May 17, 2015

1590 PORTUGAL (Lisbon) - Bairro da Sé in Lisbon

The municipality of Lisbon, the capital and the largest city of Portugal, included 53 freguesias (civil parishes) until November 2012, when a new law reduced the number of them to 24. Locally, the inhabitants may more commonly refer to the spaces of Lisbon in terms of historic bairros (neighbourhoods). These communities have no clearly defined boundaries and represent distinctive quarters of the city that have in common a historical culture, similar living standards, and identifiable architectural landmarks. The oldest bairro of Lisbon is Alfama, which spreads down the southern slope from the Castle of São Jorge to the River Tagus. Its name, derived from the Arabic Al-hamma, means fountains or baths.

During the Islamic invasion of Iberia, the Alfama constituted the largest part of the city, extending west to the Baixa neighbourhood. Increasingly, the Alfama became inhabited by fishermen and the poor: its fame as a poor neighbourhood continues to this day. While the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake caused considerable damage throughout the capital, the Alfama survived with little damage, thanks to its compact labyrinth of narrow streets and small squares. It is an historical quarter of mixed-use buildings occupied by Fado bars, restaurants, and homes with small shops downstairs. Modernising trends have invigorated the district: old houses have been re-purposed or remodelled, while new buildings have been constructed. 

Bairro da Sé is part of Alfama, located, as the name suggests, in the surrounding of the Lisbon Cathedral (The Patriarchal Cathedral of St. Mary Major), named also Sé Cathedral, the oldest church in the city, of which building began in 1147. This area is characterized by labyrinthine streets and charming alleys, stairways, popular houses, windows and balconies with clothes drying on the clothesline. It has an inner city air, where time does not exist and all the traditions are still alive and are part of people's lives. It is common to have fairs and festivals in the streets of this neighborhood.

About the stamp, issued with the occasion of the anniversary of 50 years from the fondation of ICS / GIS, I wrote here.

Lisbon - Wikipedia
Bairros de Lisboa (por) -

Sender: Marius Vasilescu
Sent from Lisbon (Lisbon / Portugal), on 23.11.2012
Photo: Afonso Alves / 2001

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