Rossio

The best way to start up your trip in Lisbon is to visit the old heart of the city, Rossio, first. Rebuilt in 18th century, after the great earthquake of 1755, The Praça Dom Pedro IV is the busiest square of Lisbon. Once used as a cattle market, a public execution center, bullfight arena and carnival ground, today the Praça serves both for the locals and the tourists with its well-known cafés.

In the middle of the Praça stands the statue of Dom Pedro IV. The story goes that the statue of the king was originally appeared in the image of Maximilian of Mexico in Marseilles. However, when the statue was being transported to Mexico through Lisbon, word came that Maximilian had been assassinated. The Lisbon authorities took this opportunity to acquire the statue on a cheap deal and after a few changes, the statue placed in the heart of Rossio as Dom Pedro IV. The figures around the base represent Justice, Wisdom, Courage and Restraint. Today, the statue serves one of the highest monuments in Lisbon, being over 27 meters high.

At the end of the square is the Queen Maria II National Theater (Teatro Nacional de Dona Maria II) where Africans come together and catch up with the news from Angola or Guinea-Bissau. The reason why this particular area became a gathering point for Africans is that across the Theater, behind Rossio, damaged by a fire São Domingos Church, traditionally had an African priest. Today, the Church is one of the most intriguing churches in Lisbon. The church has just about survived earthquakes in 1531 and 1755, and fire in 1959. The upper part was designed by the Ludovice of Mafra architect dating 1748. Today, the smell of smoke seems to intermittently fill its grey-orange interior and leave its visitors with unusual feelings. In the square in front of the church (Largo de São Domingos), you will see crowd fortifying themselves with a nip of Ginjinha, the cough syrup-like brandy made from cherries that is served from various stand-up bars in the area.

When walking in Rossio, Rossio Train Station will definitely catch your attention with its neo-manueline style beautiful architecture. This magnificent building will give you the impression of entering into a palace rather than a train station.

When tired of sight-seeing, don’t forget to stop by in café Nicola to taste Portuguese sweets and pastries. Founded in 1929, this café is one of the oldest coffeehouses in Lisbon and today serves also as a restaurant. With its intriguing architecture and history, it is one of the cafés where famous Portuguese poet, Fernando Pessoa, wrote great part of his works. Today, the coffee shop continues to inspire its visitors.