The Baixa district of Lisbon, also called Baixa Pombalina (in memory of Marquês de Pombal, responsible for rebuilding the Portuguese capital after the famous earthquake of 1755 that destroyed a huge part of the city) is considered by many the most beautiful and charismatic historic centers of Europe.
Its wonderful avenues, magnificent plazas, boutiques, delicious restaurants, modern shops operating side by side with the traditional local commerce are the reason why many tourists from different parts of the world visit Lisbon every single day.
Because of its diversity, Lisbon's downtown is not a place to be visited in one single day. In this article, we would like to help you explore this amazing area of Lisbon by sharing with you 7 landmarks that you must visit during your time in Lisbon.
Designed by Raul Mesnier de Ponsard, a student of the famous iron craftsman Gustave Eiffel, the Elevador de Santa Justa was erected in 1902. The elevator was built to provide an easy and quick access to the Carmo Hill, even more, relevant when considering the high temperatures of the Portuguese summer.
Nowadays, the elevator is one of biggest tourist attractions of Lisbon. Especially during summer time, the line to access the top of the elevator can be really long but believe us, the waiting time is totally worth it.
At the top of the lift, you will have access to a privileged panoramic view of the Lisbon's Historic Center. The top of Parque Eduardo VII which ends up on the Marquês de Pombal square, the historic Castle of São Jorge, the blue and brightness of the Tagus river are part of a stunning view that only Elevador de Santa Justa can provide.
2 - Largo do Carmo
The atmosphere of Largo do Carmo is simply unique. Historic colorful buildings totally renovated, the beautiful trees that provide freshness to the square, the amazing convent ruins, all combined create this magical place.
But Largo do Carmo is not just one more nice place where you can enjoy a fresh drink and have insightful conversations. This square "briefs freedom" and is an irreplaceable part of the Lisbon's History.
Largo do Carmo had a key role during the Portuguese revolution on April 25, 1974. It was there where, after almost 50 years, the Estado Novo (New Regime) officially came to an end and the Portuguese people won their freedom.
Today, this square is a mandatory stop for everyone who wishes to live an learn about the Lisbon's history.
3 - Convento do Carmo
Remember the "amazing convent ruins" we mentioned before? That's true, we were talking about Convento do Carmo, a former Roman Catholic convent founded in 1389 by D. Nuno Álvares Pereira.
The Carmo Convent, a perfect representation of the Gothic style typical for the mendicant religious orders, is located on a hill in the Chiado neighborhood, very close to the Santa Justa Lift, which offers an incredible view over the Castle of São Jorge.
Nowadays, the convent represents the glory and grandiosity of the Portuguese past (despite the damage suffered in 1755 due to an earthquake that destroyed a great part of the capital) and is used as an archaeological museum presenting not only Portuguese expositions but from all over the world.
4 - Arco da Rua Augusta
Rua Augusta is one of the most energetic and charismatic streets of Lisbon. Unlike other famous Lisbon's streets that gain their fame trough luxury shops or quality restaurants, Rua Augusta has a particularity that delights any person that passes by the famous Arco da Rua Augusta.
This famous monument is a majestic arch that symbolizes the rebirth of a new Lisbon, right after the tragedy of the earthquake (mostly by the hands of Marquês de Pombal, the biggest responsible to rebuild the city and design it as we know today).
Open to the public since 2013, it offers from the top a privileged view of the river and Baixa.
5 - A Ginjinha
Lisbon is not only about monuments or beautiful avenues. Gastronomy plays a huge role when comes to Lisbon's culture and life. Following this, there is a place that demands your attention and a future visit.
"A Ginjinha" is the house of the famous cherry liquor that is loved by everyone who tastes it. This tiny little store that keeps the style and tradition since their foundation is located in Largo de São Domingos, Rossio, where you can enjoy this delicious drink outside.
6 - Praça do Comércio
Constructed in 1775 after the earthquake, the Praça do Comércio (commercial square when translated into English) is the largest and most emblematic plaza of Lisbon.
As its own name indicates, the square was one of the most important places of commerce. Because of its privileged location, just near the Tagus river, was traditionally used by the merchants to trade wares from all over the world.
Almost three hundred after, Praça do Comércio continues to receiving people from different countries, not to trade but to enjoy the beauty and the colors of their buildings, the delicious food that their restaurants have to offer and the freshness of the river when enjoying the Portuguese sun.
7 - Praça D. Pedro IV
Last but definitely not least comes Praça D. Pedro IV, usually called Praça do Rossio, located in the heart of Lisbon's downtown.
For centuries that Praça do Rossio has been an epicenter of culture. Well known for its traditional and historic cafés, was the preferred location of many writers, philosophers, artists to share their ideas and develop their work.
The square is full of mandatory places to see and visit including the famous National Theater D. Maria II, the Rossio Train Station considered by many the most beautiful train in the world (its monumental neo-Manueline façade is just amazing), the St. Dominic’s Church and Café Nicola, a historic café founded in 1929.
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