Why You Should Visit the Praça do Comércio in Lisbon
All the most important tips and historical facts about Praça do Comércio in Lisbon…
Having the best location on the banks of the River Tejo, Praça do Comércio is also known as Palace Square where the luxurious Ribeira Palace used to stand. Unfortunately, the fate of many of the magnificent buildings of Lisbon was destroyed when the country was shaken by a terrible earthquake in 1755.
King Jose I, who ruled at that time, entrusted the restoration of the city to Prime Minister Sebastian Pombal. Praça do Comércio, which means Trading Square, has placed government offices in charge of customs and the affairs of the port of Lisbon.
In the center of the square, there is an equestrian monument being built in 1775 dedicated to King Jose I. The work on the bronze sculpture was entrusted to the most famous architect of that era, Joachim Machado de Castro.
Another attraction is the 30-meter triumphal arch (Arco da Rua Augusta), the construction of which was completed in the XIX century. On its top is an allegorical composition: in the center is Glory, which crowns with laurel wreaths Valor and Genius. On the lower tier are statues of famous historical figures – this is the Marquis Pombal, Vasco da Gama, Nuno Alvarez Pereira, and Viriat – the leader of the Lusitanian tribe, whom the Portuguese consider being their ancestors.
The location and purpose of the Praça do Comèrcio
From a bird’s eye view, the area is striking with its symmetry of outlines, while all buildings are characterized by the unity of architectural solutions. At the present stage here is the main part of the state departments, whose activities are related to trade.
Before the catastrophic events of the mid-eighteenth century, this part of Lisbon was dominated by a beautiful palace complex built for the ruler of Portugal, Manuel I, who wished to have a residence away from the city walls and near the Tagus River. Over time, many administrative buildings were built around the castle, which should be associated with the establishment of the port and the expansion of trade and diplomatic relations with countries from different parts of the world.
After November of 1755, when a large-scale earthquake was followed by a devastating tsunami and a fire, King Jose I was confronted with the question of how to carry out the reconstruction. All the restoration duties were assigned to Sebastian Pombal, who was the Prime Minister at the time, and according to his wish, the square had acquired features characteristic of the Enlightenment. In particular, they preferred not to restore the palace, focusing on the clarity of geometry and the correctness of forms.
What does “Praça do Comércio” mean?
The name was also changed to the “Market Square”, which made it possible to determine the main field of activity of those departments that were located there.
Historically speaking however, it has a different meaning to the Portuguese. In February 1908 it was here that the tragedy occurred – the execution of the royal cortege, in which Carlos I was killed, and the heir to the throne and his brother were seriously injured.
And already two years later, representatives of the party, which included the murderers, began a revolution that led to the overthrow of the monarchical system and the transformation of Portugal into a republic.
Among the monuments of history and architecture, which you should definitely look at while walking through the Market Square, you should mention the bronze statue of Jose I, which has survived since 1775 events.
What do you need to know about modern Praça do Comercio?
- Praça do Comercio is one of the central squares of Lisbon. Today it is one of the largest areas in Europe (36,000 m2, 180×200 m). In the center of the square is a monument to King Jose I, the work of the Portuguese sculptor in 1775.
- In literal translation, the name of the Praça do Comércio square can be translated as Commerce Square or Commercial Square, but the Portuguese most often call it Terreiro do Paço – Palace Square. All these names refer to the same area – Praça do Comercio.
- Palace Square in Lisbon is a must-see for tourists. Perhaps this is the first thing to do when arriving in Lisbon: walk along the Baixa district, along Augusta Street, and exit through the Triumphal Arch to the square.
- From here you will have a view of the Tagus River and a stunning view of the Bridge on April 25th. Especially beautiful here at sunset. On weekends, various events are often held on Praça do Comercio, organized by different companies, or simply street artists. Tourist double-decker buses are passing by the square, where you can drive around all the main sights of Lisbon in a couple of hours.
- Since 2014, the entrance to the Arch of Augusta Street is open, from the height of which there is a stunning view of the Commerce Square and the Augusta Street itself. Entrance to the arch is 2.50 €. We recommend you to climb up there.
- After the earthquake of 1755, the palace and all the coastal buildings were destroyed, and the restoration was entrusted to the King Marquis de Pombal, a well-known Portuguese politician of those times. It was during his time that the square took on its current shape.
Praça do Comercio – an interesting fact
The oldest cafe in Lisbon is located in the main square! In one of the buildings on the square is the oldest of the existing cafes in Lisbon – Café-Restaurante Martinho da Arcada. Cafe was founded in 1782. The exact address of the institution is Praça do Comércio, 3. Open from 7:00 to 23:00.
How to get to Praça do Comércio
Address: Lisboa, Praça do Comércio
How to get there: by foot from any hotel if you are in the city center. Public transportation: Metro Terreiro do Paço (“Azul” blue line) has an exit directly to the square.