Praça do Commercio: Visit the central point of Lisbon



Joanna Horanin

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Last updated at 16/06/2024, 12:30

Hi, I'm Joanna, the author of The Blond Travels. In the worlds of Thailand and Portugal, I feel like a fish in water - and it's no coincidence! I've been exploring Thailand for over a decade, and I've settled in Portugal for 6 years now. My mission is to support Dreamers - just like you - in discovering these fascinating countries and helping those in love with them find their own place on Earth, preferably for good! Let's uncover these unique corners of the world together.

Praça do Commercio, or Commercio Square, is the focal point of Lisbon. This is where you are sure to hit on your first day. Check out what to look out for and where to go in the square. Learn about the history of the place and plan your stay in Lisbon.

Lisbon is a beautiful city and Praça do Commercio is its centerpiece. It is impossible to not to sigh with delight when you see it for the first time. It is also a place full of history that tells a lot about Lisbon and its people.

Head to Commercio Square and learn even more about the Portuguese capital.

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The history of the Commercio Square

The history of the square begins in the 16th century. It was then that the area began to develop. Ships with goods were arriving in Lisbon and the banks of the Tagus itself grew in importance. The then King of Portugal, Manuel I, decided to build the Ribeira Palace on the river, about which legends still circulate.
It is said to have been one of the most beautiful buildings in the country, and perhaps even in Europe.

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    Soon after, more buildings began to be built around it, housing various commercial and government institutions.

    During the great earthquake of 1755, the area was completely destroyed. The reconstruction of the capital was handled by Marques de Pombal, to whom we owe the present appearance of the square.
    In the 19th century, the beautiful Augusta Arch, which is also a landmark, was finished.

    For a long time the square served as a commercial center, where various goods were bought, sold and kept. That was until 1908 and the assassination of King Carlos I, which was the beginning of the kingdom’s decline.

    Today Praça do Commercio is a major tourist attraction in the capital, but also a beautiful place to sit and enjoy the beauty of the Tagus River. It is definitely a square worth seeing in the heart of the city.

    Here are the main attractions on the Commercio Square.

    The Joseph I Monument

    A king's monument in the square of lisbon.
    The central point of the square is marked with this beautiful monument.

    In the middle of the square stands a large statue of King Joseph I. The figure sits on a beautiful horse that tramples symbolic snakes in its path.

    The author of this monument was Machado de Castro, one of Portugal’s most famous sculptors.

    The Augusta Arch

    Right at the entrance to the city’s main street you will find the great triumphal arch – Arco da Rua Augusta. It was completed in the 20th century and immortalized the rebuilding of Lisbon after the earthquake.

    On top of the arch you’ll find the figures of Glory, Ingenuity and Courage. In addition, the arch also features Vasco da Gama, Viriatus, Nuno Alvares Pereira, and Marques de Pombal.

    You can enter the arch. There is a small entrance just behind it. Admission costs 3 euros. It’s really worth going up, because the view is amazing.

    The Martinho da Arcada Café

    The oldest restaurant in Lisbon, which attracts tourists here not only for its history, but also for its atmosphere. The pub is decorated in the old style and can seem to have gone back in time.

    It was one of the favorite places of the famous writer Fernando Pessoa. It is said that he will return here one day and that is why a special table is kept for him.

    Cais das Colunas

    The shore of the Tag river in Lisbon.
    This is a nice spot to rest a bit and admire the views.

    Just opposite the square you will find two columns sticking out of the water. This used to be a place where ships docked. Today it’s one of the spots where you can sit, look at the water, listen to live music and relax.

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    Lisboa Story Centre

    Lisboa Story Centre is an interactive museum of the city, one of many museums in the capital that are worth visiting. It’s brilliantly done and you can really remember a lot from it.
    The tour lasts about 2 hours. The exhibits are divided by the years and centuries in which the city developed. At the entrance, in the price of the ticket, you get an electronic guide who senses by himself where you are and tells you the history of Lisbon in a very pleasant and light-hearted way.

    Admission costs 7 Euros and it is really very worth a look there. (Guides are unfortunately not available in Polish).

    The Beer Museum

    A woman with a manekin, Lisbon museum.
    The museum is very small. Go there if you like beer. If you don’t, skip this attraction.

    The Beer Museum, located right next to Lisboa Story Centre, is where you’ll visit a very tiny museum dedicated to this hoppy beverage. You go inside with a guide and tour the exhibits, which show how the beer came to be so popular.

    At the end, you get to pick one kraft for yourself. In my opinion, the attraction is not worth 7.5 euros. It’s better to stay downstairs, sit at a table, order a beer and a pastel de bacalhão and enjoy the view of the Plaza.

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    Practical Information

    Praça do Commercio is located on the river between the Terreiro do Paço and Cais do Sodré metro stations.

    You can reach the square by metro. The closest stations are Baixa Chiado and Terreiro do Paço. Some buses also stop at the square.
    And, of course, you’ll get to the capital by plane. Check out the connections on Skyscanner.

    There is a lot of accommodation around Praça do Commercio. Probably the most atmospheric place is Alfama. There, however, prices can be high. Check here for prices in Alfama.
    If you prefer other places, try the Chiado area or a little further away – Santos.

    Check here for prices of accommodation in Lisbon.

    From Praça do Commercio, head through Rua Augusta to Rossio and on to Avenida da Liberdade.

    If you want to know more about Lisbon and are going there for the first time, I recommend my guide to help you organize your trip.