public transport available:

  • Metropolitano de Lisboa: along the Avenida there are three stations:
    Santa Apolónia Station (Blue Line)
  • Trains: Santa Apolónia Station;
  • Car parks: Portas do Sol viewpoint.

Alfama’s History

Traditional streets of Alfama, with historic buildings

Traditional streets of Alfama, with historic buildings

Alfama was one of the Jewish neighborhoods in the city. The name Alfama comes from the Arabic word “Al-Hamma”, which means hot baths or spas. Until the beginning of the 20th century, Alfama was known for its sources of treatment of water-borne diseases in the subsoil, with healing properties and temperatures reaching 40ºC. Muslims divided Alfama into two zones:

  1. Alfama do Alto, the place where the aristocracy lived, and;
  2. Alfama do Mar, closest to the river, where the people lived.
    Alfama was the place where Muslims first lived, and later Jews after the Christian Reconquest. From the Middle Ages, Alfama entered a decline that lasted until the second half of the 20th century. Alfama was a neighborhood with great criminality until the 1990s, when it started to recover. Currently, it is one of the most sought after neighborhoods to live and visit due to the safety and rehabilitation that has been done over these years. Nowadays, it is possible to stroll through the same narrow and winding streets, through the numerous alleys and alleys, through the various staircases that have existed since the foundation and which allow you to climb in the direction of Castelo de São Jorge or Graça and go down to the Tagus river or to Baixa. The most prominent streets are Rua dos Remédios, Rua de São Tomé and Rua de São Pedro. The most important squares are Campo das Cebolas, Largo de São Miguel and Largo do Chafariz de Dentro. Alfama is one of the places in the city, along with Mouraria and Bairro Alto where you can listen to fado, a Portuguese musical style that someone called the blues of Portugal. Alfama is also the site of the Lisbon Cathedral and some of the most beautiful viewpoints in the Portuguese capital: Miradouro das Portas do Sol, Miradouro de Santa Luzia and Miradouro de Santo Estêvão.

Alfama city planning

Alfama was being built according to the needs of the population, with no urban plan. It is a labyrinthine neighborhood with winding and narrow streets, numerous alleys and stairs that allow you to go up in the direction of Graça and Castelo de São Jorge or down in the direction of the Tagus River and Baixa de Lisboa. The main highlights of Alfama are: rua de São Tom, where the oldest traffic sign in Lisbon is located, rua dos Remédios, shopping street in the neighborhood, the Rua de São Pedro, known as the bohemian Alfama street and the place where the largest number of Alfama fado houses are, the Campo das Cebolas, where the “Casa dos Bicos” is located, headquarters of the José Saramago Foundation (Nobel Prize for Portuguese Literature) the Largo de São Miguel, where the Igreja de São Miguel is located, the most important church in the neighborhood, the future installations of the Jewish Museum of Lisbon, and the Largo do Chafariz de Dentro (entrance door of Alfama) which gives access to Rua dos Remédios, to Rua de São Pedro where the Fado Museum is located.

Curiosities of Alfama

  • In 2002 there was a project, which did not advance, to rehabilitate all the springs in Alfama;
  • There is a locality in Israel, called al-Alhaman (Alfama) known for its thermal waters;
  • It is in Alfama, on São Tomé Street, that the oldest traffic sign in Portugal, dating from 1686 is located;
  • Alfama had four thermal houses in the 19th century: Alcaçarias do Duque, Alcaçarias do Dona Clara, Alcaçarias do Baptista and Banhos do Doutor;
  • Queen Dona Maria I was a regular at the Alfama thermal baths;
  • It is in Alfama that one of the largest free trade fairs in Lisbon is held: the Feira da Ladra;
  • In Alfama, there are street vendors selling “ginginha” in front of private houses.

Quick Facts of Alfama

  • Alfama has approximately ten thousand inhabitants;
  • Main economic activities: tourism, restaurants and fishing.

Santa Maira Maior (Alfama) Parish Location on Lisbon Map

Santa Maria Maior parish location on the map of Lisbon

Santa Maria Maior parish location on the map of Lisbon

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