Lisbon Downtown

Lisbon downtown , also called Baixa Pombalina, is the heart of this fascinating city. Here you can find, try and experience emblematic places that will stay in my memory for a long time.

Along the Tagus (Tejo) river , in the iconic Pier of the columns (Cais das Colunas), you can feel the Portuguese maritime vocation. It was here that landed heads of State and other personalities (as Elizabeth II of England) and, very close, can now envision the ferry boats crossing the River to the other side, in Cacilhas.

Terreiro do Paço in Lisbon
The Terreiro do Paço in Lisbon we spotted the Tagus River to its mouth.
Ribeira das Naus in Lisbon between Cais do Sodré and the Praça do Comércio
Ribeira das Naus in Lisbon between Cais do Sodré and the Praça do Comércio

Separating the Cais do Sodré and the Praça do Comércio-also called Terreiro do Paço-is the Ribeira das Naus, a pleasant public space recently redesigned and that invites contemplation of the river Tagus and to the enjoyment of the Riverside breeze. Its reclassification, in an area that was once the dock where the Portuguese ships were built, now calls for sunbathing in a landscaped sites located here and enjoy and relax under the fantastic light.

Ribeira das Naus

The name Ribeira das Naus arises from the name assigned, from the construction of the Ribeira Palace, the tercenas that Manuel I sent to build near the Royal Palace. After the earthquake of 1755, the Ribeira das Naus received the designation of Royal Navy Arsenal. With the establishment of the Republic, the Arsenal of the Navy covered, in addition to the naval construction and maintenance, other departments of the Navy. The Arsenal of the Navy would be disabled in 1938 with the construction of the Arsenal of Alfeite.

People in Ribeira das Naus to stroll and soak up the Sun during the Portuguese winter
People in Ribeira das Naus to stroll and soak up the Sun during the Portuguese winter
People in the Sun in a riverside terrace at Ribeira das Naus
People in the Sun in a riverside terrace at Ribeira das Naus

The Praça do Comércio in Lisbon is one of the largest squares in Europe.

The Praça do Comércio in Lisbon is one of the largest squares in Europe and also one of the most beautiful. It is a pleasant space where it is common to perform cultural activities multimedia spectacles and concerts, as well as sporting events.

Restaurants in the Praça do Comércio in Lisbon
Terraces of the restaurants in the arcades of Praça do Comércio in Lisbon

The restaurants in the arcades of Praça do Comércio invites you to a tasting of tasty Portuguese gastronomy. There are several restaurants of various kinds, more relaxed, more elaborate, but all are very nice, especially for enjoying good times. Enjoy city life while tasting a typical Portuguese snack, a drink or a coffee in the flavor of a pleasant conversation.

Martinho cafe bar photo taken in 1909
Martinho cafe bar photo taken in 1909

A very interesting restaurant is the Martinho da Arcada. Is the city's oldest coffee in activity and was the venue chosen by Portuguese personalities linked to art, like Fernando Pessoa, Bocage or Almada Negreiros. With more than 200 years, this café-restaurant had, throughout its history, different names and owners. But it was in 1845 that Martin Rodrigues acquired the space and assigned him the current designation. In 1984, Martinho da Arcada was classified as property in the public interest.

Commerce Square seen from the pier of the columns
Commerce Square seen from the pier of the columns (Cais das Colunas)

During approximately two centuries, the Praça do Comércio was the place chosen as the residence for the Kings of Portugal. D. Manuel I transferred his quarters to Praça do Comércio in 1511 (before he was living in the Castelo de São Jorge). Currently, most of the buildings are occupied by public services and departments.

Commerce Square has a long history

end of the Iberian Union as a result of the arrest of the Duchess of Mantua
End of the Iberian Union as a result of the arrest of the Duchess of Mantua

It was in this square that have experienced different historical moments. In December 1 1640, it happened here the end of the Iberian Union as a result of the arrest of the Duchess of Mantua and the death of Miguel de Vasconcelos, who was thrown from a window of his palace to the terrace. The Royal Palace, which was located in the space currently occupied by the buildings that surround the Terreiro do Paço, was destroyed during the earthquake of 1755 and housed a library with more than 70 1000 volumes and works of art by Titian and Rubens, that were destroyed.

