Visit the iconic Rossio and admire its fountains and architecture. The square has played an important role in Lisbon’s history since the medieval times.
The open area made it once ideal for marketplaces and fairs, military parades, political rallies, bullfighting, and even “autos-de-fé”, the public ritual of punishing heretics during the Portuguese Inquisition.
With the 1755 earthquake, several buildings were destroyed, and the square was converted into the rectangular shape plaza you see today, with a number of buildings occupied by hotels and cafés.
During the nineteenth century, cafés in Rossio were important meeting points for Lisbon’s intellectuals, mostly painters and writers. You will find a few remaining cafés with outdoor seats perfect for people-watching, namely the historic Café Nicola linked to the Portuguese poet Bocage, and Pastelaria Suíça, also facing Praça da Figueira, Rossio’s adjacent square.
While still part of Lisbon’s life – many locals cross the square daily on their way to Rua Augusta and the nearby streets – nowadays Rossio only occasionally witnesses political rallies and other public gatherings.
In the centre of Rossio stands the statue of King Dom Pedro IV on top of a column, hence Praça Dom Pedro IV being Rossio’s other name. Two Baroque fountains can be found on either side. The Portuguese calçada (traditional pavement featuring mosaics of limestone and black basalt) dates back from the nineteenth century. On the north side of the square stands the National Theatre.