Travel

Alfama is one of Portugal’s oldest districts, and since the hilly area is filled with sets of stairs and narrow alleys, it’s best explored by foot (though the 1930’s-style tram that makes up the only public transportation here is worth hopping on for fun). The neighborhood’s never really been tony, and though hipsters have taken over several restaurants and storefronts, the original community is still very much intact thanks to generous rent control programs. There are several attractions worth exploring while you’re here. Start with Castelo de São Jorge, the beautifully restored site of the Christians’ 12th-century defeat of the Moors, where there are tons of lookouts with views of the sea and surrounding neighborhoods. Also visit the Church of St. Anthony, the birthplace of its namesake, the patron saint of lovers—newly married couples often leave flowers here in hopes of a happy marriage, and single people try to throw coins into his book for good luck finding a partner. Though it’s not a must, it’s fun to check out the Fado Museum, which memorializes a specific musical style born in Alfama: a solemn, dramatic singing and guitar style originally sung by the wives of sailors at sea. Photos: Dirk Olberz

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