The Alfama is the oldest neighborhood of Lisbon, surrounding the medieval Castelo de São Jorge, or St. George’s castle. Originally it comprised the entirety of the city. Some areas directly adjacent to the castle were the most coveted by Portuguese nobility, a home there keeping its residents close to the seat of power, quite literally. Over time it turned down at the heels, and it became somewhat of a slum as wealthy residents fled the narrow lanes toward the newer Baixa neighborhood to the west.
Today its fortune are mixed. The castle and nearby businesses, especially the fado bars attract tourists and their money, but the area’s cramped, ancient lanes still mostly resist gentrification. It remains a working class neighborhood, something to which the ubiquitous laundry lines, as well as sections of derelict buildings would testify.
I spent one beautiful clear day last September crawling Alfama’s streets with my tripod and came away with some of my favorite shots of my trip to Portugal.