If any district in Lisbon screams ancient history, it is the funky Alfama district. We just loved wandering these narrow passageways.
Its medieval streets and alleys twist and wind their way around the hill that it sits on.
Talk about history!
A village was started here by the Visigoths.
There are some remains of a Roman Theater.
It was a rich district during Moorish times.
Now it is the home of Lisbon's fishermen.
The tangle of streets have a romantic shabbiness that reflects all of this.
Feel free to climb up through this warren of streets...
But to save your legs, consider taking a tram up.
Then make the walk back down to the Tagus River.
The old yellow trams still climb the hill into the Alfama.
Tram number 28 will take you on a ride back into old Lisbon.
If you ride it all the way, it will take you on about a 45 minute ride.
Catch it in the city center.
Ride past the Lisbon Cathedral, the oldest church in the city, at the lower entrance to the Alfama, all the way up to St. George's Castle.
Get off at the top of the hill.
Take in the view of the city from the St. George's Castle before you walk around.
Just sit there for a while.... soak in the view of the city... think about this little country and how much exploring it did in the world.
The oldest parts of the castle date from the 6th century.
Most of it has been destroyed through the years, but long sections of wall and 18 towers still stand.
Because it is on bedrock, most of the rest of this district escaped damage in the 1755 earthquake which destroyed much of the rest of the city.
Some of the buildings below the castle have been renovated and turned into some of Lisbon's most atmospheric hotels.
If you want to lose yourself in the ambiance of the Alfama, consider one of these hotels.
Don't be afraid of getting lost in the maze of alleys and narrow streets as you descend through this village within a city.
You will stumble upon tiny squares and old churches.
Laundry will flap overhead.
Suddenly you'll come out onto a viewpoint with beautiful views, and you'll no longer be lost.
Revel in niches and walls decorated with Azulejos de Lisboa, the
decorative blue tiles of Lisbon. You'll find then on almost every little street in the district.
There is even a Tile Museum (Museu do Azulejo). This museum is a little out of the way.
If you want to see it, you might want to take a taxi there, but you can enjoy plenty of the blue tiles just wandering through the little streets.
The Bairro Alto may be the city's traditional Fado district, but you can hear plenty of it here too.
Fado is that sad music... the plaintive tunes sung by the widows of Portugal's fishermen.
If you're really into museums, there is a Fado Museum, though we think it's more fun just to experience the music.
On Tuesdays and Saturdays, there is a flea market...
...the Feira Da Ladra or "Thieves' Market".
There has been a market here on the edge of this historic district for most of its history.
There are hand made artisan goods and some antiques as well as just....
...well flea market stuff.
Lisbon's ancient Cathedral at the foot of the hill was built in the 12th century. It is Lisbon's oldest building. It's stark exterior resembles a medieval fortress.
Inside see the baptismal font that was used to baptize Saint Anthony... yes, THE Saint Anthony. He was born in Lisbon.
Enjoy a meal of traditional food at a little place on one of those winding streets.
Try the local dry wine, branco seco...
Just dive in and enjoy the Alfama for what it is.... a colorful piece of Lisbon's history.