As you travel around the globe you will come across different music genres but nothing more original than the Portuguese fado, distinct melancholic love songs that are usually only accompanied by a guitarist.  The exact origin of the fado is not really known but it become popular in the early 1800’s and by 1820 it had made it to the capital Lisbon.  The word fado is not Portuguese but comes from Latin word fatum which means “what has been spoken”.

Many don’t know there are two types of fado:  Coimbra fado, sung by men who wooed young female university students and the more serious Lisbon fado which reflected an act of rebellion against the censorship of the time and was usually performed in underground bars, frequented by sailors and prostitutes.  Albeit that both performances are improvised songs of self-expression, in Coimbra applause was in the form of a guttural cough whereas in Lisbon a load traditional clap of hands was preferred.

By the late 1840’s, many a singer flocked to Lisbon and settled in Mouraria, a poorer more affordable part of Lisbon that many would argue is the birthplace of some of fados greatest artists.  The neighbourhood has a history of love stories between prostitute’s and aristocrats adding to the melancholy of unrequited, forbidden love, which further fueled the songs.

One thing is for certain a trip to Lisbon is not complete without an evening of fado!