With its amazing undulating mosaic pavement (the first in Lisbon, a pattern known as "the wide sea") and handsome Baroque fountains, Praça Rossio is certainly one of Lisbon's most beautiful squares. Although virtually entirely rebuilt after the catastrophic earthquake of 1755, the square has been the heart of Lisbon for centuries. Revolutions, executions, celebrations - the square has seen them all over the centuries and still today it's where Lisboetas come to meet in its cafes, stroll its open spaces, see and be seen. Tourists love the square too, how could they not? There's so much here to see, do and admire.
Most of the buildings are the work of the architects who rebuilt the city in what is known as Pombaline style after the great earthquake. Named for the Marquis of Pombal who oversaw the rebuilding of the city, the style is both classically restrained and cleverly engineered to withstand the devastion of another earthquake. The National Theatre stands at one end of the square and Dom Pedro IV (for whom the square is more formally named) overlooks the whole scene from a tall column towards the other end.
This is the perfect place to sit at an outdoor cafe and watch the world - or the daily life of Lisbon - go by. If you like a touch of history with your coffee, Cafe Nicola, whilst by no means the oldest cafe in Lisbon, opened in 1929 and is very elegant. Cafe Suiça is another nice cafe and if you walk right through you'll find they have al fresco tables on Praça de Figueira.
Located only a few minutes walk from Rossio Square is another, called 'Praca dos Restauradores'. The memorial in this square was erected in 1886 in honour of the 'Restorers' who, in 1640, led a revolt against 60-years of Spanish rule. It was not until 1668 that Portugal finally became its own master once again. The names and dates of the battles during this war are inscribed on the sides of the obelisk.
The building in the background (right side) is the Palacio Foz, built in 1755-77 for royalty. It is now used as a tourist information centre as well as the local police station (and we had occasion to use both of them during our stay!!).
This square is much more heavily used by traffic than is Rossio, since its accompanying tree-lined Avenue da Liberdade was designed on the lines of the Champs Elysees in Paris and is one of the main arteries bringing traffic into this part of Lisbon.
This elegant street is one of the main Avenues in Lisboa. The wide tree-lined avenue runs between Restauradores and Parque Eduardo VII, where a statue of Marques do Pombal stands.
There are endless designer shops, hotels, cafes, and theaters lining the avenue to keep yourself entertained. Most of the high-end hotels are located here. It's a popular place to stay since it lays between the tourist and business districts of Lisbon and caters to both tastes.
Located at the south end of the "Avenida da Liberdade" and next to the Rossio train station, Praça dos Restauradores (Restorer's square) displays an obelisk and a sculpture commemmorating the restoration of Portugal's independence from Spain (1640).
This is where you take the "Elevador da Glória" funicular up to Bairro Alto and is also the site of many beautiful building, most noticeably the recently renovated Eden theater (now a hotel).
Wow, this place was amazing! Such a huge square with its amazing wave pattern on the hand-cut stone paving blocks. This pattern, the first of its kind to decorate the city's streets, was installed in the mid-1800s, giving the square the nickname of 'rolling motion square'.
It was not too busy when we were there on a Friday afternoon in mid-May, but Rossio Square is in the heart of the tourist district. The elegant buildings which surround it are now occupied on their lower floors by cafes, jewellers and souvenir shops.
The tall statue is a monument to Dom Pedro IV, who ruled Portugal from 1826-28 and was the first Emperor of Brazil. In fact, this square is still officially called 'Praca de Dom Pedro IV'.
As with this whole Baixa area, Rossio was at the upper end of the area of Lisbon, stretching from the Tejo River, that was rebuilt in a planned manner following the devestating earthquake of 1755. The orderly fashion of the streets in this part of Lisbon owe that to the designer, the Marques de Pombal.
Probably the most trodden square of Lisboa is Praça Dom Pedro IV, aka Rossio. It is noted for the tall white pillar with a black figure on top. There is also a green fountain just south of the pillar of Dom Pedro.
Nevermind its lackluster history, I will tell you what Rossio is really like....
Come here to experience a medley of bums, tourists, drug dealers, and locals. They all congregate here to dine, shop, bathe in the fountain, whatever...
Seriously, I have seen a woman bathing in this fountain trying to scrap up change from the bottom in attempts to pay a drug dealer for some hashish.
It is one of the most interesting places to people-watch in Lisbon because of the diversity of characters.
Restaurants and cafes tend to be a bit pricier here because this is a tourist center. If you are a tourist, expect to be incessantly hassled by the peddlers. Street performers will also approach you if you are seated on the street for a drink or a bite to eat, and they will try to bug the heck out of you till you give them your change and tell them to scram.
You will encounter bums sleeping on the public benches while hoards of pigeons fly around eating the scraps from under your table.
