On Wednesday, our history and culture teacher Beatriz took us up the hill to Castelo de São Jorge to tell us about its rich history. Although fortification on the hill date back to even more ancient times it was under Moorish rule that the fortification turned into what a castle.
In the 1147, Christian forces lead by Afonso Henriques, later the first king of Portugal, conquered the castle. After the legend, it was the night Martim Moniz who with a heroic move allowed the conquest of the castle. He noticed that the entrance to he castle was open and threw his body in there to prevent the Moors from closing it - paying with his life. Reality is a lot less heroic. The Moors inside the castle were starved to death by the Christian besiegers.
Beatriz continued to tell us about the intrigues that surrounded the castle and the royal in later centuries. Nonetheless, we also learned about what happened to those Moors that continued living in the area of today's Lisbon. As they could not stay in the castle, they had to move outside its walls. A neighbourhood came into existence which we today know as Mouraria.
Mouraria was also the second part of our tour. We walked through the winding streets that characterise Lisbon's oldest district. Here we learned about the origins of Fado. There is no single explanation how Fado evolved, so many tales surround Lisbon's most famous style of music. Our teacher Beatriz told us about one of the most probable versions: The Moors that had lost the castle and were forced to live outside its walls were of eternal sadness. Their centuries-long cries were therefore the reason to sing Fado - a style characterized by its sad lyrics and longing ("saudade" in Portuguese).
Next week on Thursday, we will leave Lisbon on our weekly tour and go to Sintra! Make sure not to miss out on this opportunity!