If you need the bathroom, try “The Sexiest WC on Earth”. Found in the square, it’s a fun attempt to revolutionise the usually dreadful experience of a public toilet!
The magnificent Commerce Square stretches from the riverfront of the Tagus and into Lisbon. Its 18th century arcades, cobbled streets and cream and lemon façades have enchanted visitors for more than two centuries. It was once the gateway for trade and visitors from the port, and even today it is still full of life, with its rattling trams and milling crowds.
On the north side of the square stands Verissimo da Costa’s splendid Arco da Victória, crowned with famous figures, including the 15th century explorer Vasco da Gama, a favourite son of the Portugal. On the same side of the square you can also find Café Martinho da Arcada, one of Lisbon’s legendary cafés. Enjoy an espresso where writers such as Fernando Pessoa and Eça de Quieroz once used to scribble.
On the 1st of November, a huge earthquake, followed by a tsunami and raging fires, destroyed most of Lisbon in the course of a cataclysmic day. As part of an effort to rebuild the city spearheaded by the architect Eugénio dos Santos, Commerce Square was constructed. It’s symmetrical buildings were filled with government bureaus to regulate and strengthen the trade coming to Lisbon from overseas.
A Royal Mess
A statue of Dom José I stands regally in the centre of the square. He is sat astride a horse, trampling snakes under hoof. His statue is the last bit of royalty left in the square, which prior to the 1755 earthquake had been the site of the Palácio da Ribeira.
In 1908 the square was actually where the monarchy fell, when anarchists assassinated Dom Carlos I and his son. Their bodyguards returned fire into the panicking crowd, killing two of an unknown number of assailants, but the damage was done. Two years later the Republican Party overthrew the Portuguese monarchy for good.
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