Plazas and squares, Lisbon
Lisbon's living room, Rossio is a well balanced square, usually taken by visitors as the reference point of their strolls across town. Easy to reach by Metro it is not advisable as a starting point except in a walk down to the river, because of its low level.
You'd better take a transport to each one of its surrounding hills, and visit the interesting points in your way down to the square.
Most foreigners will have their meals in one of the many restaurants in "Rua das Portas de Santo Antão", right beside the national theatre. Nothing to oppose, because you may find there some good restaurants, but... do choose well, because its also a place for big disappointments.
Camões square is where Bairro Alto begins (or ends!). At night, especially Friday and Saturday, is also where teenagers start their night. In the middle of the square is the statue of Luis de Camões, one of our most famous writers, built in 1867. Around the statue there are also eight writers: Pedro Nunes, Fernão Lopes, Azurara, Castanheda, João de Barros, Sá Menezes, Jerónimo Corte-Real e Vasco Quevedo Castello-Branco.
In the square you can see the traditional trams (yellow and red), visit the beautiful Bairro Alto Hotel and see its amazing views from the rooftop and appreciate the architecture and old building of Lisbon.
Rossio is one of the main squares of Baixa and everyday thousands of people go there in their way to work or just for a walk. The square has a beautiful pavement and fountain. You’ll also find the National Theater D.Maria II and one of the most amazing train stations in the country: Rossio Station.
In the middle of the square, is a statue of D.Pedro IV and its four figures represent: Justice, Wisdom, Force and Balance, values he was known for.
This square is also full of academic tradition as the initiation of university life starts with a bath on the fountain.
Portugal played a very secondary role in WW1, but with dramatic consequences. Half-way in Liberdade Avenue, a small monument remembers those victims.
I think it is a wise monument, so poor, sober and honest as we were in the war.
Don’t blame me for dedicating to this a special attention: the best documentation of the Portuguese drama in WW1 was the painting of my grand uncle, (as it may be seen in Military Museum), and its memories are always present in the family.
No one will ever visit Lisbon without a walk from Rossio to Praça do Comercio, or vice-versa.
The rebuilt area of Lisbon, after the earthquake, is an example of modernity and open mind, contrasting to the narrow and windy streets in the hills, older than 1775, that still flank it.
In my student days (so long ago!) I lived in a street called Oliveira Martins, but, frequently, the taxi drivers insisted in taking me to Sousa Martins st.
Who the hell would be that Sousa Martins?
Well, I discovered him later, in a discreet square of Lisbon, called Campo Martires da Patria, where people passes without time to look, and only in a free day we get time to stop and look around.
Sousa Martins was a doctor, pioneer against tuberculosis, and his success turned him in a saint, in most popular minds. His statue, facing a medicine school, is surrounded by marble plaques, each one as a remind of a miracle.
Stop and have a look! "Tons" of miracles!
The main square in Lisbon is known as Rossio, although its official name is the Praça de Dom Pedro IV.
The square is dominated by a large statue of King Dom Pedro IV which is in fact believed to be a likeness of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico, not Dom Pedro at all! Since a bronze of Maximilian was passing through Lisbon en route to Mexico and news had come through that Maximilian had been assasinated, Lisbon authorities decided to hold on to the statue (which was no longer needed in Mexico) in the belief that the column was so high that 'only the pigeons would see' that it was not a likeness of Dom Pedro IV!
From Rossio Square, you can also see the ruins of the Carmo Convent which was destroyed in the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. The ruins have been preserved to remind inhabitants of Lisbon of the disastrous effect of the earthquake which destroyed much of the area.
I liked the tiled detail of the pavement in Rossio Square. I noticed that this detail is used in other places in the area, including outside the Town Hall in Cascais.
Lisbon, like any major city, can after awhile assume a certain tightening fullness to the visitor on account of her unceasing traffic both human and vehicular that when accompanied especially by the unnerving heat of summer one would certainly want to hurry to find a refuge, a respite to somewhere shady, cool, pleasant and comfortable. But, unlike many metropolises tho, Lisbon is more tame - ideally tamed - both in temperament and a perfect setting straddled by the great Tejo river which brings cool breezes and airyness to the city's many reverent hills as it winds circuitously around and to end up finally meeting the sea.