Palacio real 1755
Royal Palace partially destroyed with the 1755 earthquake

It was also in the Praça do Comércio in Lisbon that, in 1908, King Carlos and his son were murdered. The April 25 1974, day of Freedom and the revolution of the Carnations, here was the siege of ministries by the Movimento das Forças Armadas, having been brought down the Government of Marcelo Caetano and the dictatorship of the Estado Novo.

murder of King Carlos I and Prince d. Lus Filipe in the year 1908
Regicide King Carlos I and Prince d. Lus Filipe in the year 1908

Representation of the assassination of King Carlos I and Prince Luís Filipe. Past event in the year 1908 in Arsenal Street, downtown Lisbon

The first sculpture in a public space dedicated to a living person

Statue of Don Jose
Statue of d. José, by the sculptor Joaquim Machado de Castro

In the center of the square is located at statue of d. José, by the sculptor Joaquim Machado de Castro that concluded in 1775, and was the first portuguese equestrian statue. Other particularities of this statue are the first in a public sculpture dedicated to a living person, as well as its casting have been performed with a single copper Jet (taking into consideration its size, was one of the first in the world to receive this technique). Despite being alive during its construction, d. José refused to pose for the author of the sculpture. The pedestal of the statue by Reinaldo Manuel dos Santos.

Pedestal of the statue of Don Jose
The pedestal of the statue of Dom José by Reinaldo Manuel dos Santos
Lisbon Story Center
Lisbon Story Center, located in front of the Praça do Comércio

If you are interested in knowing the history of the city through multimedia and interactive technologies can visit the Lisbon Story Center.

Arco da Rua Augusta

Arco da Rua Augusta, Terreiro do Paço in Lisbon
Arco da Rua Augusta, Terreiro do Paço in Lisbon

The Arco da Rua Augusta is one of the essential sites to visit. Located in the northern part of the Praça do Comércio, from here you can admire the best views of downtown Lisbon. In the neoclassical style, the Arco da Rua Augusta is one of the doors to the street that has the same name (Rua Augusta) and where you can enjoy the cosmopolitan character of the city, whether it's watching the existing commercial areas, either by street performers who give permanent color and movement to this street.

The construction of the Arco da Rua Augusta was held simultaneously at the urban recovery after the earthquake of 1755. Held in different stages having first been recovered up to an intermediate level and was opened in 1875, with the crowning of the arc. The completion of the work was assigned to Veríssimo da Costa.

Praça do Comércio and the construction of the arco da rua Augusta during the year 1862

the top of the arc, the glory, the Genius and the value and its authorship belongs to Célestin Anatole Calmels
the top of the arc of the rua Augusta represanta the glory, the Genius and the value

The top of the arc includes sculptures representing the glory, the Genius and the value and its authorship belongs to Célestin Anatole Calmels. The sculptures at the bottom are Vitor Bastos and refer to outstanding figures in the history of Portugal: Vasco da Gama, Marquês de Pombal, Nuno Álvares Pereira and Viriathus. You can also see a Latin inscription referring to the strength of the Portuguese Empire: "Às virtudes dos maiores, para que sirva a todos de ensinamento, assinalando para a eternidade dos tempos a grandiosidade da alma portuguesa e das suas conquistas ao longo dos séculos (The virtues of the greatest, so that serve all of teaching, noting to the eternity of time the grandeur of the Portuguese soul and their achievements through the centuries)".

The cultures at the bottom of the arch: Vasco da Gama, Marquês de Pombal, Nuno Álvares Pereira and Viriato
The cultures at the bottom of the arch: Vasco da Gama, Marquês de Pombal, Nuno Álvares Pereira and Viriato
Clock room inside the arco da rua Augusta
Clock room inside the arco da rua Augusta

Inside the Arco da Rua Augusta, it is possible to visit the exhibition in the living room, where they relive the stories of this monument as well as understand the importance to the city.

Parallel to Rua Augusta, streets associated with various crafts, such as the streets of Fanqueiros, Correeiros, Sapateiros, Ouro and Prata. All of them form a grid of straight streets and urban perpendiculars which was designed by the Marquis of Pombal, Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, when reconstruction of this part of the city after the earthquake of 1755. The buildings are characterised by areas in the lower floors reserved to trade, while the upper floors were inhabited by families.

Rua augusta, Lisbon
Straight and perpendicular streets outside Augusta, urban grid design by Marquês de Pombal in downtown Lisbon

One of the most interesting and innovative features of Pombaline architecture is that it is one of the earliest examples of anti-seismic construction. To this end, estacaria foundations were designed for the buildings and the upper floors comply with the format of the designated pombalinas cages.

inside augusta Street
The inside Augusta Street can see the clock at the top of the arch

Lisbon Cathedral or Church of Santa Maria Maggiore

Lisbon Cathedral or Church of Santa Maria Maggiore
Lisbon Cathedral or Church of Santa Maria Maggiore

