The Allure of Alfama

Come along! We haven’t the time to delay! Come with me, and let me take you on a little stroll through my favourite part of Lisbon, the Alfama District.



The Alfama’s roots linger in the Muslim occupation of Lisbon which dated from around 711 – 1108. Originally called Al-Hamma, this is Lisbon’s oldest district and area in which the Muslim influence is still felt and seen today. Alfama still retains its labyrinth of towering houses, narrow winding streets and intimidatingly steep narrow stairwells, that both do a grand job of confusing visitors.

Alfama’s location by the River Tejo leads me to believe that the original purpose of such a bewildering muddle of streets was a defence strategy. Perhaps the tall buildings was a strategy to keep the street level cooler in the glaring sun? It is thought that the layout and structure of the area was a contributing factor in Alfama’s survival of the great earthquake of 1755. The quake nearly obliterated Portugal and destroyed 85% of Lisbon alone, killing around 40,000 people.


Today, like ever before, Alfama is also associated with poverty. However, despite the run-down appearance of the area, we never felt threatened at any point, not even when we were still lurking about after sunset. There is a strong sense of community here and even us as strangers could feel it resonating through the cobbles.


The best way to get to Alfama is by tram. From then on, it’s down to your feet so wear wise footwear and your instinct…..go where you will!


If you are lucky enough to spot an old lady grilling sardines on the road side at the Porta D’Alfama eaterie then you absolutely MUST stop for a bite and a glass of something!


If we were to move to Lisbon (grand lottery win depending), I could see us living here. It is an inspiring place with a warm heart, humble clothing, beautiful face and a profoundly boundless soul. This is our kind of place.


I hope that you have enjoyed our little stroll. Let’s do this again sometime.


Photography credit: Porto Foto. Salut!

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