Other than the multitude of easily accessible little neighborhood parks and plazas which dot all round the city, one of the ideal and refreshing nooks or corners one can run or walk to in order to escape a certain suffocation of city's modern invasiveness, is Lisbon's newly developed wide and expansive riverfront space. It's a grand boulevard of cool massive granite blocks whereupon one can sit to hangout at which stretches for a good two kilometers from the open Praca do Comercio all the way down to the entrance of the Cais do Sodre train station.
This pleasantly refreshing riverfront boulevard runs along Avenida Ribeira das Naus and Avenida Infante Dom Henrique.
This beautiful Square is covered with wavelike pavings. At the top of the square there is a theatre. The square has two lovely fountains and a column 27 meters high with a statue of Dom Pedro IV on top. Rossio metro station is located on this square. There are also cafes and flower stalls.
Where to meet up first in Lisbon? Is generally a common question asked in this great city when meeting up with new acquaintances especially visitors new to this place looking for the the most central and practical venue to find each other; and same thing among friends with the desire to find each other quickly at a spot most conducive and ambiant. Lisboates (native citizens of Lisbon) seem to always generally agree to picking not a street corner or building facade but a praca (pronounced prasa, meaning a square or plaza) to conjugate, huddle together to form the group necessary and meet up prior to anything else. This is especially true I noticed in many years of being a constant visitor to this endearing city their fondness to congregate first preferrably at a park or praca when agreeing to a dinner and very likely at the start of the weekend night - Friday on - the onset of another whirlwind of pleasure taking.
One of the most popular pracas or squares in Lisbon perfect for a meet-up anytime is the oppulent Praca do Camoes (after Portugal's most beloved poet Luis Vaz do Camoes) at the bottom of Bairro Alto and where it meets up with the fashionable district of Chiado. It's a beautiful open space, all cobbled up with an imposing statue of the poet smacked in the center of the square surrounded by stunning pastel-colored Pombaline apartment buildings. All around are marble benches and there's a corner kiosk serving up quick little sandwiches, cakes and the most ubiquitous of all Portuguese passions one can never have enough of in the course of the day - the bica or strong coffee in the manner of kick-in-the-balls' expresso.
Camoes square is small square located between Chiado and Bairro Alto.In the center is a monumental statue of 16th century epic poet Luis de Camoes. Behind it is a historical kiosk serving traditional Portuguese refreshments.
On the north side of the Rossio Square is the Dona Maria II National theater. This is monumental neoclassical building built in the 1840s. At the entrance to the museum are six Ionic columns (originally from Church of St. Francis which was destroyed in the 1775 eartquake)
Near Rossio Square there is Rossio Station (a monumental train station)
Rossio square is located in the center of Lisbon in Baixa. If you are tired of walking all around there are several good cafes with outdoor sitting to rest. On either side of the square are two baroque fountains, and in the centre is a monument 27 meters high. It is consists of a pedestal with marble allegories of Justice, Wisdom, Strength and Moderation.
Located in the middle of an important and busy roundabout at the northern end of the Avenida da Liberdade (Liberty Avenue), this monument is dedicated to Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, Marquis of Pombal, the mighty prime-minister who ruled Portugal from 1750 to 1777. Built between 1917 and 1934 by Adães Bermudes, António Couto and Francisco Santos, it features a bronze statue of the Marquis on the top, with a lion - symbol of power - by his side. The Marquis is shown looking towards the Baixa Pombalina, the area of Lisbon that was rebuilt under his direction after the disastrous 1755 Lisbon Earthquake.
This square is located between Chiado and Bairro Alto. Designed in 1860, it's named after the monument and statue of the 16th century poet Luis de Camões standing on a pedestal with other smaller statues of classical Portuguese authors. It faces Largo do Chiado, where there are two Baroque churches: Loreto (also known as "of the Italians") and Encarnação.