Rossio Square hosts A Ginjinha, where you can try Lisbon’s famous cherry liquor. There are not many such establishments left, so be sure to visit!
Lined with cafés and shops, Rossio Square is always buzzing. Shoe shiners, office workers and hawkers all contribute to the churn and excitement of Lisbon’s liveliest public area, which has seen witch burnings, bullfights, rallies, and everything in between over the years. Let yourself be carried along by the crowd and the famous black and white wavelike cobbles — which you may recognise from Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana.
Emperor and Liberator
The connection between Portugal and Brazil is celebrated with a statue of Dom Pedro IV, Brazil’s first Emperor, atop a towering marble pedestal in the middle of the square. Though born in Lisbon, when Portugal was invaded by the French in 1807 Pedro and his family fled to their largest and wealthiest colony, Brazil.
Relations between Brazil and Portugal were fraught at the time, and in 1822 Pedro chose his side and declared Brazil’s independence — hence his nickname, “the liberator”. Though he died young, he helped both countries make the first steps from absolutist to more representative forms of government.
A Small Irony
Rossio Square seems energetic now, but it’s nothing compared to how it once was. When the Inquisition was installed in Lisbon in the 15th century, Rossio Square was a favourite spot for an auto-da-fé - the ritual of public penance of condemned heretics before they were gruesomely killed, often by being burnt at the stake.
After a fire of its own in 1836, the old Inquisition Palace was destroyed. The government chose to replace it with a majestic neoclassical theatre, the the Teatro Nacional Dona Mario II. A statue of the Renaissance Portuguese playwright Gil Vicente stands over the pediment of the theatre; a number of his plays had been censured by the Inquisition in the 16th century.
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