Alfama - the original Moorish district of Lisbon

The oldest quarter of the Portuguese capital with a chaotic Moorish building still can not completely throw off the labels of the poor and disadvantaged. Guides do not recommend booking a hotel here and walking alone in the evenings, but Alfama is attracted by the opportunity to come face to face with the daily life of ordinary citizens.
In addition, Alfama - the only quarter of the city that survived the devastating earthquake of 1755. A walk through the quarter, nestled on the rocky slope of one of the Lisbon hills - a great way to get an idea of ​​what the city looked like a few centuries ago, and at the same time to see the panorama of Lisbon from one of the miradouro viewing platforms. Strictly speaking, it was from Alfama that Lisbon began, the name itself comes from the Arabic al-Hamma, that is, “baths, warm springs”. Thanks to the thermal springs that hit the ground, the Moors who occupied most of the Iberian Peninsula had no problems with water supply.On the territory of Alfama for a long time there were hammams and medical sanatoriums with a temperature of water reaching 34 degrees.
After the long expulsion of the foreigners of the Moors from the Pyrenees by the Christians and the completion of the Reconquista, the district first fell into decay, and then the city began to actively expand to the west. Wealthy citizens moved with all their wealth and belongings to more prestigious areas, leaving narrow winding streets to poor marginalized segments of the population - fishermen and laborers settled here, who did not tolerate outsiders on their territory. Since then, when the question "Life or Wallet?" It was not fiction, and the trail of alleged ill-being and insecurity for tourists stretches for Alfama.
Whether the atmosphere of the past affects the current inhabitants of the quarter, or now more or less well-off Portuguese try to move closer to the center as soon as possible - you feel completely different in Alfama than in tourist areas. There are quite few people here, the inhabitants are rushing about their business, not giving you even a fleeting attention; the grannies sticking out of the windows discuss gossips that have accumulated during the day.Signs in English You will hardly find here, and it will be difficult to communicate with sellers in shops or in small family restaurants.
And at the same time, the same sites and guidebooks, which are not advised to go into Alfamu at night, paint unforgettable impressions that you will take with you if you get to a spontaneous concert fado at one of the local eateries. The popular music genre is believed to have originated here, in Alfama at the end of the 19th century.
That evening we had all the chances to find Fadishta with the guitar more than once. From June 12 to June 13, the day of St. Anthony, one of the patrons of the city, is celebrated in Lisbon. Tables are put on the streets and sardines are roasted on the coals, which are traditionally served with boiled potatoes. It was almost impossible to escape from the noise, din and smell of fried fish, as well as finding a place to dine - all the restaurants, not only in Alfam, were packed with locals and tourists, and the menu, such a feeling, was reduced to just one dish.
In honor of the holiday on the balconies, residents hung out state flags and decorated the streets with colorful banners.
Alfam is most reasonable because of the multilevel relief and the narrowness of the winding streets to walk.It will be extremely difficult to park the car, there is no metro station nearby, and the route of the tram at number 28 captures only a small part of the area. Before going to the quarter, stock up on a detailed map, finding your way around is problematic and getting lost is as easy as in the medina of Arab countries - the legacy of the Moors makes itself felt.
As such, the usual sights in Alfame - one, two and obchelsya. The architectural dominant of the area is the monastery of San Vicente de Fora (Igreja de Sao Vicente de Fora), founded in the middle of the XII century by the first king of Portugal and dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa, the second patron of the city along with St. Anthony.
Saint Vincent was burned during the persecutions of the Roman emperor Diocletian in the 304th year. The relics of the holy martyr, after more than 800 years, came to Lisbon, and are now kept in the Cathedral of Valencia. Images of Vincent are found on city walls covered with traditional azulezhu tiles.
In principle, Alfama is the best place in Lisbon to get acquainted with the variety of Portuguese tiles of Azulejo. The facades of the whole can be faced with simple ornaments, or individual plots are presented in the form of panels on the walls of the battered and dilapidated houses of the quarter.
Adjacent to the monastery of San Vicente de Fora is the second dominant of the area - the national Pantheon, the church of Santa Engrasia (Igreja de Santa Engrácia). What is surprising, they built a pantheon for almost 300 years, the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is resting! In the place of the church of St. Engras from the provincial town of Braga at the end of the seventeenth century they decided to erect a magnificent cathedral that would eclipse all the churches of Lisbon with their grandeur. Whether the budget was calculated or the contractor escaped overseas to a private brigantine full of gold chests, the construction fell on for two centuries. At the beginning of the 20th century, an attempt was made to complete what had begun and not to be included in the ratings of long-term construction projects, but still this stage was again stretched out. It was finished in 1966, when the dome crowning the pantheon was erected.
