To visit Lisbon and not listen to fado, is much like going to Rome without seeing the Pope. Fado is a Portuguese musical style usually sung by one person and accompanied by classic and Portuguese guitars. At Clube de Fado one can enjoy a fado’s evening, while enjoying a traditional Portuguese dinner. Installed in the typical Alfama area, in a building full of history, the ambience is at half-light and decorated with the furniture typical of Lisbon’s old taverns, where the fado singers sang astray. Inside, there is still a Moor well. Its antiquity was associated with superstition, now being said that it is a lucky well.
At Clube de Fado the cuisine is traditional Portuguese with dishes such as sirloin steak, lamb chops, cod in the cataplana and seafood's bread soup. Prices are here higher than in other similar restaurants, but this is justified by the fado's show that happens every night. The guitarist Mário Pacheco is the resident artist (and also the space's owner), always accompanied by professional or amateur fado singers. There are fados shows every day of the week, starting at 9.30 p.m. and extending until the house's closing by 2 a.m. To hear them you must pay a 7.50 euros fee. If you would rather watch the show without having dinner, show up only after 10.30 p.m. (you still have to pay the same fee). And please note: silence that fado is going to be sung!
- The living room contains some of the most precious, like a 19th century guitar, a piano, pictures, recordings, several medals and prizes.
- The dining room is ready for a nice dinner with the table beautifully set.
- The bedroom, on the top floor, is the most intimate and personal space, where there are objects exposed such as: perfumes, dresses, shawl, shoes and jewellery.
The tables are filled up with tourists from all backgrounds and ages, mixed with local fado lovers. When the house fills up (which is very common), people pile up at the door, waiting for an opportunity to come in (the entrance is not paid, only the realized consumption is). Therefore, it is advisable to arrive early to get a seating position but you should still be prepared to share your table with other spectators. To accompany the fado, you can have a beer or taste the sangria. For snacking, there are caldo verde (cabbage soup), cheeses, sausages and roast chorizo. In 2009, Tasca do Chico opened a second house in Alfama (Rua dos Remédios, No. 83), which shapes up to the spirit of this first one. Here, listen to fado astray every week between Thursday and Sunday.
The Discoteca Amália is a charming fado records' store located in downtown Lisbon, which pays tribute to Amália Rodrigues. This shop, founded in 1991, presents in its window a picture displaying the famous diva of fado, accompanied by roses. Inside, in a kind of fado's shrine, is a space that sells everything from the earliest to the latest fado's music hits. Sometimes and when the noise of the external traffic allows it, the inside music spreads down the street. This is a shop visited by many tourists who want to know more about fado and buy some of its most iconic albums. Its staff is always available to help the customers.
The Discoteca Amália is complemented with a fado’s van, a vintage Fleur de Lys brand car in the style of the 20’s (with the registration plate OE-50-80), parked at Rua do Carmo. This car, in addition to giving fado to listen to people passing by, is also another selling point dedicated to that Portuguese music style’s discography. It is a place where tourists usually stop, often attracted by the music and taking advantage of it to ask for touristic informations to the sales staff inside (although this is not an official point of tourism information). Discoteca Amália is closed on Sundays.
Fado is Lisbon’s musical expression, with little-known origins but always associated to the history of the city. While port of departure for the overseas expansion of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, Lisbon received visitors and slaves coming from Africa, South America and Asia, who left behind their musical influences spread throughout the town. But only in 1840 did fado gain recognition in Lisbon, being originally sung by sailors. Quickly did its interpreters become highlighted for the audacious letters and provocative dressings. Throughout the 20th century, fado won fans within the upper classes and expanded itself into radio, cinema and theatres, reaching a national dimension. The Casas de Fado (the traditional clubs where fado is sung) were born in the middle of the 20th century and enabled the professionalization of fado’s singers, then obligated to a professional license and to the previous censorship of their lyrics.
With Amália Rodrigues (1920-99), the greatest fado singer ever, this song was modernized and it acquired a world statute, confirmed by UNESCO, which declared it a World Heritage in November 2011. The fado singers sing the longing for a lost love, the woe and the tragedy, the love and the jealousy, in appropriate environments, at an half-light and demanding absolute silence. After a period marked by a lack of interest, fado has regained its place in Lisbon and is now a musical style cherished by the elites and sung by the people of the city, while many tourists search the town for the most genuine marks of local culture. This fado itinerary, which can be done in two days, is divided into visits to institutions that promote and expose this Portuguese art, such as the Fado Museum and the Amália Rodrigues Museum-House, but also the restaurants and tascas (taverns) where it is sung. The first, most touristic in nature, are places where you need to have dinner or pay a fee to listen to the fado sung by professionals. The true fadista spirit, practiced by amateur singers that sing it in a kind of improvised competition, can be found in the few tascas that still resist to the more modern styles. Here, anyone can listen or sing fado vadio, subject only to the consumption of a beer or a jug of wine. It is the most popular program and a recommended one for those visiting Lisbon or wanting to know this city in depth.