Portugal has a diverse musical culture – from the French Provençal strain in the folk music of the north of the country, to Fado, the country’s national musical treasure.
There are two basic styles of Fado: Lisbon and Coimbra. In Lisbon it is always sung by a solo performer, while in Coimbra it is often performed by groups of male university students. They are accompanied by two guitarists, one playing the melody on a twelve-stringed Portuguese guitar (descendant of the English guitar introduced into Portugal by the British community in Porto in the 19th century), and the other supplying the rhythm on the six-stringed viola. 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.
It was Amalia Rodrigues in the 20th century who made Fado known beyond Portugal, performing all over Europe, Japan, South America, and even in the United States, in New York’s “La Vie en Rose” in the 1950s. She’s been credited with defining the style of the music, and when she died in 1999, the government declared three days of national mourning and awarded her a state funeral. As a national icon, she is buried in Lisbon’s National Pantheon.
If you are interested in knowing more about the history of Fado, you should visit the Fado Museum.
Alfama is known for its historic relationship with fado and we can provide accommodation in Alfama Patio Hostel. This way you can not only enjoy a historic experience in Lisbon, rich in music and great food, as you’ll also be part of it.