Sometimes it's difficult to summarize a place when you're still there. Sometimes it's impossible no matter the distance. Lisbon is like that. Case in point: Alfama. The oldest surviving section of Lisbon’s 1755 earthquake, these medieval alleyways comprise a neighborhood where balconies are strung with drying laundry, walls are tiled, and pigeons strut down stairwells.
Despite having the Lisbon Lux walking tour in hand, I got lost several times as I stumbled from the Portas do Sol viewpoint down the labyrinthe streets. I discovered defunct fountains and a locals-only cafe where I ate a tostas queijo (grilled cheese) and finished with a galão (latte) and pastel de nata (Portuguese egg tart). On my walk, I came across few people, many pigeons, and several surreptitious Catholic shrines draped in wilting flower chains, incense burned at the feet of saints. The Igreja de São Miguel was closed, leaving its gilded interiors to my imagination. As evening neared, I meandered through the dusk-lit Lisbon Cathedral. Alone in the cloisters where Roman ruins are being excavated, I stood on planks and wondered what streets lie beneath the ones on which I’d walked for hours. But then the trolleys outside shattered the silence, a pigeon shifted in its roost, and the tombs of noblemen seemed to grumble against a growing wind. I walked into a square busy with rush hour as the sun set on the rooftops of Alfama and I attempted, with only the city as my compass, to find my way home.
Feijoada is a stew of beans, pork, and beef and is a typical Portuguese dish. Literally translated it means "bean-ade". The hearty dish can be found in most traditional Portuguese restaurants - and where more locals eat, the better!
Outdoors cafes in Alfama, Lisbon, Castelo S. Jorge
Just outside Castelo S. Jorge in Alfama area in Lisbon, there are so many outdoors cafes and gift shops for tourists. When you visit the Castle, I highly recommend to stay a bit in this area and walk along the narrow streets, enjoy the breeze (as it is located on a hill) and enjoy a light lunch.
Alfama is the oldest district in Lisbon. It used to be inhabited by fishermen and the poor before, but today it is a historical quarter of homes and small businesses, with maze of narrow streets and small squares.
By AFAR Traveler
Streets of Alfama
One of the only areas to survive the great earthquake of 1755 that leveled the city, walking through Alfama is like stepping back in time. The area contains tiny cobblestone alleys, white washed houses, panoramic views of the city, churches, restaurants, and even a castle. The streets are a winding maze, making it a great place to get lost and take in the history of the city.