There is a part of Lisbon which was what we could now call “Lisbon bohema” – Mouraria. Full of narrow streets, old taverns, hidden spots… home to many artists. Also a place where nearly mythical Maria Severa once lived.
There are many stories and legends about her. Some more and some less real, but what we certainly know is that she was the first to bring fado to life and as a poet Bulhão Pato said: “…a fado singer that Mouraria will never have again”.
A real icon, famous for her unique beauty, music but also different lovers such as Francisco de Paula Porugal e Castro who at some point of her life also helped her to become popular. Severa filled many Lisbon nights with her unusual voice, playing Portuguese guitar, dancing…
However, it is said that in 1846, she died, alone at the age of 26 and her last words supposedly were: “I’m dying without ever living”.
There is really not even one picture of Severa and enough details to say what we wish to know. Her short, however, rich life has been a mystery until today…
In Mouraria you can still find her house. But there is also a small place at the staircase of São Cristóvão where you see a mural with a modern representation of Severa, most likely with one of her lovers and who is said to be Francisco de Paula Porugal e Castro, next to a big word “fado” which in Portuguese means… destiny.
On top of the stairs there is a very old São Cristóvão church next to which grows jacaranda tree whose brunches silently throw flowers over the bench in the middle of the crooked stairs where you can also find Boutique Taberna – most charming and hidden spot that can still remind us of what Mouraria once was.
For some of us who go there this is truly the place in which you cross paths with magic.
For some of us this hidden little place is nothing but a pure encounter with poetry. A place that deserves to be contemplated and it needs to be felt to be understood.
Once you go there and stay there for awhile, your heart trembles and something within you sets a spark in your soul.
It’s a kind of place where strangers meet and where just a smile can change your life.
It’s a place of isolation and disappearance where you can hear the echo of the past. Where you feel deeply the hidden presence of people who lived it, laughed there and cried. People who fell for each other’s eyes before they said hello. People who imprinted their footsteps in the limestone stairs and left pieces of their souls, now shattered around the buildings…
For some of us it’s a kind of place where even silence becomes meaningful and in which time seems to be still as if the stars revolved in their own pace.
Yet, where brevity of a moment hits you and makes you ask yourself questions you never wanted to ask.
It’s a place where saudade – sentimental longing for something that’s lost resonates among the walls.
For many it’s a place of inspiration. Charged with emotions and feelings, where the air gently carries the sounds of fado whose nostalgia seduces you and softly crushes your heart.
A place from which São Cristóvão looks over travellers – people who meet there, who wander, who look for their place… their dreams… their love… for their own melody of life – their destiny – their own fado.
A place not only magical but mysterious like Severa’s life itself…