Baixa of Lisbon
No one will ever visit Lisbon without a walk from Rossio to Praça do Comercio, or vice-versa.
The rebuilt area of Lisbon, after the earthquake, is an example of modernity and open mind, contrasting to the narrow and winding streets in the hills, older than 1775, that still flank it.
Praça do Comércio
Aka Terreiro do Paço
The most beautiful square in Lisbon, this harmonious space by the river is the perfect tribute to those who died in the earthquake of 1755.
The crashing of the lower part of the city allowed a reconstruction where the perfect geometry contrasts with the narrow, winding streets that survived in the surrounding hills.
The balance of all the elements in the square is better seen if you arrive from the river.
All the elements, including the statue of king’s José I, date form the 18th century.
The only changes made in the square were… colors. Originally yellow, in 1910 the republicans decided to change it to pink. Recent analysis decided to return to the original yellow, and that’s what is expecting you.
King Jose I
José I was the king when Lisbon suffered the earthquake. Shadowed by the great work of Pombal, José had, however a very hard work, creating educational em economical institutions to adapt Portugal to the Industrial revolution going on in Europe, while facing several wars with Spain and France.
It’s fair, his statue in the middle of the central square, Praça do Comércio, created by Machado de Castro, nowadays the oldest statue in Lisbon.
Now it’s about time to start learning some Portuguese:
“Direita” is a Portuguese word that means either right or straight. Each city uses to have its “Direita” street that, by coincidence is generally one of the least straight of them.
Don’t try to understand – that’s Portuguese logic.
King José statue in Praça do Comércio is the subject to a traditional game that all the children visiting it must face:
– Which one is the “direita” leg of King José’s horse?
Wrong! It’s the other one. If they answer “the right one” they will be corrected- the straight one is the left. If they answer “the left”… well… the right is the other one. With this innocent joke no child will ever forget that statue.
The Portuguese cobblestone pavement is famous, enhanced by the used of contrasting colors in well elaborated drawings (black basalt in calcareous pavements). It may be seen in Lisbon almost everywhere, in some places with real artistic results.
Praça do Comércio was one of the places, but, wit successive modifications, it may change almost each day.
The arch in the north of Praça do Comercio, the start of Rua Augusta, was initially built in 1775, right after the earthquake, but was later demolished after the substitution of Pombal, and rebuilt in 1844 with a new conception.
I don’t know why did that happen because, among the statues of the celebrated national figures included in the monument, we may see… Marquês de Pombal.
Recently, an elevator started operating to the top – 2.50 €
Conceição Velha Church
A few meters east of Terreiro do Paço, a splendid Manueline door reveals this church.
As almost everything in low Lisbon, by the river, it is a reconstruction from the 18th century, in this case of a former church, built upon a Jewish synagogue.
Address: Rua da Alfândega 108. 1100-016 Lisboa
Directions: Between Rua da Madalena & Rua Arameiros
Tram 28 is special.
Crossing most of the old town, you may enter it at Chiado and it takes you westbound to Sta Catarina (sightseeing), S. Bento (Parliament and PM residence), and Estrela (Church); eastbound to Praça do Comercio (descend at R. Vítor Cordon), the Cathedral, Santa Luzia (sightseeing, and best place to start Alfama visit), the castle of S. Jorge (exit at Lg. Portas do Sol), S. Vicente (church, national pantheon, and flea market two times a week), Graça (church) and Martim Moniz.
Beware of pickpockets
Palace of Totta bank
In 1907 the bank Lisboa e Açores built a very beautiful building in rua Augusta.
Life has passed by it, Lisboa e Açores became “Totta e Açores” later “Santander Totta” but, fortunately, the building was never modified.
Address: Rua Augusta
Only a block west of Terreiro do Paço, there’s a small and interesting square.
City Hall a palace from the 18th century, several times destroyed and reconstructed (last time after the fire of 1996) dominates the area, but a large and strange modern sculpture in the facing side breaks the classical look added by the court building, and the 18th century pillory, in the middle of the square.
Address: Praça do Município, 1100-365 Lisboa
Website: CM- Lisboa
In one more visits to Lisbon (January 28th, 2013) I was surprised by a slab in St Julião church facade, identifying it as the museum of Banco de Portugal.
Back home I checked the news and found that… it will be true.
The original church was destroyed by Lisbon earthquake, and a new one was built in location, in the usual Pombal style. From 1868 to 1933 the national bank bought one by one all the nine buildings in the quarter, the church being the last one.
