Fado diva Amália Rodriguez (1920-99) is credited more than any other singer in history with touching the nerve endings of the Portuguese soul. Born in Lisbon into a large and very poor family, her musical expressions of saudade (nostalgia provoked by a sense of loss) have been defined as the musical expression of the Portuguese soul. Hers is the music most likely to be heard in traditional bars, and hers is the voice most immediately recognizable to most Portuguese. After her death, which was considered a national tragedy, her body was buried with pomp and circumstance in the National Pantheon alongside the country's most prominent statesmen and writers. Today, on the street where she used to live (Rua São Bento), you'll see hundreds of stencils proclaiming it as Rua Amália.
Her ocher-color town house, not far from the Portuguese Parliament, is the headquarters of a charitable foundation established in her name. In July 2001, it was reconfigured as a testimonial to her life and accomplishments, and instantly became a pilgrimage site for her fans, evoking huge controversies about how she would (and should) be remembered within Portuguese history. You'll be issued a number when you first arrive and then be escorted on a multilingual (Portuguese, French, and English) guided tour of what used to be her home. Come here for a view of videotapes of some of her performances, especially those from the 1950s and 1960s. Tours last about 30 minutes each.