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Arts and Culture for Expats in Portugal

Submitted: July 2014

Music

Your introduction to culture in Portugal may well be a musical one; starting with the music on the radio in the taxi or bus from the airport. If you are lucky it will be playing some fado.  

Fado is Portugal’s folk music; fado means fate, and many of the songs concern life and what it throws at you. Generally it features a female vocalist accompanied by a guitar or guitars. The central emotion conveyed by fado is saudadewhich does not translate into English very well, but is to do with the feeling of missing something or someone, and the longing that goes with it. Good fado tugs at your heartstrings even if you cannot understand a word. It can be an excellent backdrop to a night out with friends, or a romantic dinner. There are restaurants and clubs that play fado, often with live performances, in all the major cities. However it can be a little commercial in these establishments. If you are lucky, you may get taken by a Portuguese aficionado to a performance in a small back street bar or café, and hear the real thing. Here is Amália Rodrigues, the Queen of Fado, who became a worldwide star and brought fado to millions. Here is a live concert by Mariza, a highly successful fado singer who sang the Portuguese national anthem at the 2002 football World Cup. Here is another five hours of fado to get you in the mood. There is a different style of fado called Coimbra Fado which often has male vocalists, and is considered by many to be a more structured style, which instead of wallowing in the impossibility of escaping one’s fate, offers hope. Here is a live performance of Coimbra Fado for the students of Coimbra University.

 

Museums and Art Galleries

There are museums and art galleries in Portugal to suit all tastes, many reflect Portugal’s long and rich history. There are over 30 in Lisbon alone.

If you have a day to spare in Lisbon and feel like visiting some of the more unusual museums, one suggestion would be to head for the area around the Jardim de Belém by the Tagus. Within walking distance from there are several interesting museums, including:

 

 




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