Friday, 21 April 2017

Fado

The origin of fado is controversial, and there are those who relate it to the chanting of the muslims who remained in Lisbon after the 12th century’s Christian reconquest and those who associate it to the songs of the sailors involved in the portuguese discoveries that started in the 14th century.

However, the most likely hypothesis is that fado, with an urban matrix resultant of the different cultures existing in Lisbon, was born and imposed itself in the mid-19th century, from the fusion of a kind of popular songs ("modinhas") with others of afro-brazilian origin ("lundum").

Initially associated with the populace and with those who frequented the alleys, taverns and brothels of the capital’s old historical neighborhoods, fado was fast accepted by the higher socio-economic classes and even by the nobles, who introduced it in aristocratic salons, making it more melodic, literary and artistic.

Despite the impulse given by the radio broadcast, theatre, cinema and by the "casas de fado” (fado houses) born in the meantime, it was only in the 50s of the last century that fado surpassed boundaries and was projected worldwide, thanks to the greatest fado singer ever: Amália Rodrigues.

It is, in general, a sad song that expresses the nostalgia, melancholy and saudade (longing, missing) of the Portuguese people. It speaks of love, jealousy, pain and of the misfortunes of fate, and it may also be sometimes associated with bullfighting, religious themes, bucolic themes, etc.. Nowadays, it is almost always sung at night, by a man or a woman, the latter standing out in black clothing and with the traditional shawl. It is accompanied by Portuguese guitar (a 12 string instrument, with a pear-shaped box) and viola.

Classified by UNESCO, in 2011, as World Intangible Cultural Heritage, fado is the greatest Portuguese musical symbol, and, especially, the song of the city of Lisbon.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Graça District

Located on the highest hill of Lisbon, the Graça District, is one of the oldest and most beautiful districts in the city.

Right next to the iconic Castle of St. George, where around the birth of our nation a huge olive grove was located, Graça is known for the superb view that two well-known viewpoints provide, the Miradouro da Graça and Miradouro da Senhora do Monte.

Graça is one of Lisbon’s most beautiful and oldest districts that saw its number of inhabitants increase after the devastating earthquake of 1755, these new inhabitants built simple residences, and also imposing Palaces.

Throughout the years, Graça suffered several changes. At the time of the extinction of the religious orders, the Convent was transformed into Military barracks, the Church of Largo de Santa Marinha was demolished and most of the convent lands were expropriated and sold to individuals.

In the beginning of the XX century and with the industrialization of districts such as Beato and Xabregas, Graça welcomes new inhabitants, workers who decided to live here, creating a new type of communities known as “Vilas”. This sort of working-class villages were built with aesthetic sense and urbanistic criteria that survived until the current days.

It’s here in this historical district that one feels the genuine atmosphere of Lisbon and its people, those who were born and raised in this neighborhood live in perfect harmony with the recent residents, including many foreigners.

Today, Graça is a very rich and diverse neighborhood, with wide streets, viewpoints and a combination of simple resident buildings and the most imposing palace.
Graça is a district that appeals not only to locals but especially to tourists that visit it for its soul, historical value, and location.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Pena Palace by night

Within the framework of the International Day for Monuments and Sites, the Pena Palace will be opened on the night of April 18th, for a free visit. 

After the success of the previous night visits, the Pena Palace, in Sintra, opens doors for a free nocturnal visit on April 18th, between 20.00 and 00.00.

The event, organized by Parques de Sintra, has a limited capacity of 3 thousand people. The admission is free but a pre-registration, made through the event's website, is mandatory.

The international theme for this year’s events is "Cultural heritage and sustainable tourism".

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Top 5 – Sé Catedral

Built in the second half of the twelfth century, the Sé Catedral (Lisbon Cathedral), is one of the most important landmarks of Lisbon.  

Constructed after Dom Afonso Henriques had taken Lisbon from the Moors, it stands on the site once occupied by the city’s main mosque. The Romanesque building that we see today is a mix of various architectural styles due to the various renovations that occurred after the earthquakes.

The cathedral is also an important archeological site, the excavation made to reinforce the buildings foundation allowed new finds beneath the cloister.

These are the 5 top spots not to miss when you’re visiting the Sé Catedral:

1 – Cloister
The Gothic cloister, with some of its decoration anticipating the Manueline style, can be reached through one of the ambulatory’s chapels.

2 – Bell towers
These stocky towers – defining features of the construction – echo those of Coimbra’s cathedral, built a few years earlier by Frei Roberto.

3 – St. Anthony’s Font
Tradition states that St. Anthony was baptized in this font, which now bears a tile panel of the Saint preaching to the fishes.

4 – Archeological Finds
Remains left by Moors, Visigoths, Romans and Phoenicians have been found during the cloister’s excavation.

