Stroll through the narrow alleys of Lisbon is visiting a city of another time, where commercial space projects of our time appear between Windows of drying rope and flowerpots here and there.
Founded in the Muslim period, the popular districts of Alfama and Mouraria keep the structure of its labyrinthine streets and its memory of the past.
The real charm of these neighborhoods is in its narrow streets connected to small squares from where staircases climbe the narrow streets and colourful alleys.
Traditional stores, groceries, drugstores etc can still be found in these neighborhoods, they are the resistance against the hyper and supermarkets.
This streets are the privileged stage of the celebrations of Saint Anthony, the popular culture festival arising out of the city in June. Nevertheless these neighborhoods are increasingly animated throughout the remaining years, with the arrival of younger people to their homes and remodeled stores, restaurants and night spots of a more alternative nature.
Like Mouraria, Alfama is one of the oldest districts of Lisbon, founded by the Arabs who gave the name "Al-hama" (the fountains). At every turn you will find alleys, squares and courtyards, some of them very beautiful as "Calçadinha de Santo Estêvão" and also the oldest fountain in town, such as Chafariz Real and Chafariz de Dentro.
These narrow and disordered streets of Alfama were not made for the enjoyment of visitors or to make courageous drivers despair, but rather to better defend and ventilate their homes.
Its more and more commum to see these beautiful streets populated with young people that by mixing the modern with the traditional they give a new life to the neighborhood. look for Portas do Sol in you would like to be a meal in a cool portuguese restaurant, or for just a simple coffe with a view.
Mouraria (Moorish quarter)
Mouraria is one of the most traditional neighborhoods of Lisbon. Its name was born after the conquest of Lisbon by D. Afonso Henriques, where the king confined all Muslims to this neighborhood.
It was in these neighborhoods that originated the first productions of Portuguese Mudejar art who later would open the way to the emergence of the Manueline style, as exemplified by the iconic Jeronimos Monastery in the suburb of Belém castle tower.
Mouraria has also been home to some of the most famous Portuguese fado singers. Maria Severa, the first fado singer and an icon ever since, was born in Capelão street. Fernando Mauricio, another of the great icons of Fado, and further up in the Lane Lagares, Mariza one of todays geat singers grew up.
Mouraria is still full of contrasts. There is strong presence of the Portuguese culture in these streets loaded with popular traditions that goes hand in hand with other cultural worlds from China, India, Pakistan, Nepal, ... and where the smells, noise and colors cross our senses.
In recent years, Mouraria has been the subject of intensive restoration work of its buildings and streets, as a consequence of the higher demand for pituresque and charming homes in the heart of Lisbon.
One of the great attractions of Mouraria, in addition to wander through its beautiful streets are the Indian and Chinese restaurants, some of them illegal, but a great opportunity to taste some authentic cousine with flavours quite different from most traditional restaurants.
A little further up, mingling with the upper part of the Alfama, you will reach Graça neighborhood, where you can still see some of the houses from the early industruial area of the 19 century.
The great attraction of this district is the viewpoint that offers spectacular views of the city, seized by terraces and good restaurants in the area. You can also go to the square of ossa Senhora da Graça.
Source: Myguide.com adapted