Mouraria is one of the most traditional neighborhoods in the city of Lisbon.
It is spread over a part of Castelo de São Jorge‘s hill and extends onto Praça do Martim Moniz and Intendente area.
The name Mouraria comes from the conquering of Lisbon, in 1147 by D. Afonso Henriques, the first Portuguese king.
After a long Castle’s siége and the successful conquest, the King confined the defeated muslims – called Mouros (Moors) at the time – throughout this area outside the castle.
In this neighborhood the Mouros remained until the XV century and created the first Portuguese Mudejar art expressions, which would evolve to the Manueline style. From that time there are few traces left in Mouraria, but this style can be fully appreciated on different monuments in Lisbon such as The Jerónimos Monastery or the Belém Tower in Belém riverside neighborhood.
Another cultural heritage from these first residents is the sadness and melancholy of their songs which is believed to be origin of Fado.
On Rua do Capelão, lived Maria Severa, a prostitute that became the first Portuguese Fado singer known and the maximum expression of Fado at the time.
Through her romance with the 13th Count of Vimioso, “the people’s music”, as it was called Fado, was sang for the first time in aristocratic social events and that’s how Fado became Portugal’s famous musical expression.
She died of tuberculosis in 1846, with 26 years of age only and attained a near-mythical status, as there are no records or images of her.
Rua do Capelão is now part of the Fado iconography and it was also there, in the the 20th century that Fernando Maurício, considered Mouraria‘s king of Fado was born. Further up at Travessa dos Lagares, grew up Mariza, the most international contemporary Portuguese Fado singer.
All these stories are the reasons why Mouraria is known as the Fado craddle.
Although a typical Lisbon neighborhood, that keeps its old popular traditions alive in several Fado houses, taverns and cultural and collectives, Mouraria is the most multicultural neighborhood in the city with different communities from Bangladesh, China, Pakistan and Mozambique, sharing these mazy streets.
Mouraria is a neighborhood that, after years of neglect, began to thrive since 2009 and therefore became one of the most interesting places in Lisbon to visit.