Commercial Square (Praca do Comercio) in Lisbon - interesting facts, sightseeing

Commercial Square (Praca do Comercio), Lisbon

Two stories

A short story about The work of de Comercio (i.e. the Commercial Square) must be divided into two parts. The breaking point is strong earthquake, which in 1755 razed a large part of Lisbon to the ground and changed the face of the city, including Commercial Square.

Palace Square

Before the earthquake in 1755, the impressive Ribeir Palace stood here, which for 250 years (until the earthquake) served as the seat of the Portuguese kings. A second, historic name is still in use today: Terreiro do Paço, meaning the old Palace Square. This is also the name of the metro station located under the square.

Comercio Square seen from the Tagus River side

Sea power

The turn of the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries was a time when Portugal, a maritime power, and in particular Lisbon, was an extremely important place for Europe. After all, we remember that it was the era of the Great Geographical Discoveries. The coast of Portugal, as the most western part of Europe, was naturally the best starting point for expeditions. It was here that many of the most important expeditions for the world began, and here, too, some of them happily ended their runs.
Of course, happy returns were more eagerly celebrated than the uncertain moments for the start of the expedition. When the expedition ended and was successful, the king eagerly used the chance to show himself in the splendor of success and officially welcomed the heroes returning from the sea. The conditions were perfect for this. It is enough (standing in the present Commercial Square) to look around and imagine that in our place there is the now non-existent Ribeir Palace, directly adjacent to the coast of the Tagus River, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean a few kilometers away. Ships returning from distant voyages could stop almost at the threshold of the royal residence, and the king could proudly watch their triumphant return. The setting for demonstrating one's own power was perfect.

Ribeira Palace before the earthquake

The quake and the tsunami

Then came the earthquake, and the city was flooded by a massive tsunami caused by the earthquake, and fires completed the destruction. The Royal Palace, which was almost fresh after another huge expansion, was in ruins. The Opera do Tejo, opened only a few months earlier, ceased to exist. The collections of the royal library located in the palace (one of the largest in Europe, decorated with paintings by Titian) were completely destroyed. A collection of over 70 volumes, works of art, royal archives, historical records related to the expeditions of Vasco da Gamma and other travelers ... everything is irretrievably lost.

Comercio square today. Lisbon

Reconstruction

The city was slowly recovering from its devastation, but the reconstruction plan developed by the Marquis de Pombal did not envisage rebuilding the palace. King Joseph I the Reformer accepted the change proposed by Pombal and a square was built in the place of the royal palace, and in the center a huge monument of ... King Joseph I the Reformer on horseback.
The king decided not to rebuild the palace because he was much more comfortable living in a pavilion complex in the Ajuda hills, where he spent the rest of his life. Józef I the Reformer suffered from claustrophobia and definitely preferred open spaces. So he probably did not miss typical closed palace spaces.
The symbol of the palace that existed earlier here are the two squat corner towers located at the two ends of the edge of the square running along the coast. Their character refers to the character of the Ribeira Palace that used to stand here.

Statue of King Joseph I of the Reformer in Comercio Square, Lisbon
Columns on the waterfront, Lisbon

Quay of the columns

When visiting Plac Handlowy, pay attention to the two columns standing at the end of the marble stairs flowing into the water. Columns and stairs together form the so-called The Kolumn Quay (Cais das Colunas), i.e. the official and elegant quay prepared, among others, by for the mooring of boats and ships bringing official and important guests to Lisbon.
In 1957, the English Queen Elizabeth II disembarked during a visit to Portugal, which you can see in the archival film below.

Useful data

Commercial Square (Praca do Comercio), GPS coordinates:
38°42’25.6″N 9°08’10.5″W
38.707113, -9.136262 - click and route

The position of Comercio Square on the Lisbon map (No. 1 on the itinerary) is indicated by the arrow

Accommodation in Lisbon

To facilitate the search for accommodation, I will present here some interesting (in my opinion) proposals from the historic center of Lisbon. Don't consider them "just the best". They are an interesting proposition and can be a good choice or a good starting point for further research. Clicking on any of these hotels will take you to the offer details and (perhaps even more importantly) will display a list of similar offers. Thanks to this, you will immediately gain access to a list of interesting accommodation, which you can then filter and view according to your preferences.

Dream Chiado Apartments - [click]

Lisbon Downtown Inn - [click]

Rodamon Lisboa - [click]

Lisbon sightseeing itinerary

This post is part of a very detailed Lisbon sightseeing itinerary that I have developed. The plan is available for free and you can see it on the website: Lisbon sightseeing plan - map, attractions, monuments, tickets, accommodation, interesting facts

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