Since then it was used as warehouse and later garage, until 2007, when the bank decided to recover the building as a respectable place to Money museum.
The works were expensive but they are about to be finished, so, if you come to Lisbon after the mid of this year you will have a new museum well located, right beside City Hall.
Address: Rua do Comércio 148, 1100-150 Lisboa, near Largo São Julião
Website: Museu do dinheiro
It’s not a highlight of Lisbon, but, in the way up to the cathedral you may visit this modest but nice church.
Built after the earthquake to replace a former church from the 12th century that was built in place of a roman temple, this church uses an old door brought from… well, another destroyed church.
Bairro da Sé (cathedral quarter)
Folkloric Lisbon rely on the rivalry between its traditional quarters or “Bairros”.
For a foreigner it’s impossible to distinguish differences between most of them. For instance, the “Bairro da Sé” next to Alfama or S Vicente, shows the same ambiance, and the same look of narrow streets, stairs, and ramps, with clothes hanging from many windows, despite the general forbidding.
Well, when June 13th comes and marches compete, everything turns different.
Built in 1150 in the place of a former mosque, this church suffered the consequences of several earthquakes, and subsequent rebuilding.
Many elements were kept, some other added, thus becoming a mix of styles.
The church is open to the public but the visit to the Gothic cloister and the treasure is paid (2.50 € each, 4.00 € combined), with discount to students.
Address: Largo da Sé, 1100-585 Lisboa
One of the most remarkable remains in the cathedral of Lisbon is the baptismal sink, were Saint Anthony was baptized in 1195.
The chapel decorated with tiles, illustrates the saint preaching to the fishes.
Saint Anthony church
Born in Lisbon and dead in Pádua, Saint Anthony is the patron of Lisbon (and of Pádua too).
His church was destroyed by the earthquake of 1755 and rebuilt afterwards with popular subscriptions, especially from children who created a tradition of asking for a dime to the saint (“Um tostão para o Santo António”). That’s why the floor is full of coins.
Saint Anthony is also the saint of marriages, introducing the tradition of a prayer in the church before the ceremony. Since the middle of last century another tradition was born: The state pays the marriage of poor people, that accept to marry in a common ceremony in June 13th, largely covered by TV and media.
The church stays very close to the Cathedral.
Address: Rua Pedras Negras 1, 1100-401 Lisboa
Website: Santo Antonio
Lisbon earthquake, in 1755, destroyed the original church, built in 1556.
Ten years after the earthquake, Marquês de Pombal ordered the reconstruction, with a new architecture, according to Pombal patterns.
It’s free to visit, in Victoria street, crossing the main avenues of central Lisbon.
Santa Justa lift
Built following Eifell’s style by another french engineer of his school, this elevator is still in use, allowing a quick and convenient ascension to Carmo level. Most people limit themselves to admire the construction, but, since you need to go uphill, it’s a good idea to use it, however, if you want to save the time lost in the long lines, you may use the trick I describe in my Local Secrets tip
Address: Rua do Ouro,1150-060 Lisboa
Praça da Figueira
Adjacent to Rossio, the main square, and maybe because of that, this square was neglected until not many years ago.
In Pombal project it was the main market of the city, being demolished in the mid of 20th century.
Only by the end of the dictatorship the square received some investment and after being embellished with king João II’s statue, now it shares with Rossio its Metro station and most of the commercial activity.
Rossio (D. Pedro IV square)
Lisbon’s living room, Rossio is a well balanced square, usually taken by visitors as the reference point of their strolls across town. Easy to reach by Metro it is not advisable as a starting point except in a walk down to the river, because of its low level. You’d better take a transport to each one of its surrounding hills, and visit the interesting points in your way down to the square. Most foreigners will have their meals in one of the many restaurants in “Rua das Portas de Santo Antão”, right beside the national theater.
Nothing to oppose, because you may find there some good restaurants, but… do choose well, because its also a place for big disappointments.
The most “African square”
If you visit Rossio, the most central square in Lisbon, you may feel in Africa, due to the prevalence of black people in the area. Since the abandon of the colonies, the refugees use to gather in the area, that with the transference of commerce to the big malls is being skipped by the locals. Tourists and Africans are, nowadays, the great part of the dwellers and passersby.
PS – This image is fading: the crises sent back home thousands of immigrants, and the growth of tourism is balancing colors now, however, our colonial history remains clearly present in this square
Let me tell you a secret, if you promise not to tell anybody:
Once in Lisbon, your guide (or friends… or book), are going to count you stories about the king in Rossio, the central square also called Dom Pedro IV square. Do you want the truth? Here it goes:
The man in Rossio must be the Mexican emperor Maximilian.
