Fado is thought to have been born spontaneously out of Lisbon’s popular and working-class gatherings during the 19th century, in taverns, on the street, in the city's orchards or in bullfighting pageants.  Fado evokes an aura of urban daily life, and in a first phase is associated to social contexts of marginality and lowlife. The fado singer is embodied in the figure of the faia, a ruffian sporting a rough and husky voice, covered in tattoos, quick with the flick knife and speaking in jargon and slang.

From its origins in the fringes of society, fado evolved to become the Portuguese national song and to be classified as cultural heritage of humanity, in 2011, conquering the word with fadistas such as Carlos do Carmo and Amália Rodrigues and more recently, Mariza, Camané, Carminho and Ana Moura.

There are several styles of fado, but the primitive, or original ones are three: fado “à Capela”, fado “Corrido” and fado “Castiço”. Characteristically fado is sung by a single voice, either male or female, accompanied by string instruments, such as the classical guitar and the Portuguese guitar. The timbre of the Portuguese guitar is so unmistakable that any Portuguese will recognise it at the first chords, wherever it is played. This musical instrument is loaded with symbolism and, through its long-standing alliance with Fado, it has come to be associated with the Portuguese "way of being", with its sound naturally evoking words such as fate and saudade, or melancholic longing. The Portuguese guitar is a cordophone with a pear-shaped body. It is a plucked string instrument with twelve steel strings, strung in six courses of two strings which can be played in different tunings. The tuning that became dominant, however, was the so-called Fado tuning: B-A-E-B-A-D, starting from the higher strings. The Portuguese guitar technique is based‐ on a particular right-hand finger picking using the index and the thumb nails. This Lisbon version of this instruments (there a slightly different Coimbra version) usually features a scroll ornament adorning the tuning machine.

The word Fado comes from the Latin fatumFatum meant fate, i.e., something that was predestined to be and could not be changed. The word Fado enters the Portuguese lexicon as something explained by divine providence and prescience about human events, and the Portuguese people face their fortunes or misfortunes accordingly.

Within the three main fado styles, there are around 140 varieties, including: Tango, Franklin, Alberto, Maria Vitória, Marceneiro, Viana, Bailado, Carriche, Pierrot, Pinóia, Porto and Zé Grande. Despite the variety of Fado types, its structure has always kept the foundational principles, with minor changes.

One of the most striking features of Fado is its capacity to move people who do not speak Portuguese. The recent international success of Fado is anchored in heavily charged performances which overcome any linguistic barrier.  For the Portuguese, Fado means identity, and that has always been the case and it is still true. The notion that Fado might lose its appeal among the younger generations, connected to contents more in touch with modernity, proved to be wrong. Fado was able to regenerate itself, having become one of the most relevant genres within current World Music.

The best you can do is go and listen to fado, even if you don’t understand the language. Listening to fado is buying a one-way ticket that will plunge you right into Portuguese culture.

We recommend the following fado venues, according to proximity to your apartment unit:

If you are staying at:

  • Hello Lisbon Santa Apolónia Apartments
  • Hello Lisbon Castelo Apartments

We recommend:

  • Restaurante Marquês da Sé
  • Restaurante Parreirinha de Alfama

If you are staying at:

  • Hello Lisbon São Bento Valley Boutique Apartments
  • Hello Lisbon Bairro Alto Apartments
  • Hello Lisbon Cais do Sodré Apartments
  • Hello Lisbon Santos Apartments
  • Hello Lisbon Rossio Collection Apartments
  • Hello Lisbon Marquês de Pombal Apartments

We recommend:

  • Restaurante Adega Machado
  • Restaurante O Faia
  • Restaurante Sr. Vinho

To book a table, contact us to:

Email: info@hello-lisbon.com
Phone no. +351 937 771 777
Chat Concierge: http://customercare.hello-lisbon.com/concierge/
Video call at the kiosk of your apartment unit

We hope you enjoy!

Pedro Mata - Hello Lisbon Manager

Please note, your browser is out of date.
For a good browsing experience we recommend using the latest version of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera or Internet Explorer.