Lisbon has a diverse musical culture which is the citys national musical treasure Fado. There are two basic types of Fado which is Lisbon and Coimbra. In Lisbon it is usually sung by a solo performer. The intensely melancholic songs are usually about love, woes, and pains, or express sadness and longing for things that were lost or that were never accomplished, but in Coimbra, it also occasionally contains humor and political undertones.
‘Fado’, the urban ‘folk’ song of Portugal, has recently been inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Heritage, so visit Lisbon and discover for yourself this plaintive music that links Afro-Brazilian music with local genres of song and dance. Fado is generally performed by a solo male or female singer, accompanied by an acoustic guitar and the Portuguese guitarra, a pear-shaped twelve-stringed lute. It’s a musical form that draws on many different historical and cultural elements, and its home is Lisbon, specifically the Alfama district and the Bairro Alto.It emerged as a bohemian art form in Lisbon’s working-class districts of Alfama and Mouraria in the late 18th century, and gradually moved up-market.
When visiting Lisbon, spending a night at a “casa de Fado” or Fado restaurant is an essential experience. There are many in the Bairro Alto district, but the most authentic are found in Alfama.
Clube de Fado
Owned by a Fado guitarist, this is one of the most atmospheric Fado clubs. Located close to the cathedral in Alfama, it has an intimate dining room that maintains ancient stone columns, arches, and a Moorish well. The food and the performers are traditional, although younger stars also perform. Location: Rua de São João da Praça, 92-94, Alfama Phone: 21 888 2694 Website: http://www.clube-de-fado.com
Parreirinha de Alfama
Eager locals see Parreirinha de Alfama as one of the best Fado venues. Although it often attracts a large number of tourists, it is reasonably authentic. Located just off Largo do Chafariz de Dentro by the Fado Museum, it often attracts big name performers.
Location Beco do Espirito Santo, 1, Alfama Phone: 21 886 8209
This is the most reputable, authentic, and sophisticated of all the Fado Houses, owned by one of the country’s top Fado performers, Maria da Fé. Several singers perform during the course of the evening and the food is excellent. Location: Rua do Meio à Lapa, 18, Lapa Phone: 21 397 7456 Website: http://www.srvinho.com