PRAÇA DOS RESTAURADORES
A tall obelisk measuring 30 meters (about 100 feet) was placed at the center of this square in 1886. It’s a square mostly frequented by tourists who look for the tourism office in the beautiful Foz Palace or head to Hard Rock Cafe. Others stop for an ice cream at Veneziana or sit on the terrace of Pinóquio restaurant. The former Eden Theatre with its Art Deco façade is now a hotel and there are still two other large hotels, the historic Avenida Palace and the more modern Altis Avenida.
Known for its undulating cobblestone patterns first created in 1848, this square has the official name of Dom Pedro IV but everyone knows it as Rossio. It was one of the first spaces to be decorated with this type of pavement which has become so emblematic of Portugal. On the north side is the National Theater D. Maria II and two monumental fountains are at the center. The historic cafés Nicola and Suiça also survive with their terraces attracting tourists, as does the curious Chapelaria Azevedo Rua. Overlooking it all are Hotel Metropole and the Internacional Design Hotel.
PRAÇA DO COMÉRCIO
It’s Western Europe’s largest royal square (the second largest in the continent after St. Petersburg’s Palace Square), created after the 1755 earthquake. The arcades that surround it were once home to government offices for many years but are now mainly occupied by cafes and restaurants. The most famous of those is Martinho da Arcada, the oldest café in the city and a favorite of poet Fernando Pessoa.
On the north side is a triumphal arch and to the south are two turrets facing the Tagus. This was the noble gateway to Lisbon where heads of state disembarked, and the marble steps of the pier are now usually occupied by tourists who sit admiring the scenery.
At the center of the square is a bronze equestrian statue of King José I unveiled in 1775.
The city’s history is told at the Lisboa Story Centre in the east wing, which also offers cafés that allow you to relax with the river as a backdrop (Can the Can, Populi and Museu da Cerveja). On the opposite side, Aura Lounge and Chefe Cordeiro are the highlights.
PRAÇA DO MARQUÊS DE POMBAL
This square is where the old center meets the modern city. In the middle is a monument erected in 1934 to honor the Marquis of Pombal, the statesman responsible for the rebuilding of Lisbon’s downtown after the 1755 earthquake. His image stands at the top of a pedestal, facing his creation towards the river. Hotels and offices surround the square, while Edward VII Park is seen to the north and Avenida da Liberdade to the south. Worth visiting: the art exhibitions of BES Arte e Finança gallery.
PRAÇA DA FIGUEIRA
Currently serving mostly as a tram terminal, as an underground car park and skate park, this square was once the city’s main marketplace. A covered market built in 1885 was demolished in the 1950s and later a bronze equestrian statue of King John I was erected in its place.
The four-story buildings (many of them in need of renovation) are occupied by hotels and cafes, with the Confeitaria Nacional being an essential stop. The biggest curiosity is the lovely Doll Hospital while the more recent resident is the Beautique Hotel.
PRAÇA LUÍS DE CAMÕES
This square dedicated to Luis de Camões has a monument at the center with an image of the poet dating from 1867. Behind it is an 18th-century building now housing the Brazilian consulate, while on the south side is one of Lisbon’s most emblematic hotels, the Bairro Alto Hotel (worth entering to enjoy a beautiful view of the city from the rooftop bar). You’ll also find a Padaria Portuguesa, a branch of the local chain of bakeries known for its delicious “Pão de Deus” pastry. Alternatively, there’s the kiosk serving refreshments in the open air.
LARGO DO CARMO
This jacaranda-filled square is home to the ruins of Carmo Convent. Built in the 14th century, the monument was partially destroyed in the earthquake of 1755 and today is an archaeological museum. To its left is the headquarters of the National Guard where prime minister Marcelo Caetano took refuge during the 1974 revolution, leading the government to surrender on this spot. To the right is a gate leading to the Santa Justa Elevator. It was also here that the first Portuguese university was founded in 1290, where now stands the Valadares Palace descending Calçada do Sacramento.
In front of the convent is a drinking fountain from 1771 which provided water from the Águas Livres Aqueduct. Today it’s surrounded by café terraces, and mostly recommended is Chá do Carmo for a tea break and a visit to the beautiful Sapataria do Carmo shoe store.
On the northwest corner of the square is the Lisboa Carmo Hotel.
PRAÇA DO MUNICÍPIO
The monarchy came to an end and a new republic was proclaimed on this square on October 5th, 1910. It’s now where official celebrations recalling that date take place every year. At the center is a 10m-high pillory made of marble after the 1755 earthquake, replacing the one that existed previously. The five steps at its base are now used by tourists who stop to relax and admire the cobblestone pavement and the municipal palace. Next to that building is the former St. Julien Church, today the Money Museum.
To admire it all, sit at the tables of the kiosk café.
LARGO DE SÃO CARLOS
Named after the theater built here in 1793, this square is also known for being the birthplace of poet Fernando Pessoa. Two of the city’s best restaurants (Belcanto and Largo) face the theater, as do a Marc by Marc Jacobs and Godiva store.
The tables on the terrace are those of Café Lisboa of celebrity chef José Avillez.
For several weeks during the summer the square hosts outdoor concerts.
PRAÇA DE SÃO PAULO
It’s been a sad case of neglect over the last few years but there are currently signs of a rebirth.
The Cais do Sodré district has been revived through new bars and restaurants, and a good choice for petiscos (“tapas”) is Taberna Tosca which faces the square and its 18th-century church. This is a square with a beautiful symmetrical harmony but unfortunately many of the buildings that surround it are abandoned.
A beautiful old kiosk serves refreshments throughout the day.
Source: Lisbon Lux