Climbing towards Alfama, Lisbon Cathedral or Church of Santa Maria Maggiore. Begun in the 12th century, after the victory of d. Afonso Henriques expelling the moors of the city. Initially designed in 1147 in Romanesque style, the Cathedral of Lisbon is the result of several architectural styles. Throughout the ages, the Lisbon Cathedral received several altars, including the well-known Panels of São Vicente de Fora, that currently we can visit the National Museum of ancient art. On the left, after the entry, you can find paintings and tiles on the life of Saint Anthony of Lisbon. The Lisbon Cathedral has had three organs being the oldest by Joaquim Fontanes. Through the South Tower you can also visit the treasure of the Cathedral which includes an interesting collection of silverware, ecclesiastical costumes, manuscripts and relics connected to St. Vincent, as well as the Chapter Room. After several renovations and reconstructions to Lisbon Cathedral, nowadays can be seen as a captivating mixture of styles that give it a stroke revival with many original features.

Santa Justa elevator, access to the Largo do Carmo

Santa Justa elevator
Santa Justa lift seen from downtown

When we get on the Rua do Ouro, we find the Santa Justa elevator, also called Carmo lift due to the path of ascent and descent among the Rua do Ouro and the Largo do Carmo. Designed by the engineer Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard, the elevator built in iron and in neo-Gothic style was opened in 1902 and was considered at the time an innovative construction. With a height of 30 metres, the views on the top floor are captivating and invite contemplation on the downtown Lisbon. Although often referred to as a link from the author of the project with Gustave Eiffel, in reality this link is not substantiated with evidence. However, the engineer Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard applied materials and techniques previously used in France in the construction of the Santa Justa elevator in Lisbon.

Inside Santa Justa elevator you have a panoramic view over the downtown area of Lisbon
Santa Justa elevator inside has a panoramic view over the downtown area of Lisbon

Rossio, or Plaza de d. Pedro IV

Rossio, or Plaza de d. Pedro IV
Night in Rossio

This whole network of streets converges in one of the most beautiful squares in the city: the Rossio or Praça de d. Pedro IV. During the Roman era, in the space of the Plaza there was a Racecourse. It was in the middle ages that began to be built the first buildings. With the 1755 earthquake, which brought down a large number of buildings in the Rossio, Carlos Mardel drew a rebuilding plan. Here took place several events such as fairs, military parades, revolutions and even bullfights.

On Rossio Square facing the South can see the Sizzle on the hillside. The arches of the ruins of the convento do Carmo and the facades of buildings pombalinos

HISTORY
Nicola, Lisbon's historical coffee bar

After these historic developments, the Rossio is today the heart of downtown Lisbon, finding diverse trade, including famous cafes such as Nicola or Pastelaria Suíça . The Square and adjacent streets form not only a commercial area, as are also the headquarters of companies, startups and hospitality spaces that give life to downtown Lisbon.

Suíça Pastry is located on Rossio Square (Pedro IV) in Lisbon. The terrace of the bakery is a place very much appreciated by the inhabitants of Lisbon and by tourists and visitors to observe the busy Rossio Square while enjoying the delicious pastries and Portuguese cuisine

Statue of King Pedro IV in the Centre of the square
At the base of the statue, four female Sculptures alluding to Justice, Prudence, Fortitude and Moderation

The statue of Dom Pedro IV is located in the Centre of lively Rossio Square. On the pedestal by Germano José de Salles, four female Sculptures alluding to justice, Prudence, fortitude and Temperance. These qualities were attributed to d. Pedro IV, who had the cognomen of soldier-King. The bronze statue was the work of Elijah Robert.

Theatre D. Maria II

Theatre D. Maria II
The Maria II Theatre was opened in 1846, thought of and conceived by writer Almeida Garrett

In Rossio will find the theatre d. Maria II. It is in this beautiful cultural space you can watch plays throughout the year. Even when there are shows, it is worth visiting this beautiful room to enjoy the Majesty. The theatre was opened in 1846 on the occasion of the celebrations of the 27th anniversary of d. Maria II. Conceived and designed by well known writer Almeida Garrett in the context of a national cultural policy, the theatre was designed by the Italian architect Fortunato Lodi that gave it a distinctly neoclassical style. In 1964, a fire broke out leaving only the exterior walls intact, which only reopened in 1978. The theatre is classified as a national monument.

rossio train station
Rossio train station is since 1971 1 property of public interest

On connection between Rossio and another pretty square of Lisbon – the Restauradores square – is the Rossio train station. From here depart the trains to Sintra. Designed by José Luis Monteiro and in Manueline style, the station is since 1971 1 property in the public interest.

Meet other reference sites in the Centre of Lisbon