Bairro Alto is a quaint old quarter in central Lisbon, with narrow cobbled streets, old houses, small traditional shops, restaurants and nightlife spots. Built in orthogonal plan from the early 16th century, it was known as Vila Nova de Andrade. (…) During the 19th century and until the third quarter of the 20th century, the neighborhood was home to the main newspapers and printers in the country.
Even today it is possible to find echoes of this time in street names such as Rua Diário de Notícias or Rua do Século. This neighborhood of the capital, a short walk from Chiado, frequented and inhabited by journalists, writers, artists and students, was also the place of sailors’ taverns, charcoal shops and places of bad repute and prostitution. Vitorino Nemésio alludes to this environment in the novel Bad Weather on the Channel.
Since the 80’s it is the best known area of Lisbon nightlife, with numerous bars and restaurants, along with the fado houses. Since then, it has acquired a life of its own and characteristic, where different generations cross in search of nightlife. Bairro Alto is currently a quiet and traditional neighborhood of Lisbon during the day, becoming from early evening the main place for nightlife and meeting point of different cultures and generations. It is known as the usual place for young foreigners in Lisbon to study under the Erasmus program.
Part of the buildings have been or are being restored, keeping the original layout, which allowed the installation of new and alternative commercial spaces, ranging from reference stores (such as Leitão & Irmão, Jorge Welsh or Cork & Co) to multi-brand stores and ateliers (such as designer Fátima Lopes), including tattoo and piercing shops. On the other hand, the neighborhood probably has the largest concentration of restaurants and bars in Lisbon, attracting a very diverse public, both national and foreign.