Didem Doğan

Fado in Alfama

Numerous red tile roofs under the sky, roofs large or small, short or tall; trams which go up and down the hill, and the ripple of a river seen through the canopy of these roofs. Alfama, which comes from the word “al hammam” in Arabic, is the name of the old town in Lisbon. It is a medieval place that was built in a valley between São Jorge Castle and the Tejo River. It was the residence of the monarchy until the 16th century and is a city which has existed since the Arabic reign. You may head to the small squares nested among steep hills and passing by crossroads, you’ll arrive at the terraces called “mirador” where you can admire the view of the city. While walking on the narrow streets of Alfama, we followed our instincts and let our feet take control. We find ourselves in a Fado club which is a performance hall with wooden tables and it looks like a Spanish painting; it is one of the houses with a mezzanine which was renovated during the renewal of the old city... Musicians have not taken the stage yet; Mariza, the world famous Fado singer, cries out for Alfama in the background music: “When it gets dark in Lisbon like a sail boat without a wing, Alfama seems like a house without windows... smells like loneliness, smells like silence.” Fado makes everyone cry, even those who do not speak Portuguese. One of the places you can listen to Fado is Clube de Fado, a typical Alfama house with wooden tables, pictures of numerous famous visitors on its walls.