An accompaniment to the city’s history, Fado grew out of the old quarters of Mouraria, Alfama, Bairro Alto and Madragoa.
With themes of fate and conflict, this traditional music was shared by noblemen, vagrants and seafarers alike, frequently being sung in a way that displayed intense suffering. Fado also has a lighter side, describing the conquests, love affairs and different life experience of each neighbourhood, immortalised by the artist José Malhoa in his famous paintings of the Fado.
The music’s fame was gradually built up in the Fado houses, where only those with a professional licence could sing.
Amália was the most charismatic of these early Fado singers and the first to take the music overseas. Possessing a great stage presence and being a natural entertainer, Amália left us with the classical image of the traditional Fado singer in a black dress and shawl. Her former residence is now a museum that is well worth a visit.
In 2011, Fado was classified as a Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
The intimacy of a restaurant or Fado house is still the best way of enjoying this music. A night spent listening to Fado by candlelight is a unique and unforgettable experience.