Praça do Comércio, Lisbon
From the time before the earthquake until the present day, the name Terreiro do Paço (Palace Square), has been customarily used by the people of Lisbon to mean the Praça do Comércio (Trade Square). The royal palace Paço da Ribeira, into which Manuel I moved in the 16th C., stood on this site on the river bank until 1755. The Terreiro do Paço was consequently used as a place to receive kings and guests, who arrived by ship - although it was also used as a setting for burning heretics and for bullfights.
Praca do Comercio Map
Transit: Tram: 17, 18; Bus: 1, 2, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 25, 25A, 28, 32, 35, 39, 40, 43, 44, 45, 46, 59, 80, 81, 82, 83, 90, 107.
Praca do Comercio Highlights
The uniform north front of the Praça do Comércio is interrupted in the middle by the Rua Augusta, forming a direct link to the Rossio. The opening is spanned by a lavish triumphal arch, which was not completed until 1873. The marble statues, which flank the royal coat of arms, portray (from left to right) Viriatus, the legendary leader of the Lusitanians in the battle against the Romans, the mariner Vasco da Gama and Nuno Álvares Pereira, who defended Portugal's independence against the Spanish. The figures on the sides are allegories of the Tagus (left) and the Douro (right). On top of the arch stands a group of allegorical figures, in the middle of which Glory crowns Genius and Courage. The triumphal arch is expected to be made accessible to the public in future so that it becomes a fine viewing platform for the Baixa.
Jose I Memorial
The equestrian statue of José I, the work of Machado de Castro, the famous sculptor from the Mafra school, was erected in the center of the Praça do Comércio in 1755. It is dedicated to the king, under whom Minister Pombal had a completely free hand in the rebuilding of the city after the earthquake. Pombal himself is immortalized in a bronze medallion on the pedestal of the statue. The medallion was removed on the orders of Maria I, who extensively undid Portugal's reforms, but was returned in 1833.The whole statue measures 14m/46ft tall, the equestrian statue alone is a good 7m/23ft and weighs about 30 tons. It was the first bronze memorial to be cast in Portugal, in the military arsenal at the foot of Alfama, in which the Museu Militar is now housed. It was brought to the Praça do Comércio in a specially prepared vehicle accompanied by a carnival procession of more than 1,000 citizens. Models of the memorial and the vehicle are on view in the Museu Militar. The English name for the square, Black Horse Square, is derived from the original dark bronze of the equestrian statue.
Cafe Martinho da Arcada
The Cafe Martinho da Arcada, located somewhat inconspicuously in the northeast corner of the Praça do Comércio under the arcades, has a long history. It was founded in 1782, but did not get its name until later from the owner Martinho. A regular of the cafe was Portugal's most famous 20th C. poet, Fernando Pessoa. Pessoa worked and lived for a long time in the Baixa and is said to have written pieces of his work in the Martinho da Arcada after closing time. Until the autumn of 1989 the cafe was retained in the style in which Pessoa enjoyed it. Following suggestions made by a Pessoa society, which calls itself the Friends of the Martinho da Arcada, the cafe has been restored and renovated and was reopened early in 1990 as a quality restaurant and esplanade cafe. Now it is chiefly the employees of the surrounding ministries who meet here for lunch.
Quay of Pillars
The south side of the Praça do Comércio, which opens onto the waterfront, ends in the Cais das Colunas; a small flight of steps leads gently into the water, with their end marked by two pillars. From here the view below the Ponte 25 de Abril extends to the Atlantic. To the north the whole square is visible in front of the backdrop of the Castelo de Sao Jorge.
Estacao Sul e Sueste
The "river railroad" Sul e Sueste, constructed in 1931 by the architect Cottinelli Telmo, is located on the southeast edge of the Praça do Comércio. The Cais da Alfândega is located immediately next to the Estaçao Sul e Sueste, the mooring place for passenger ferries sailing to and from Cacilhas, Seixal, Barreiro and Montijo.
More Praca do Comercio Pictures
Map of Lisbon Attractions