Alfama (pronounced al-fa-ma) is Lisbon’s Moorish district: a medina-like neighbourhood of narrow and maze-like streets at the foot of the city’s medieval castle, known as Castelo de São Jorge.
Alfama comes from the Arabic name al-hammâ, which means “City of the Baths”. It is Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood, and one of the most typical.
During the Moorish occupation (711-1147), Alfama was actually the city of Lisbon, progressively spreading to the Baixa over the years. It was traditionally inhabited by fishermen and the lower classes. Curiously, many buildings in Alfama survived the 1755 earthquake, unlike those in the Baixa district.
Today, Alfama is a popular tourist area, well known for its fado restaurants. The song, inscribed on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, is said to have be born here. Alfama is also the epicentre of Lisbon’s festivities. If you visit in June, don’t miss the famous arraiais (street parties) during the Feast of St Anthony.
Top Attractions in Alfama & Graça
- The Sé (Lisbon’s Cathedral)
- Miradouro de Santa Luzia (Viewpoint)
- Miradouro das Portas do Sol (Viewpoint)
- Castelo de São Jorge (Lisbon’s Castle)
- Igreja de São Vicente de Fora (Church of São Vicente de Fora)
- Feira da Ladra (Flea Market)
- Panteão Nacional (National Pantheon)
- Streets of Alfama
- Museu do Fado (Fado Museum)
- Museu do Azulejo (Tile Museum)