It just happened that the statue was in Lisbon, coming from France in its way to Mexico, when the emperor was murdered. For precaution the statue stopped in Lisbon, until someone found that it looked like the Portuguese king and… we never have been bad in business…
But remember! You promised not to tell anybody…
Built in 1846 upon the ruins of a former palace used by Inquisition, the national theater D. Maria II suffered a strong fire in 1964 saving only the walls. Being the most emblematic building in Lisbon’s main square – Rossio – it was reconstructed respecting the original, reopening in 1978 and being now regularly used with public management.
Address: Praça Dom Pedro IV, 1100-201 Lisboa
Website: D. Maria
São Domingos church
Several million people pass, each year, by this church, in the heart of Lisbon. Who dares to enter? Less than 1%. Work, for locals, or prevailing highlights to tourists, give no time for that. But, having time, why not?
Did you know that, damaged by the earthquake of 1755, this church was rebuilt using the remains of the Royal Chapel, also destroyed in the same cataclysm?
Did you know that, in 1954, a fire burned the entire interior that still keep evidences of it?
No need to enter, but, since you are there… having time…
Address: Lg S. Domingos, adjacent to Rossio
Website: S. Domingos
Local traditions are fading, but some still have their followers. Ginginha is one of them: two tiny shops were the landmark of this cherry liquor, that, of course, you may buy everywhere, including shops and supermarkets, but the tradition was to stop, ask for a Ginginha at the counter, and drink it outside, watching the passing people.
Portuguese sanitary authorities forced the closing of the small stalls that traditionalists would like to reopen. Meanwhile, Largo de S. Domingos keeps being a talking area, only without the glass in people’s hands.
“São Luis dos Franceses” church
Many times I passed by this “always closed” church. What is? Still working? how to visit?
Trying to find something I browsed the pages of City Hall (they are doing a very promising job “explaining” Lisbon, I will surely return to this resources) where I found (in Portuguese…Yet):
Inaugurated in 1572 by the Confraternity of the Blessed Saint Louis King of France, composed of French and Bretons Boilermakers residents in Lisbon, it was ruined by the earthquake of 1755. The reconstruction was made with money granted by Versailles, retaining its external appearance, but modifying completely its interior.
The 3 lilac flowers of the weapons of France began to appear throughout the Church, and the marble and gold as main elements of decoration. At the level of the upper floor, 3 rooms were adapted to dispensary, intended to rescue shipwrecked sailors and poor French, which was replaced by the Hospital of St. Louis, in the 19th century (Fernanda was operated in that hospital, once).
Acquired by the Portuguese Government and abolished the order of St. Louis, in 1792, only in 1841 it was integrated in French heritage. In 1860 the Church was delivered to the Congregation of the Lazarist Fathers, which today still ensure the religious service of the Church and spiritual of the French community of Lisbon.
That’s it! Is it there any french friend to invite me in?
Website: S. Luis
Portas de Santo Antão street
Close to the centre (as a matter of fact… in the centre) this is a street that you must walk, in its pedestrian section. There you may find almost everything: some remains of traditional commerce, a couple of the most famous restaurants in Lisbon (Gambrinus, Solmar) and many other options from top level price to popular ones, passing by touristy places, classical palaces (even if you don’t want to eat there, enter Casa do Alentejo, to see the Moorish yard) the most popular theater in Lisbon, Coliseu, and… the life of Lisbon. I think that, by day, nowhere else in town you may find such integration between locals and tourists.
The most central train station has been closed for sometime, due to problems in the tunnel.
Now reopened with a face-lift, this neo-manueline building is the most impressive in the short connection between Rossio and Restauradores, but don’t limit yourself to the look of its facade: go inside and see its beautiful roof.
Address: Between Rossio and Restauradores
The main avenue in Lisbon descends from Marquês de Pombal square, to Restauradores, another square with an obelisk in its centre.
That’s the monumento to celebrate the recuperation of nationality, in 1640, after 60 years of Spanish sovereignty. Today it is the favorite place to all legal and illegal nationalist events.
Directions: Off Avenida da Liberdade
The useful palace
This beautiful palace from the 18th century (Foz Palace), right in the centre of Lisbon, is now used as the centre for social communication ant tourist office.
Most of its richness was moved, and today some rooms may be rented for social or cultural events.
