Praça do Comércio, translated as Commerce Square, is a must-see location positioned in the heart of Lisbon. Also known as Terreiro do Paço – Palace Yard – it was called so because of the location of the Paço da Ribeira or Royal Ribeira Palace. After the 1755 earthquake, the entire square was remodelled and the present Praça do Comércio stands in place of the former Palace Yard and symbolises the beating heart of Lisbon tourism and trade!
With grand facades, mosaic cobbles and 18th-century arcades, this busy location is considered a National Monument of Portugal. Always bustling with activity, one can get lost in the bygone era of the Portuguese culture in these ancient walled streets.
In fact I have got lost here many a time, but completely on purpose as I let serendipity take the lead! Using this method I have happenstanced upon a great many delights which I might not have ordinarily thought to try. However, with or without map, you can’t really miss Praça do Comércio, and if you do, you were probably not in Lisbon. I have been to all the restaurants and clubs here and have never had any complaints other than they tend to be on the pricey side. I would however avoid the sunglasses and hat sellers in the area, they are selling more than hats and sunglasses but nothing you would be interested in. Unless smoking blue-tac is your thing in which case expect to pay about 80 euros for a nice big lump of it!
At the centre of the square is a majestic, equestrian statue of King Jose I and was designed by Joaquim Machado de Castro, the most sought after sculptor of that era. The main crowd puller of the square is the Arco da Rua Augusta designed by Verissimo da Costa. This arch has statues of valor, ingenuity, and glory. Moreover, the statues of Viriatus, Nuno Álvares Pereira, Vasco da Gama, and the Marquis of Pombal are also engraved on the arch. The arch comes alive at dusk and glows with a golden hue.
June 10 each year is great day here for Lisbon tourism when Praça do Comércio square fills with military and people gathering to celebrate the “Day of Portugal.” The square also houses Martin da Arcada, the oldest cafe in the city and the ancient Pousada Hotel.
Aside from the many restaurants in the square, the famous Museu da Cerveja, Rive-Rouge etc. you also get a perfect view of the river from which to enjoy the fresh Atlantic breeze. Lisbon’s location close to the sea is an asset to the cuisine in Lisbon. There is an abundance of fresh seafood, which tops every Michelin starred restaurant’s kitchen, gourmet food markets and taverns or tascas. Lisbon is a paradise for seafood lovers. Try the delicious bacalhau, a dried and salted codfish preparation, or the bacalhau a bras, a scrumptious dish prepared with shredded cod with onions, eggs and potatoes.
Bacalhau is the salted fish speciality but some are definitely better than others.
Nearby Lisbon tourism spots:
- Rossio Square: Rossio square is located in the Pombaline Downtown of Lisbon and has been one of the main squares in Lisbon since the Middle Ages.
- Museu da Cerveja: A veritable celebration of all things beer! (Portuguese Beer)
- Public Ferry & Boat: public river transport service integrated into the global system of the Lisbon Metropolitan Area.
- Alfama District is the oldest but often most vibrant and entertaining part of town!
- If you are looking for other great places in Lisbon to frequent then click on the above link!