The oldest district of Lisbon
It spreads down the southern slope from the Castle of São Jorge to the River Tagus. Its name, derived from the Arabic Al-hamma, means fountains or baths. During the Islamic invasion of Iberia, the Alfama constituted the largest part of the city, extending west to the Baixa neighbourhood. Increasingly, the Alfama became inhabited by fishermen and the poor: its fame as a poor neighbourhood continues to this day.
It is an historical quarter of mixed-use buildings occupied by Fado bars, restaurants, and homes with small shops downstairs.
While the 1755 Lisbon earthquake caused considerable damage throughout the capital, the Alfama survived with little damage, thanks to its compact labyrinth of narrow streets and small squares. It is an historical quarter of mixed-use buildings occupied by Fado bars, restaurants, and homes with small shops downstairs. Modernising trends have invigorated the district: old houses have been re-purposed or remodelled, while new buildings have been constructed. Fado, the typically Portuguese style of melancholy music, is common (but not obligatory) in the restaurants of the district.