Baixa

Walking down from Rossio is Baixa which displays a lively atmosphere for its visitors. The Praça dos Restauradores commemorate Portugal’s independence from Spain. Surrounding buildings, which were rebuilt after the Great Earthquake by the order of Marquês de Pombal, reflect the architectural taste of late 18th century, and wide boulevards remind 19th century of Paris. Pombal wanted to rebuild an earthquake-proof town and it is for this reason Baixa is constructed in a grid fashion with roads and pavements 12 meters wide.

The three main streets that connect the squares are Rua do Ouro, Rua Augusta and Rua da Prata. What is interesting to note in Baixa is that from the beginning, each street was given a specific function which was reflected in its name. Rua dos Sapateiros (Cobbler’s Street), Rua da Prata (Silversmiths’ Street), Rua do Ouro (Goldsmith’s Street) and Rua do Comércio (Commercial Street) are the best examples for that. Although it was once a very popular commercial center, nowadays it seems to have lost its fame. However, some of its old fashioned shops still continue to retain their crafts.

Closed to the cars, the central street Rua Agusta is the most significant shopping street in Baixa and hosts various cloth merchants, cafes, restaurants, shops, banks and street performers. When descending Rua Agusta, turning on the first street on the right will lead you to the Santa Justa Elevator. Opened to the public in 1902, The Elevador de Santa Justa is designed in neo-Gothic style by Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard who was said to have been an apprentice to Gustave Eiffel (the designer of famous Eiffel Tower in Paris). Rising vertically 45 meters from the Rua de Santa Justa in Baixa, the Elevator provides views of the Baixa quarter and the River Tagus.

In the end of Rua Agusta is Praça do Comércio - Lisbon’s grandest square. The Praça was built in the end of Baixa, because Marquês de Pombal wanted a wide square that stood out in Europe. All the streets in Baixa will lead you there. Coming by river, most visitors will feel like city’s entrance. Here the bronze statue of Dom João I (18th century), Verissimo da Costa’s Arch (19th century) opening onto Rua Agosta and a symbol of Portugal’s imperial power Terreiro do Paço can be observed. The Praça today serves as the headquarters of several Portuguese government ministries and also as fairgrounds for concerts and exhibitions.