5 – Rose Window
Reconstructed with fragments from its original, the rose window softens the façade, but unfortunately lets in only a limited quantity of light.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Easter Concert at the CCB

In a Concert for Peace the “Músicos do Tejo” usually conducted by Marcos Magalhães, will be, for the first time, conducted by a special guest.

The “Músicos do Tejo” have been working hard in the field of ancient music, with particular focus on the Portuguese repertoire or music that has been historically related to Portugal.

At this concert they will be performing under the direction of a guest conductor, the Finnish harpsichordist, Aapo Häkkinen.

For Marco Magalhães this partnership was seen as “exciting” and gave the opportunity for the group “to launch this new challenge within the orchestra, making contact with a different creative personality.”

As for the conductor, Aapo Häkkinen was an obvious and the best choice since this is “a musician with whom the group has a lot of artistic affinities”, assuring that this Luso-Finnish musical exchange, “which has already started for some time”, is now built in a program design in full collaboration “that will lead us to new musical adventures.”

The concert will take place on April 13th at 9 pm in the Main Auditorium of the Centro Cultural de Belém.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Guide4U - a new guide to visit Lisbon

A new application is now available to help you to know Lisbon. It is called Guide4U and it will help you to discover 18 of the most visited Lisbon sites.

The narrative is available in five different languages: English, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese and the concept is very simple.

The App offers 18 georeferenced spots to know or rediscover, places such as the S. Pedro de Alcântara viewpoint, the Castle of S. Jorge or the Praça do Município. Each site has two sound files, which describe what the user can observe, with a brief explanation, as well as the history related to it and which can be traced back to the time of the Discoveries or the Implantation of the Republic.

This is “the” guide for those who visit or live in the city, and it guarantees an increase of knowledge about Lisbon, taking you to places you have never “seen”, and although it only covers Lisbon, the platform will soon expand to other Portuguese cities.

The app costs 1.99€, and is available for IOS and Android, the Apple Store or Play Store, and offers special discounts on selected partners.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

What to Visit in Lisbon - Praça do Comércio

"Praça do Comércio”, also known as “Terreiro do Paço”, situated in the city center, by the “Tejo” river, is one of the most important squares in Lisbon and where major events take place.

The square itself is in the area where for nearly two centuries were the palace of the kings of Portugal and is one of the largest squares in Europe, with about 36,000 m².

In 1511, “Rei Manuel I” moved his residence from the “Castelo de São Jorge” to this location by the river.

The “Paço da Ribeira”, as well as its library of 70,000 volumes, was destroyed by the earthquake of 1755. In the reconstruction, the square became the key element of the plan of the “Marquês de Pombal”.

After the Revolution of 1910 the buildings were painted in the color pink. However, recently returned to its original color, yellow. This was always the noble entry of Lisbon and in the marble steps of the “Cais das Colunas” from the river, landed heads of state and other prominent figures. Nowadays, it is still possible to experience this amazing entry into Lisbon on ferries that connect the city with Cacilhas.

For a long time the square was nearly forgotten as a Cultural and Historical landmark. The buildings, with arcades surrounding the square, were home, in a few cases still are, to some departments of various ministries of the Portuguese Government and the center of the square was used a parking lot. Only the famous cafe “Martinho da Arcada”, the oldest in Lisbon, and a favorite of Fernando Pessoa, resisted.
But now after a complete renovation that took place in 2010, just in time to host a mass celebrated by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, for 80.000 pilgrims, a new “hot spot” emerged in Lisbon.

The Pateo da Galé, with the signature of the architect Tiago Silva Dias, is a project which sought to combine modernity with tradition, while maintaining the flavor of this ancient place of great historical significance, intended to be a space where you can experience the very best in Portugal: gastronomy, art and culture.

This brand new space contains several surprises that make the “Pateo da Galé” a trendy place and at the same time, historical. In the restaurant area there are two spaces where visitors can savor the delights of the Portuguese cuisine: the “Terreiro do Paço” and Aura, who works as a restaurant and lounge.
A shop can also be found, where it’s possible to buy typical Portuguese items such as jams, soaps, wines, olive oil or crafts.

To host large events there is an ample room called “Risco”, a space reserved for exhibitions. Finally, the Tourist Office and the headquarters of the Turismo de Lisboa.

Since 2013 the Praça do Comércio features a new reason to visit it, the  Augusta Street Arch Viewpoint . After seven months of renovations, this viewpoint offers one of the most unique panoramic views of Lisbon. The entrance is made through Augusta Street and the ticket, which costs 2, 5€, grants you access to the elevator that takes you to the upper level. There and after 30 steps you can visit the clock room a

Need any more reasons to visit one of Lisbon’s most important landmarks? I don’t think so.