Address: Praça dos Restauradores, 1250-187 Lisboa
Phone: +351 21 322 1201
Website: Palácio Foz
Portugal played a very secondary role in WW1, but with dramatic consequences. Half-way in Liberdade Avenue, a small monument remembers those victims.
I think it is a wise monument, so poor, sober and honest as we were in the war.
Don’t blame me for dedicating to this a special attention: the best documentation of the Portuguese drama in WW1 was the painting of my grand uncle, (as it may be seen in Military Museum), and its memories are always present in the family.
Marquês de Pombal
A very beautiful square, with a high column topped by Pombal and a lion, is the main hub for transport in central Lisbon, and a mandatory visit to any foreigner.
Adjacent to it Edouard VII park deserves a visit, and it is a good starting point to stroll down to the centre.
Do not miss the monument, where several artists represented the reforms made by Pombal in almost all cultural and economic sectors.
Eduardo VII park
The park Eduardo VII marks the northernmost and highest point of Pombal Lisbon.
It is a beautiful park, with excellent views over Lisbon and the River.
There you may see the discussed (easy to understand why) monument of the 25th April, the Estufa Fria, and the beautiful oldest sport pavilion of Lisbon.
There’s a great esplanade near the pavilion.
Estufa Fria (Greenhouse)
No one visits Lisbon without passing by Eduardo VII park. Most people opt for a superficial visit, only to enjoy the superb views from its top, but the appreciators of Nature, and those who want to know all the details, may stop a while and visit the greenhouses in the park.
Initially a cold greenhouse, after several additions (warm and sweet greenhouses) it shows today a large variety of plants, some of them exotic, and composing a beautiful garden that you may see in a short and relaxing time.
The entrance is free on Sunday, costing 3.10 € in the other days, with discounts to groups, seniors students, and always free to handicapped people. The area adjacent to the entrance is now used for… occasional meetings, however, it seems to be safe during the day.
Website: Estufa fria
The ugliest monument
In one of my prior tips I wrote about the second ugliest monument in Lisbon – it is in Arieiro, out of touristy main circuits, and only “attacking” locals.
However, the UGLIEST one is in a very visited area, atop Eduardo VII park.
For hygienic reasons I refuse to describe it, and if you have the bad luck to see it, just look around – it’s only an accidental pile of rocks waiting for the workers to build something.
Yes, around it the views are great!
The house of the setting sun
Look at the picture:
It’s centrally located.
It’s an outstanding building.
It’s not cheap… it’s free.
Guests use to stay for long periods.
However,… that’s the last “hotel” I would recommend in Lisbon.
Why? – Because it is local jail.
A discreet facade hides one of the best collections of Portuguese treasures – the church of S. Roque also called Misericórdia.
Just in the centre of town it is a simple building with four different chapels in each side. Each one of them is a masterpiece, but the chapel of S. João Batista, made in lapis-lazuli is astonishing.
Simply… don’t miss it.
Address: Largo Trindade Coelho, 1200-470 Lisboa
Website: São Roque
Until 1974 Carmo was only a touristy place, with its beauty and not many references.
In the revolution of 25ft April it was the surrendering place to the government, since then becoming a reference to freedom.
Still beautiful as before, or… even more!
Address: Chiado, Lisbon, Portugal
Built in the 14th century by the hero of Aljubarrota, Nuno Alvares Pereira, celebrated in Praça da Figueira, and especially in Batalha, this convent was seriously destroyed by the earthquake of 1755, and it was never totally repaired.
Now it stands as a reminder that another earthquake is coming, no one knows when, and meanwhile, it is used as the Archaeological Museum. It’s almost impossible to visit Lisbon without seeing it, and it is easy to reach using the lift of Santa Justa
Directions: At Travessa Dom Pedro de Menezes
In Carmo convent you have 2 in 1: The ruins are also the archaeological museum (I mean… one of them – the National Museum or Archaeology is located in Jerónimos). Well, I must confess that the display, though historically rich, is not too convincing, with great part of the collection not exposed. The most remarkable thing is the building… or what remains of it. Anyway, if the theme interests you, there are pieces from the pre-history to the 19th century, and … it’s there.
The entrance costs 3.50 €, with discounts to students and seniors.
S. Pedro de Alcântara
If you have to choose just one of the many overlooks in Lisbon, this should be the one.
Facing the castle, with Bairro Alto in your back, this is a mandatory stop for picture, better at the end of the afternoon.
After or before the picture don’t forget S. Roque church, only a few meters distant.
Before the trend of big malls, Garrett street was the most remarkable shopping area in Lisbon.
