If Fado is considered the song of the Portuguese soul, Coimbra Fado is surely the music which marks the rhythm of the heart of the students’ city. Closely connected with academic traditions, Coimbra Fado was created spontaneously among student groups who, when settling in the city to attend university, took their Portuguese guitars with them.
The tradition has been kept until today; Coimbrão Fado is sung exclusively by men and demands a strict dress code. Music groups and singers wear the academic dress which is composed of trousers, cassock and a black cape. This makes it a very solemn event, sung at night, in the city squares and streets, the most important stage of the Coimbra song.
During the time of the Salazar Dictatorship, along with the University’s political movements, Fado was used as a form of intervention among the students. People like Adriano Correia de Oliveira or José Afonso used ballads as a way to express their political opinions at a time when a word was more powerful than one thousand guns.
If you are visiting the city, don’t miss one of the traditional serenades which are sung under the windows of someone’s beau, or attend one of the wonderful performances of groups who sing popular songs which talk of the city, student life or borrow the words of the greatest names in Portuguese poetry in front of the Old Cathedral.