Fado Bar © endless autumn
As wonderful as Lisbon's historical area of Alfama is by day, its culture can be even better experienced at night, in one of the legendary Fado Bars of the area. Fado (meaning 'fate' or 'destiny') is a traditional genre of music dating back to the early 19th century, and characterised by mournful songs about ill-starred sailors.
Essential to the music is the emotion of nostalgia - or in Portuguese, sausade, the sensation of loss and its permanent and life-changing consequences. Fado music is traditionally performed by two or more musicians (usually men), using Portuguese guitars and violas to augment the hauntingly sad vocals.
An immensely popular pastime amongst Portuguese locals, the atmosphere inside any one of the Alfama area's Fado Bars can be truly magical on any given night - and tourists to Lisbon are strongly encouraged to join in and become part of the unique (and strangely therapeutic) atmosphere.