Business faded but sophistication remains, with some historic shops surviving the new challenges.
Totally recovered from the big fire in 1988, it is a “must see” not only for shoppers.
As a “seven hills” city, Lisbon has some steep areas.
By the end of the 19th century, several lifts were made. Some of them disappeared, but four were kept and modernized, still being useful to make the visits walking downwards, and some of them even transformed in national monuments.
That’s what happened with Santa Justa elevator and Lavra, this one sharing with Bica the circumstance of staying a little “out of the beaten path”, thus not so useful for tourists as the other two.
Gloria elevator starts right in central Restauradores square, and it is very useful to go up to “Bairro Alto”.
Address: Bounded by Rua dos Lagares & Travessa Olival à Graça (West to East) and Rua da Verónica & Rua dos Sapadores (South to North)
Cais do Sodré is a ugly square that most visitors need to use, either to take to train to Cascais or the tram to Belém. If it happens to you having some time in the area, forget the square and the river, and go across the avenue.
The old Ribeira market keeps the beauty of its secular look, and is now a smart area of cultural events, gastronomy and crafts market.The small gardens west of it are also beautiful.
Address: Avenida 24 de Julho – Cais do Sodre, Lisbon, Portugal
Portuguese are very dedicated to celebrate all the (dead!) nationals that go a little bit upper than average. But this concern, sometimes leads to some situations difficult to explain. For instance, why does the small square adjacent to the beautiful building of the 24th July market, in Cais do Sodré, have the name of king Luis I, and the statue of the marquis of Sá da Bandeira?
I don’t know, but it is a beautiful small spot in a not so beautiful neighborhood, so, if you pass there (maybe, it’s just beside the historical area), have a look and try to find yourself the explanation.
The Castle and traditional quarters
It’s far from being one of the best castles in Portugal, but its precious story, accessibility, great sights over the city, and the typicity of the surrounding quarters turn it in a mandatory visit.
At the eastern end of tram 28 line, it is a natural stop, to discover the city descending to the centre.
Address: Rua de Santa Cruz do Castelo, 1100-129 Lisboa
Website: S. Jorge
The First King
The conquest of Lisbon was a decisive step towards our nationality and independence.
Afonso Henriques, our first king is celebrated everywhere, and the castle is no exception.
Some people identify the small figure at the entrance as the king – it’s a clear mistake:
it’s St Jorge and not the king whose statue is in evidence inside the castle.
Website: S. Jorge
Spreading over seven hills, and usually with a bright sun, Lisbon has lots of wonderful sights.
Each hill has a couple of privileged spots, but the castle tops them all.
The lift of Santa Justa is another special place, with good views over the castle.
The castle is a landmark in Lisbon, but you must be warned that most of its elements are no more than a ruin.
Great views over Lisbon, a few interesting details, tons of history, reconstructed elements, and… ruins, disguised by the trees and gardens.
“Graça” is one of the Portuguese words for beauty but the quarter doesn’t make great justice to its name.
Impersonal, degraded, it has a few churches to visit, a couple of good sightseeing points, and several streets to get out of there.
However it is not bad as a residential area.
S. Vicente Quarter
Not so visited as its neighbor Alfama, this quarter still has its attractive look, sharing most of the characteristics, and giving a perfect look of Lisbon.
A few interesting monuments enhance this quarter’s interest.
In common Portuguese conversation, when someone says “that is like the works of St Engrácia” that means a never ending work. That phrase was born when the people got convinced that this church, started in 1568 would never be finished.
Officially, it has been finished in 1966, but the initial plans were revised, and there are still four towers missing, justifying the popular expression. With0 all the stop and go in its construction, it became a strange building where baroque dominates, but with several interpretations.
Located in a typical quarter near the centre, since 1916 it is the burial place of some of our great figures, the last one Amalia Rodrigues. And now Eusébio…
Address: Campo de Santa Clara, 1100-471 Lisboa
São Vicente de Fora church
Close to the Pantheon and Alfama, this church, following an Italian style, it’s not a top attraction, but it has some beautiful chapels, and adjacent to it an old monastery with good panels of Portuguese tiles and other interesting details.
It is considered the most important remain of the Spanish domination at the end of the 16th century.
You may also visit the tombs of the kings of the fourth and last dynasty, but don’t try to see the famous panels of Nuno Gonçalves – they never have been part of the church.
