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Praca do Comercio
Praca do Comercio, Where History Is Wrapped In Art
Before the Praca do Comercio was constructed, the land was the Ribeira Palace. The palace was known as one of the grandest buildings in Lisbon, decorated with many works of art. When a great earthquake occurred in 1755, the palace was totally destroyed, together with more than 70.000 books that were being kept in the palace. Not long after the earthquake, the city was reconstructed. Praca do Comercio was designed to rival the biggest squares in Europe during that time. The place was then used to help the economics of Lisbon. This is also because the location of the square that is very near to River Tagus. Back then, commercial ships would unload their goods into the square. The arch that is located in the square also symbolizes that the square is the door to Lisbon.
The Praca do Comercio is a major transport hub both for locals and foreign tourists. The square is the departure point for tram network heading to Belem district or Basilica da Estrela. There is also the major commuter ferry terminal with departures south across River Tagus. Near the ferry terminal, there is the blue metro line. When you used these public transports to come to the square, you will be welcomed by a statue of King Jose I. King Jose I was the ruler of Portuguese when the city was reconstructed, and the statue was inaugurated on his birthday on 6 June 1775. You will see King Jose I riding his horse that is crushing snakes with its hoofs. While on the bronze emblem on the front side of the pedestal is the image of Marques de Pombal, the prime minister during that era. The bis size of the statue makes it becoming a meeting point and it is not rare to see people sit under the statue.
Praca do Comercio has been a place where all kinds of events happened. It was the palace before the earthquake and the tsunami wiped everything in 1755. In 1908, it was the place where King Carlos and his heir, Luis Filipe, were assassinated. In 1974, thousands of people assembled in the square to overthrow the dictatorial regime. Nowadays, the square is still used for events, including the last Eurovision Village in last May.
The Praca do Comercio is easily spotted with the statue of King Jose I and the U-shaped yellow building. The yellow traditional building is used by the ministry while the ground floor is used for art galleries and museums. There were also some famous restaurants and cafes nearby. However, when you visit the square, then you should take a look on the arch at the center of the building. The arch, named Rua Augusta Arch, was built to celebrate the reconstruction of Lisbon after the earthquake, and was completed in 1873. The pillars were decorated with a lot of statues represent important people from Portuguese.
If you walk along the yellow building in the square, you will find the Lisboa Story Centre. Inside, you won't be accompanied by tour guide, but you will be able to learn the history of Lisbon through an audio guided tour that will explain about certain things shown in different TV screens. The good thing is that the audio guide can read your location, and give you the relevant story with what is shown. The museum also shows about the earthquake in 1755. Here, you can also find and buy Lisbon card that will give you benefits while traveling in Lisbon.
Despite of heavily trafficked roads around Praca do Comercio, the square is limited for pedestrians only. When you visit the square, go south and cross the street and you will see another interesting spot, that is the Cais das Colunas, or Columns Pier. Cais das Colunas is a pretty pier with the iconic wide marble stairway used as the main entrance to the city for centuries. The original pier was dismantled in 1997 due to the construction of the underground metro line. However, in 2008, the pier was restored to its original appearance. The Cais das Colunas is also famous because from this place, you can enjoy the wide open views over the Tagus river.
How to Get Tickets?
You don't need tickets to visit the Praca do Comercio. However, some spots like the viewing platform and museums might need a ticket. Be noted to check in advance when you plan for the trip to the square.
How To Get Around?
Lisbon has choices of public transports that can help you to get around. Some of the tourist attractions can also be reached by metro, buses, and trams for free with the Lisboa card that you can get from the Lisboa Story Centre. You can also use this apps to help you showing the way.
What Should I Wear?
There is no recommended dresscode for visiting Praca do Comercio. However, it is better to think about the weather when you are visiting the square. As the site is located near the river, the wind can get pretty strong too.
Best Time to Visit
The Praca do Comercio opens every day for public. If you want to really enjoy the whole square, then it is better to arrive early because some museums will take an hour or more. Be noticed that the square will be crowded during peak season in the summer.
Will I Need a Guide?
There is no guide in the Praca do Comercio. However, you will find some guided tours when you are visiting the museums located around the square. There are also some private tours available.
How To Get There?
The easiest way to reach Praca do Comercio using public transport is by riding the blue line or the green and blue lines metro.