Fado is the soundtrack of Lisbon. Melancholy, ironic, proud and beautiful, the sound of this traditional music is a reflection of the city’s soul. Therefore, you should never leave Lisbon without listening to fado.
Similar to tango and flamenco, fado is a musical genre that originated in the taverns. It was born in the 19th century to the heat of wine, amongst humble people, bar tables and narrow streets in port neighbourhoods such as Alfama. Its name derives from Latin and means “fate/destiny”. In fado, sweet and profound voices, sing sad songs about love, the absence of love, difficult things in life, nostalgia for their land and frustrated desires. Fado is very expressive music that if listened to live, is a very intense experience.
One of the most famous fado singers was Amália Rodrigues, who was commonly known as the “Queen of fado”. Nowadays, fado is quite popular and recognized worldwide thanks to artists such as Dulce Pontes, Mariza, Carlos do Carmo, Camané and Misia.
The best fado houses in Lisbon can be found in the Alfama, Bairro Alto and Mouraria districts. Quite often you can listen to live fado whilst enjoying a typical Portuguese meal.
The best places to listen to Fado in Lisbon are the following:
Casa de Linhares (Beco dos Armazéns do Linho, 2) – Replacing what was the Casa de los Condes de Linhares, this elegant fado house has some of the best female singers on the current fado panorama, such as Raquel Tavares and Ana Moura.
Cristal Fados (Travessa da Queimada, 9) – A small and pleasant bar. Its walls are covered in a mosaic mirror which reflect the light of the candles, creating an intimate atmosphere. Here you can eat whilst listening to the intense sound of fado in Lisbon by diverse artists.
Tasca do Chico (Rua do Diario de Noticias, 39) – This isn’t a place to eat. It is a popular café and bar, small and intimate, where there is fado sung every Monday and Wednesdays. It is usually quite crowded.
Taverna do Embuçado (Beco dos Curtumes,10) – A very typical restaurant, with traditional rustic-style decoration and candles on the tables providing a romantic atmosphere. They have a good selection of wines and do varied shows.
A Severa (Rua de Gaveas,51)- Another very popular fado in Lisbon house where you can try typical Portuguese dishes accompanied by the sound of fado. It was named after Maria Severa Onofriana, a great fado Singer from the 19th century.