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The Alfama's timeless alleys and squares have a notoriously confusing layout, but the Alfama is relatively compact, and you'll keep circling back to the same buildings and streets. In the Moorish period this area thrived, and in the 15th century—as evidenced by the ancient synagogue on Beco das Barrelas—it was an important Jewish quarter.
The Alfama's streets and alleys are very steep, and its levels are connected by flights of stone steps, which means it's easier to tour the area from the top down (give yourself two hours, or three if you plan to visit the Museu-Escola de Artes Decorativas). Take a taxi up to the castle or approach it by Tram 28 from Rua Conceição in the Baixa or Bus 37 from Praça da Figueira. The large terrace next to the church of Santa Luzia, just below the castle, gives a fine overview of the Alfama and the river.
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