The old district of Alfama

The Alfama  is the oldest district of Lisbon, spreading on the slope between the São Jorge Castle and the Tejo river.

Its name is believed to come from the Arabic Al-hamma, meaning “hot fountains” or “baths”.

During the times of Moorish domination, Alfama constituted the whole of the city, which later spread to the West (Baixa neighbourhood).

It’s a twisty labyrinth of narrow streets and small squares.

Lately the neighbourhood has been invigorated with the renovation of the old houses and new restaurants where Fado, the Portuguese’s soulful melancholy music, drifts out of darkened doorways.

This means that a walk through this neighbourhood feels like a step back in time as the architecture and streets are so much older than the rest of the city.

Because its foundation is dense bedrock Alfama survived the 1755 earthquake that destroyed Lisbon and its surroundings.


It is a village within a city still made up of narrow streets, tiny squares, churches, and whitewashed houses with decorative tiles and wrought-iron balconies adorned with pots of flowers, drying laundry, and caged birds.

That’s all for now folks. Next up we head to Belem, crammed full of incredible architecture and monuments.


Lisbon colours and corners

Lisbon is alive with colour, blink and you miss it details and delights around every corner.

It’s also famous for its cute little trams that whizz up and down the steep cobbled streets. Two not to miss are number 28 that takes you winding through the old Alfama district and over blood curdling hills.

The other is number 15, a new tram that takes you all the way out to Belem where many architectural delights away you (more of that later)

Modern street art can be found all around the city. Here’s a multicoloured example.

Sacred heart tiles are ones I have never encountered before!

Again I’m delighted by the multitude of religiously themed tiles, coloured walls and window ledge gardens.

Lot’s more colourful details to follow!


Return to the blogging!

It’s been a while readers but I’m finally back and on the blog again! Blame DIY and a curious case of Globus Hystericus for my lengthy absence!

But I’ve not been sitting still during this prolonged radio silence so with no further ado let’s look at the latest trip – Lisbon, Sintra and Cascais!

I’ve been to Portugal a few times in the past but it’s only ever been to the Algarve area. While there is lots of out of the way places there it never feels particularly off the beaten track.

But this trip provided us with a slightly more rugged, wilder side of this little country.

Starting off our ten day trip we headed to Lisbon, the busy capital city and stayed in the delightful Sao Mamede 29

Situated in the old Alfama district this gorgeous airy flat was within walking distance of two metro stations, a large supermarket, the castle and other attractions.

Colourful Lisbon has a host of details to catch the eye including the ubiquitous detailed tiling found on nearly every house and the soulful Fado music drifting out of darkened bar doorways.

First on our trot out –  a visit to the city’s São Jorge Castle. Perched high on a hillside overlooking the hustle and bustle the Moorish castle has seen the rise and fall of a fair few civilisations.

The views from the castle are hazy but far reaching. An impressive panorama of the city can be viewed from its ramparts.

The castle walls and towers were constructed during the Moorish occupation of Lisbon.

The fortifications make for an impressive sight to wander around and enjoy.

The vivid green of the old moat contrasts pleasingly with the weathered old wall.

There are lots of quirky little details to spot and a glut of peacocks strutting about.

Definitely worth whiling away a few hours if you get the chance to visit – there’s even an elevator that will take you part of the way up the steep hill to save your legs.