Watch out when crossing the streets here, the drivers will not stop for anything! They would probably run you over before ever putting their foot on the brakes!
Even amidst all the chaos and tourists, there is something about this square that is entirely irresistable and I love it.
As we emerged from the Triumphal Arch into the huge Praca do Comercio itself, we were very interested to see a large display of unique photographs from around the world. This was done as part of Lisbon's welcome to the world as the host of the Euro2004 football tournament, which is held every four years to determine the winner of Europe's version of the 'World Cup'. It just so happened that we were touring Ireland during Euro2000 and Portugal's young team surprised many with its showing then (France was the eventual winner). This time, Portugal made it all the way to the final, but lost to Greece.
This photograph especially caught our eye. It shows the deforestation caused on Madagascar by the local population seeking out all sources of firewood. The scene shows the slopes of the volcano near Ankisabe and Antananarivo.
The Royal yellow buildings in the background are part of the former Royal palace that was built here following the 1755 earthquake. They now serve commercial purposes.
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.
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.
Once the city's central marketplace and an important entertainment spot, the "Praça da Figueira" (Figtree Square), built in the 19th century has lost now much of its importance, it connects "Martim Moniz" to Rossio and is surrounded by hotels and cafés. There are also a tremendous amount of pigeons flying around.
In the middle, you can see a bronze statue of King D. João I who reigned between 1385-1433 and was very loved by his people, he is known as the "Good" or "Great" king. In 1387 he marries Filipa of Lancaster, creating even stronger bonds with the British empire. 1390 marked the death of King John of Castilla, who left no heirs and, therefore, was no longer a threat to the Portuguese throne. This allowed D. João to dedicate himself to developing the country economically and socially, as there were no more wars to fight, the only exception being the conquest of Ceuta (North Africa) in 1415 for its strategic importance.
The Restauradores Square commemorates Portugal's liberation from 60 years of Spanish rule in 1640. In the centre of the square is a 30 m tall obelisk which was built in 1886.
Apart from that the square is home to some interesting buildings like the luxurious Avenida Palace hotel, the Foz Palace, the Art Deco Hotel Eden. Finally Restauradores is also the terminus of the Elevador da Gloria.
The Restauradores Square is situated in the heart of the Baixa district, just north of the Rossio Square. The nearest metro stop is "Restauradores" (blue line).
The Rossio Square, also known as Praca Dom Pedro IV, is one of the most beautiful and busiest squares of Lisbon.
The square is home to the statue of Dom Pedro IV who was the first king of independent Brazil. Apart from that, you find Baroque fountains and mosaic-cobbled pavements here.
Important buildings around the square include the Dona Maria II National Theatre, the Cafe Nicola from 1929 and the Church
Igreja de Sao Domingos.
The Rossio Square is situated in the heart of the Baixa district, just south of the Restauradores Square. The nearest metro stop is "Rossio" (green line).
The square popularly referred to as Rossio, and more properly called Praça Dom Pedro IV, is the hub of life in downtown Lisbon. It has several characterful cafés, with outside seating so you can watch all the activity, The most significant building is the Dona Mria II National Theatre on its northern side, a 19th century building whose columns were taken from the earlier Church of St Francis, which was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake. In the centre of the square is the monument that gives it its proper name, a column surmounted by the statue of Dom Pedro IV and surrounded by allegorical marble figures representing justice, wisdom, strength and moderation. Either side of this, are two Baroque fountains, and the square is paved throughout with black and white cobbles in a wave pattern. This design formed the model for many others throughout Portugal and in its former colonies – we saw just the same design in Brazil on the pavements lining Copacabana beach and in the square in front of the Manaus Opera House. Incidentally, I found that if I walked with my head down watching the wave pattern oscillate I could make myself almost dizzy (much as when you watch clouds racing past a tall skyscraper and feel as if it might topple over on to you).
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.
In 1998 a man named Beat Seeberger-Quin had the idea to use the Cow shape as a way to bring Public Art to Zurich, Switzerland. Pascal Knapp sculpted some cow forms for the project, and many artists were invited to design Cow art for these forms. Since that time many cities have been hosts to the Cow Parade project.
For the first time, the biggest Public Art comes to Lisbon; a spectacle that will contribute to illuminate the hearts of residents and visitors. The result is whimsical... and it is in exhibition until October 2006 around the streets parks and public spaces of Lisbon.
In each city painters (some recognized, others only beginners) designers, architects or even fine art students all are invited to participate with their ideas for the Cow Parade. Each cow has a sponsor, a person, or company, or store that would pay for the cow to be made. Sometimes the design of the cow has a theme that represents the sponsor in some way. In Lisbon case you will notice some PT peculiarities. Later the cows are sold at auctions to raise money for charities.
Please come and see their imagination and artistic talents.