Inside the pantheon, you can see the tombs of the footballer Eusebio and the queen fado Amalie Rodrigues, as well as the cenotaphs, monuments to the heroes of Portugal - Vasco da Gama, Heinrich the Navigator and others. It is usually customary to organize a square near such large religious buildings, but they decided not to change the historical chaotic buildings of Alfama with its inclined narrow streets.Pantheon emerges from the corner suddenly and just as rapidly disappears after the next turn.
We decided not to go inside the monastery and the pantheon, it was much more interesting to feel the flavor of Alfama, the negligence and simplicity of this oldest Lisbon quarter, something like the back streets of Italian and Spanish cities.
In Italy and Spain, in residential areas that are remote from the main tourist trails, the same quiet and measured atmosphere is also hung out to dry clothes at home.
Another reason to get to Alfama is observation platforms, miradouro. Since the area is historically advantageous located at the foot of one of the hills, climbing higher and higher along the streets of the quarter, you will sooner or later go to the terrace, where panoramic views will open to almost the whole of Lisbon, and they will be, as a result, more expressive and voluminous than if you take the old Santa Justa elevator in the very center of the city.
From here, not only the whole Alfama quarter, but also the tourist center of the prestigious Baisha district, and the ruins of the Carmelite monastery, and in the distance - the strip of the River Tejo with a bridge hanging over it on April 25 will be in full view.
On another hill is the castle of St. George, partially destroyed by an earthquake of 1755.A strategically well-located fortification served the Romans, then the Moors rebuilt it, but the powerful walls could not hold back the troops of the first king of Portugal, Afonso I, in the 1147th year.
Among the general panorama with the prevalence of red, orange and yellow colors, the contrasting spot was a large drawing of the Portuguese street artist AkaCorleone. Since it’s not too far from this miradouro, he didn’t include this frame in a separate review of street art of Lisbon.
In the distance, you can see the modern boring building, bright and warm colors are replaced by cold shades of concrete and high-rise stone.
Tiled roofs, stretch marks with dried linen, colored facades with peeling paint and cracked azulejo tiles - these are the memories that come up with the word “Alfama”.
Returning to the topic of graffiti and street art, I note that the advice to go to Alfamu for street art should not be trusted. Yes, it is difficult to pass by the picture dedicated to Fado, which fell on the souvenir cards, but otherwise much more visual garbage, tags and absolutely unremarkable drawings. From the height of miradouro, the lens captured a daub (and otherwise I can’t call such pictures) of the Italian trio Cane Morto.They probably have more visually pleasing works, but this is not the first time that I come across such primitivism. However, the beautiful roofs of Alfama restore balance.
On the streets of Alfama, smoothly flowing into the neighboring quarter of Muraria, another art project met that deserves attention. A string of black and white photographs of elderly Portuguese.
Photographer Camilla Watson took a series of shots of elderly Portuguese living in the quarter, who are, in her opinion, the personification of the spirit that has developed in Muraria and Alfame community. Probably many of them are no longer alive, but they continue to look at the measured life of the area from their own walls.
In this distinctive area, where everyone seems to know each other, the seals are obviously obliged to run in whole packs. Actually, I got only one tail.
It is easy to stumble upon a workshop or shop with an assortment of non-trivial souvenirs, which differs from typical magnets with azulezh ornaments and a depiction of the famous Lisbon yellow tram.
You can’t say that the time in Alfame flows differently or slower than the rest of Lisbon, but the atmosphere of the area, I repeat, is different.It is as if you find yourself in a small village or village, only nominally related to the capital on territorial grounds, but living according to its charters and laws and not seeking to let something into your life from outside.
Therefore, it was impossible even to sneak a picture of all the colorful grannies in the windows. It’s not as aggressively opposed to photography as in Morocco, but nevertheless you are a stranger to the residents of the area, as in the post-Eurasian period, except that your presence is treated a bit more condescendingly. Walked, looked, as we live - now leave. So it remains to be content with common urban views and various authentic details.
I am neither the first nor the last who walked around Alfame and returned with similar impressions. It is possible that someone will say with foaming at the mouth what kind of soulful and wonderful people there are, how they sang Fado with him in the arms until the morning, as he was treated to sardines and homemade pashteishs behind a cup of strong bik coffee or pingado.
To visit Lisbon and not to go to Alfama - and this development of events has the right to exist. And yet, for the sake of completeness, it is better to go to this distinctive quarter with shabby old buildings and a labyrinth of inclined narrow streets, where it is extremely difficult for two cars to disperse,and you can easily get lost and lost.

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