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Fado of Coimbra

“Coimbra é uma lição, De sonho e tradição, O lente é uma canção, E a Lua a faculdade, O livro é uma mulher, Só passa quem souber, E aprende-se a dizer saudade…”

Who does not know this “Canção” of Coimbra?! This and many other Fados which sing love for the city, love for the girls, the life of the Students and that later served the opposition to the “Estado Novo” dictatorship, are part of the heritage of the Canção /Fado of Coimbra. However, many are the doubts and often the wrong comparisons between the Canção of Coimbra and the Fado of Lisbon. It is said that the Canção (Song) of Coimbra originated in the Fado of Lisbon but this can not have happened since the Fado of Coimbra appears, through the streets of the city, centuries before the appearance of the Fado in Lisbon that only later spreads throughout the country. Going back to the twelfth and fourteenth centuries, we realize that Coimbra (and still today) was influenced by two cultures: erudite and popular.

The city was inhabitted by ethnic and social minorities, as well as socio-professional groups for whom music was a part of leisure time. On the other hand, Coimbra was a place of passage for travelers, pilgrims and students. When we talk about the Fado of Coimbra, we must not forget that the influence that the University had at its origin is indisputable. Since 1290, students from various parts of the country had been singing nightly on the streets of the city. Fado Coimbrão has always been, and continues to be, closely associated to the academic traditions of the University. The Serenades, for example, is another ritual of the Academy that marks the Fado of Coimbra. These take place at night, under a window, played and sung to a loved someone, by University students or Ex-University students. At times, they served to request food to the girls and offer something artistic to the city and its people. Today, they are a way of honoring girls. When we talk about serenades, clapping is not welcome. The only desired compensation is seing the light on and off three times. This is the desired signal. This tradition is also followed in solemn moments, as the monumental serenade.

Unlike the Fado of Lisbon, the Canção or Fado of Coimbra is exclusively sung by men who always dress the part. Both singers and musicians wear trousers, cassock and black cloak – the academic costume of the University that gives more solemnity to the moment. The Fado of Coimbra is accompanied by a Coimbra Guitar and a Classical Guitar. And it is impossible to speak of the Guitar of Coimbra without mentioning Artur Paredes. Composer and interpreter of Portuguese Guitar. He is considered by many the creator of a unique sonority for the Guitar of Coimbra, distinguishing it thus of the Guitar of Lisbon. Later, his son, Carlos Paredes extended the versatility of Portuguese Guitar bringing its sonority to the world.

During the 1950’s and until April 25, 1974, the Canção of Coimbra was an excellent “weapon” of the “fight” for the ideals of Freedom. Names like Adriano Correia de Oliveira or José Afonso adopted ballads as a form of political expression. The Fado Coimbrão was preponderant in the Fight of the Students against the Dictatorship of Salazar. The song “Grândola, Vila Morena”, composed and sung by Zeca Afonso, was chosen by the Armed Forces Movement (MFA) to be the second password of the “Revolução dos Cravos” revolution.

It is for all this indisputable the connection of the University of Coimbra to the emergence of the Canção / Fado of Coimbra. “If Fado is considered the song of the Portuguese soul, Fado of Coimbra is surely the music that marks the rhythm of the heart of the students’ city.”

Currently we can say that the Fado of Coimbra lives prosperous days due also to the emergence of new musical projects that intend to spread its audience and thus bring the Fado of Coimbra to all corners of the world. For example, “Fado ao Centro”, in Coimbra, created a school and a workshop for the construction of instruments. This school teaches lessons of instruments related to the Fado of Coimbra and currently has students of various age groups and nationalities. In the workshop, besides the construction of string instruments, they also teach courses on pioneering instruments in Fado of Coimbra, such as the “Viola Toeira”.

In Coimbra, you can fall in love by our Canção / Fado in “Café Santa Cruz”, “Fado ao Centro”, “Fado Hilário” and in “àCapella”. During a visit to the Center of Guitar and Fado of Coimbra, in Torre do Anto, you will find out more about the Song and Guitar of Coimbra and its evolution throughout the generations.

Discover more about Coimbra on our blog.

Venues for fado of Coimbra:

àCapella:
Rua Corpo de Deus-Largo da Vitória
Capela Nossa Srª da Victória
Daily sessions of Fado of Coimbra at 9:30 p.m. (call and book)
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday | 19 p.m. to 02 a.m.
Contact: 239 833 985

Café Santa Cruz:
Praça 8 de Maio, Coimbra
Daily sessions during the warmer months, no reservation needed.
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday | 7 a.m. to 00:00
Contact: 239 833 617

Fado ao Centro:
Rua Quebra Costas, número 7, Coimbra
Daily sessions of Fado of Coimbra at 6:00 p.m. (call and book)
Contact: 239 837 060

Fado Hilário:
Rua Joaquim António de Aguiar, nº 110, Coimbra
Daily sessions of Fado of Coimbra at 6:45 (call and book)
Contact: 911 505 770

Restaurant Trovador:
Largo Se Velha num 15-17, Coimbra
Fado sessions by request (dinner time)
Contacto: +351 239 825 475

Núcleo da Guitarra e do Fado de Coimbra:
Rua de Sobre Ribas, Torre do Anto
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday| 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. /2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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Hotel Oslo - Coimbra
Av. Fernão de Magalhães, 25
3000-175 Coimbra, Portugal
Tel. +351 239 829 071
Fax. +351 239 820 614
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