Fado in Lisbon


It all started when…

Fado appeared during the early 19th century in Lisbon, and is believed to have its origins in the port districts such as Alfama, Mouraria and Bairro Alto. There are numerous theories about the origin of fado. Some trace its origins or influences to the Medieval "cantigas de amigo" (friends songs) and some ancient Moorish influence, but none is conclusive. It possibly evolved and formed, from a mixture of several older musical genres.

Fado performers in the middle of the 19th century were mainly from urban working-class namely sailors, bohemians, courtesans, who not only sang, but also danced and beat the fado. During the second half of the 19th century, the dance rhythms would eventually fade away, and the performers became merely singers (fadistas). 

Maria Severa, fado singer (1820-1846)

The 19th century's most renowned fadista was Maria Severa.

More recently Amália Rodrigues, known as the "Rainha do Fado" ("Queen of Fado") was most influential in popularizing fado worldwide. Fado performances today may be accompanied by a string quartet or a full orchestra.


This is the most reputable, authentic, and sophisticated of all the Fado restaurants in Lisbon, owned by one of the country's top Fado performers, Maria da Fé. Several singers perform during the course of the evening, and the food is better than at the typical tourist-trap Fado restaurants.