They were found in S. Vicente de Fora palace, and are now displayed in the museum of old arts (Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga)
Address: Largo de São Vicente, 1100-572 Lisboa
Feira da Ladra – Flea Market
Each Tuesday and Saturday morning, the streets behind the church of S. Vicente, and the Campo de Sta Clara, are invaded by a crowd selling… everything.
Second hand articles and all you may guess will be there, but not so cheap as in the old days.
If you are careful about pickpockets (and bargaining experts) the place uses to be safe.
Close to the train station of Santa Apolónia and at a walking distance from the city’s centre, in S. Vicente quarter, it’s located the Military Museum.
It’s a large and rich museum, where – forgive me – the main attraction is my grand uncle’s collection of paintings.
No! I was kidding – there’s a big and good collection, in a marvelous palace.
And…yes… those paintings!
Address: Forte do Bom Sucesso, 1400-038 Lisbon
Phone: +351 21 301 7225
Website: Museu Militar
The visit of the Military Museum may be considered “three in one” – the palace, the weapons and the art collections.
In a recent visit I noticed the hard work done to enhance each one of these aspects. The palace was in the old days the arsenal, destroyed by the earthquake in 1755.
Rebuilt immediately, it suffered a few transformations, acquiring the present look in 1905.
Housing also the artillery foundation, it was used as artillery museum until 1926, when it received the present designation.
With several beautiful rooms, the highlights are Vasco da Gama, D. Maria and World War rooms.
Once again, forgive me… the museum’s heart remains WW1 rooms, dominated by… my grand uncle´s paintings. Good God! Staying under heavy bombing, holding only a pencil to capture those dramatic moments must have been…
In my recent visit I visited for the first time the interior “páteo” where we may see now, one of the greatest cannon collections in the world, with cannons from the 14th to the 19th centuries.
Also, part of the basement is used to display the many cannons of the collection.
The most typical quarter in Lisbon is famous for its narrow streets and staircases, but it also has a few wide places where churches and sightseeing points help to observe the intricate maze of the houses and the colorful confusion of roofs.
Alfama allows two different programs – one by day, and the other in the night (Fado being the cherry atop the cake!)
Directions: Between Castelo de São Jorge & Rio Tejo.
Right at the “main door” of Alfama you have Fado Museum. It deserves your visit, and, with luck, it is a good opportunity for listening to fado outside the commercial circuit.
My pictures were taken in the museum, during a recent homage to the fado’s fraternity (Confraria do Fado) chairman – my friend Abel Coutinho
Address: Largo do Chafariz de Dentro 1, 1100-139 Lisboa
Phone: 351 21 882 3470
Website: Museu do Fado
Casa dos Bicos
Built in 1523 by a Portuguese businessman, impressed and inspired by Italian architecture, this odd house has nothing in common with traditional Portuguese architecture, but it is one of the most surprising buildings that survived the earthquake.
Halfway from Terreiro do Paço to Alfama, it is easily seen (and the outside is the only thing you may see).
Address: Rua dos Bacalhoeiros, 1100-135 Lisboa
For long neglected, this typical quarter, by the castle, is one of the most central and accessible. Without great touristy attractions, the quarter is being recovered and cleaned, and it is today a good option to descend from the castle.
Rua do Capelão is a narrow street commonly mentioned in Fado, because it was the residence of Severa, the first great reference of Fado, only surpassed by Amália many years later.
Fado is still present in several small taverns in the area.
Curiously, there’s a small monument to a fado singer that celebrates a least known artist died in 2003.
I knew Fernando Maurício (I think that I may have played guitar to him once or twice in our happenings of fado in my youth), and I remember that he was very appreciated by the experts, but his fable voice never convinced me too much. Born in Rua do Capelão, he had a life totally devoted to Fado, and last September his name was given to a small square in Mouraria where I was now surprised by his bust.
Everybody knows Amalia, but the real first icon of fado was Maria Severa, a reference to Amália herself.
There’s a fado restaurant with her name in Bairro Alto, but she lived and sung in Mouraria, by the castle.
Rua do Capelão, (a known fado theme thanks to Severa), is the place where she lived, with her house well identified.
Several small taverns around her house are now popular places where fado “happens”.
This could be one of the best areas of Lisbon, but it is one of the worst. Not recommended at night, even during the day it may have problems, because of the ethnic and religious minorities that dispute the place for all kind of deals.
If you want some really cheap shopping and accept all the inherent risks, however, this may be your best solution.
City hall made great effort to recover the area, and the results are coming. Martim Moniz is getting better, so much better (at least by day…) that this tip is becoming no more than a memory of the the Lisbon before “touristy revolution”!