Alfama comes from the Arabic word Al-hamma, meaning hot fountains or baths. Of all the districts of Lisbon, Alfama is one of the most characteristic and also the oldest. Some say it was founded by the Visigoths in fifth century, after the fall of the Roman Empire.
One of the best places from which you can admire Lisbon in its beauty is the Miradouro das Portas do Sol on the way to the Saint George’s Castle. It offers a breathtaking view of Lisbon and the river Tagus. The great Earthquake of 1775 did not destroy Alfama, which has remained a picturesque labyrinth of narrow irregular streets, small hidden gardens, alleyways and stairways, traditional shops and houses covered with tiles. The Arabic influence can be seen in some of the old streets with irregular shape, a picturesque medieval street-scape where people chat in the streets and children play. There’s iron balconies decorated with flower pots with small birds in cages. Usually old ladies are at the window, smiling or talking to their neighbor.
There’s the Cathedral of Saint Mary Major, founded in 1150, a sublime example of Romanesque style. When you’re going back to downtown, don’t forget to stop at Pois Café.
Alfama, a neighborhood that is the symbol of Lisbon, where one can hear Fado in a traditional Tasca, far from the tourist traps, in the heart of the city. You can’t tell anyone you’ve been to Lisbon without visiting Alfama and discussing football inside a small Tasca after some beers.