On our first night in Lisbon we headed for Commerce Square to dine at one of the restaurants there. It was beautiful at night, all lit up and sparkling but I wanted to return in the daytime and explore a little more. After breakfast at our hotel that is just what we did.
The square is really easy to find and was a short stroll from our hotel in the Baixa area. Lovely by night, it is grand and impressive by day. This is the main square in Lisbon and stands right on the banks of the river. Check out that broad and imposing riverfront view.
You can imagine how in days of old traders would have sold their foreign wares in this square and financiers would have funded expeditions to the far reaches of the known world. The wealth of Portugal was once channeled through this area. Before the earthquake in 1755 it was also home to the royal palace. It still has an air of grandness.
The elegant arcaded streets surrounding the broad and wide square are simply stunning. This whole area was rebuilt after the earthquake in 1755 when more than 100,000 people died and Baixa was destroyed.
The enormous statue right in the middle is King Jose, they pay homage to him here for rebuilding the city after the earthquake.
We strolled past the statue and right to the southern end of the square and the Cais das Colunas. This is a set of marble stairs leading straight to the water. They were built so royal dignitaries once could make a grand entrance when arriving in the city. Prior to 1755 the steps led straight to the royal palace. No dignitaries now but we loved it here, the views across the river to the suspension bridge and the Christ statue are wonderful.
The colonnades around the square house a whole series of cafes, bars and restaurants. We had a delicious meal in Cheffe Cordeiro on our first evening, today we enjoyed sitting in a cafe sipping coffee and watching the world go by. There were a few buskers and street performers plus no end of great people watching. Even Son who doesn’t like to sit still for too long enjoyed it here.
The Triumph Arch marks the entrance to the buzzing Rua de Augusta, a pedestrian street in Baixa which is well worth browsing along. The arch is impressive and full of detail, we decided to take in the views from the top.
The entrance was easy to find, the fee to go up was reasonable so we soon found ourselves swishing upwards in a modern lift. At the second floor we had to get out and climb some narrow steps to get right to the top. There weren’t too many though and the traffic light system they had in place worked very well. No queues at all here and not too many people up there.
The tower and bell still work and we had a quick read about the history of the arch before taking the steps to the top.
Wow moment followed – the views over the square are fantastic, the panoramas of the city are wonderful and Son was super pleased to get to check out the statues on top at close quarters. That toe – from below it was insignificant but huge close up.
We stayed for quite some time just watching the busy streets below with people looking like little ants, glad we had come up here.
It was definitely worth coming back to this wonderful square and exploring again – we saw it by day, by night and from on high – beautiful at all times and from all angles.