Let Me Take You By The Hand…

… and show you one of my many favourite quarters of Lisbon, Alfama, the high, eastern quarter of the city that, right on top, houses the Castelo São Jorge.


The Castelo São Jorge, or rather what is left of it, was constructed at a strategically perfect spot and used by the Romans and the Mores. When in 1147 the Mores were kicked out it was used as the royal residence for many years and now … now, there are ten towers, many lovely little parks and gardens, old trees, stone benches and tables, canons, age-old trees, white peacocks (at least, I hope they are still there) and a well with a small fountain.

After wandering around in Alfama all day, or even half the day, it is lovely to just sit on the ramparts and enjoy the view and the unexpected quiet.

Wait, wait, I’ll buy some photos of São Jorge at Dreamstime or Fotalia (sure, not all these are mine!). Be back in a second…

The greatest fun of Alfama is that you cannot get lost there, because all you do when in doubt, is walk to the castle, look down and you’ll see or the river, or one of the main squares.

There, there, that gives you a bit of an idea, doesn’t it? And don’t forget that you’re way above the city centre!

For once I will not hit you with too many azulejos, but this one is too attractive (I find) to not show.

Let me take you by the hand and ask you to just walk with me through a labyrinth of incredibly narrow streets (the very narrowest is the Street of the Jews, by the way), look at the wee little balconies

with flowerpots, at laundry drying in the wind, see the different colours of the facades and the cages with birds that want to outsing each other.


 Come, late me take you by the hand and make you follow me up those stairs

let’s relax on that little bench, accept the kind offer of a plate with grilled sardines (remember what I told you about Portuguese hospitality?), let’s have a drink at a tasca, a small cafe, have a bagaço, a cup of black coffee with a small glass of special brandy … or just walk and look and smile back at all those smiling people.

Hold my hand and enjoy the beauty of this unique part of a unique city. See it all and, especially, hear it … hear the music of the heart, the fado. No music expresses loss, the yearning for lost love better than the fado.

I’m leaving you here to enjoy all that is around you. Don’t worry, you won’t get lost trying to get out.Just walk down and you’ll see the Tagus River and from there it is easy as apple pie to find your way home.

And if you happen to go back to your hotel ‘down below’ late at night, after having dined in one of the many wee holes in the wall withdelicious food you’ll find in Alfama, then this is what you’ll see…

And all this belongs to the Portugal that inspired me to write ‘The Sleeping Madonna’. That’s what this blog actually is all about, isn’t it? Hm … I tend to leave the highways and take the byways in that country.


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