Mouraria, cradle of Fado

The Mouraria is below the Castelo de São Jorge. Mouraria is one of the few neighborhoods that were not destroyed in the Lisbon earthquake of 1755.

You can live right in the middle of this historic neighborhood (!) – see our historic penthouse, Mouraria I.

Despite some urban development measures in the 1940s to 1960s, the old quarter of narrow streets is run down and one of the poorest areas of the city. There live relatively many older people and foreigners.

In its history the area has always experienced waves of immigration, most recently by Africans and Chinese and Bangladeshen. The traditionally multicultural district is partially restored.

The tourist-known line 28E Lisbon tram drives through the Mouraria.  Mouraria is known as the birthplace of modern fado.

Mouraria – meaning the Moorish quarter – is one of the most traditional neighborhoods of Lisbon. It takes its name from the fact that D. Afonso Henriques, after the reconquest of Lisbon, confined an area of the city for the Moors/Muslims. This neighborhood was for the Moors who remained after the Christian reconquest. In turn, the Jews were confined to the quarters the Castelo Sao Jorge.

Mouraria borders with Castelo (you will not notice as you go from Mouraria to Castelo)
about which the famous portuguese writer, Fernando Pessoa, wrote in ´Lisbon – what the tourist should see´;

The tourist should not miss going up to Castelo Sao Jorge (Saint George castle) which is built on an eminence which commands a view of the Tagus and of a great part of the city. The castle has three chief doors, known as Trason, Martim Moniz, and São Jorge doors. The three are very ancient. The castle itself is remarkable enough. It was built by the Moors and formed, so it seems, part of the defences of Lisbon, with its thick walls, its battlements and its towers. There did kings dwell; and it was the scene of many a remarkable event in the political history of Portugal.
Nowadays, though surrounded and choked by a great number of houses, full of barracks, modified, spoilt and mutilated by earthquakes and misuse, it is still worth seeing for what it once was. The view from the castle is marvellous.

Mouraria and Castelo Sao Jorge









After the opening in the 1990’s of a Mall known as the Centro Commercial de Mouraria, the neighbourhood became a very busy place with many shops. Mouraria has become a meeting point for peoples of different cultures and, while simultaneously, keeping alive their ancient folk traditions, as confirmed by the existence of houses of fado, bars, taverns, tascas (low-end restaurants), etc.

Apart from that, the area north of Martim Moniz – or in other words, walking up the main street Avenida Almirante Reis – the neighborhood known as Intendente has undergone something of a transformation the past years.

The square Largo do Intendente has revived in a few years to become one of the most popular ares in Lisbon for restaurants and nightlife. There are so several fascinating bars and several have a private with candles on the tables and homey decor – this applies, for example to Casa Independente

Intendente has actually blossomed so much that it has become so trendy that is has probably Lisbon’s only dedicated bike shop!


More recently the many of the so-called Outjazz events  – – on Martim Moniz has drawn big numbers of both locals and visitors to the square too. The square with Praca da Figueira and Rossio constitute Lisbon downtown.

In this and the surrounding neighborhoods, originated the first productions of Portuguese Mudejar art, that would give way for the emergence of the Manueline style.


Mouraria is also the cradle of the best known music genre from Portugal, Fado. Fado is believed to have been born in Rua de Capelao where the founding mother of fado, Maria Severa Onofriana, sang the new kind of music for the first time around 1840 (she sadly passed away in 1846 only 26 years old).


The most famous fado singer of all times, Amalia Rodrigues, had a number of successes and one of the biggest of them all was called ‘Ai Mouraria’. Also the most famous fado singer nowadays, Mariza (has appeared in David Letterman show amongst others), has a link to here as she grew up here in the 1970’s and started singing fado in Mouraria.

You can learn more about the area of Mouraria on Wikipedia and about Lisbon as such at wikivoyage.

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Mouraria, cradle of Fado