Baixa is the most central and renowned neighborhood in Lisbon. It was completely rebuilt by the Marquis of Pombal after the 11th November 1755, one of the world’s strongest recorded earthquakes devastated the district and, along with the massive tsunami, killed thousands. Baixa is packed with stores and restaurants and is always busy during the day.
This neighborhood houses the capital’s most emblematic squares and streets. The district starts in Restauradores Square (Praça dos Restauradores), continues up Avenida da Liberdade, through Praça Marquês de Pombal (Marquis of Pombal Square) and from this point forward is considered “Modern Lisbon”. Here you will discover some of Lisbon’s major attractions such as Terreiro do Paço square (or Terreiro do Paço), Rossio along with a variety of popular bars and restaurants.
This is one of the most beautiful squares in all Europe, opening southwards onto the huge Tagus estuary. Until the era of mass aviation, this was Lisbon´s great reception hall for visitors arriving by sea even better able to enjoy its beauty from their vantage points on slowly docking vessels.
It was at the dock here that the Kings and Heads of State would disembark when visiting Portugal.
Also known as Terreiro do Paço, Praça do Comércio square (Commercial Square in English) is one of Lisbon's more well-known attractions located next to the Tagus river. This marvel is a hot spot for tourists and locals alike. With its prime transports links to the rest of Lisbon and across the river, this is truly one of the finest attractions in Lisbon as it represents the power and influence Portugal once commanded.
Prior to the 1755 earthquake, it was called the Terreiro do Paço (Royal Yard). The Royal Palace had been sited on the western side of the square since the 16th century when king Manuel transferred the court down from the Castle of São Jorge (St. George).
Linking the Praça do Comércio and Rossio, the Rua Augusta is one of the main commercial centers of the Lisboa‘s Baixa.
Closed to the traffic and with a pleasant pedestrian walk, containing a diversified variety of shops suitable for all tastes, this street continues to conjugate tradition and art, frequently occupied by independent street artists, artisans and street sellers: this is where one can find everything, not forgetting the traditional flower pedlars, hot chestnuts sellers and street cafés with pleasant esplanades…
Rua Augusta is one of the main arteries of the city’s reconstruction after the big earthquake of 1755, with the majority of its buildings still intact and well preserved.The terrace at the top of the arch can be accessed through an elevator, offering 360º views over downtown.On Rua Augusta is also a small section of Roman baths beneath the Millenium BCP Bank. You may visit the bad and uncovered mosaics during renovation work on the bank for free, on a scheduled guided tour.
Looking more like a theater or a lavishly adorned palace with horseshoe arched doorways, this monumental Neo-Manueline building located between Rossio and Restauradores squares was built at a time when train stations were seen as temples of technology.
The Franco-Swiss author Blaise Cendrars called railway stations "the most beautiful churches in the world," and this station could be an example. It is one of the strangest architectural complexes housing a rail terminal in Europe, and today it is the local station for trains to Sintra.
Until now, the Rossio Train Station has lost mush of its infrastructural importance, but it remains a tourist curiosity and a notable sight in Lisbon. The building strikes by its facade designed as a mix of Romantic and Neo-Manueline elements, which is enough to say in order to realize the decorative complexity of the facade. On top of the lush decorations, there is also a clock placed in an elegant turret and two horseshoe-shaped portals that peg out the entrance.
This important archaeological nucleus of the city of Lisbon is located near the Rua Augusta Triumphal Arch, right in the historical center of the city, and occupies almost an entire block of Lisbon's Pombaline downtown. This unique archaeological site has revealed impressive structures and vestiges of civilizations that have inhabited the capital for millennia.
The Rua dos Correeiros Archaeological Nucleus, as it is known, is the responsibility of Millennium BCP, and allows the visitor to travel for about 2,500 years. History of Lisbon. This impressive archaeological estate reveals the occupation of the capital since the Roman presence - between the 1st century BC. and the 4th century AD - with it's fish canning and dressing industries, to the Paleo-Christian necropolis of the 5th century.
There are also many signs of Islamic occupation and subsequent medieval, 16th century and pre-Pombaline periods, as well as the Enlightenment architectural and urbanistic designs defended by the Marquis of Pombal.
The ruins of this gothic church are evocative reminders of the devastation left by the 1755 earthquake.
At the time of the earthquake, it was the largest church in Lisbon, but today the roofless nave open to the sky is all that remains of the arches and rubble that caved in on the congregation as they were attending mass.
In what used to be the main altar is now a small archaeological museum with an eclectic collection of tombs (the largest one is of King Ferdinand I), statuary, ceramics, and mosaics. Among the more ancient finds is a remnant from a Visigothic pillar and a Roman tomb carved with reliefs depicting the Muses. Other noteworthy pieces include shrunken heads, South American mummies, a jasper sculpture of the Virgin Mary, ancient tombstones, Visigothic artifacts, and coins dating back to the 13th century.
At the entrance of the museum is a stone engraved with gothic lettering, informing visitors that Pope Clement VII granted 40 days of indulgence to "any faithful Christian" that visits this church.
The Santa Justa Lift is an elevator in Lisbon and is the fastest way to get from the Baixa neighborhood to the Bairro Alto district. It was inaugurated as one of the city’s public transport systems on 10 July 1902 and was called Elevador do Carmo (Carmo Lift). Lisbon’s inhabitants were so excited to try this novelty that on the first day, 3,000 tickets were sold. The Carmo Lift was originally powered by steam until the 6 November 1907, when an electric motor was put in place.
The Elevador de Santa Justa stands 45m tall and the structure is built in the same style as the renowned French architect, Eiffel. The similarity between his designs and this Elevator is not accidental, as it was built by Raoul Mesnier de Ponsard, who was an admirer of Gustave Eiffel and applied the same techniques used in some of the funiculars in France of the time.
The Lift has a stunning observation deck at the top and offers magnificent views over Baixa. Since it was opened to the public, it has become one of the most popular viewpoints in Lisbon.
In the center of downtown Lisbon (on Rua da Conceição), visitors can walk beneath the street and visit ancient Roman tunnels. In 1771, while rebuilding the city after the great earthquake in 1755, they found what seemed to be a foundation-like structure that could be traced back to the Roman Empire era, estimated to be from the first half of the 1st Century AD.
The monument’s various stories, spanning many centuries, caught the interest of visitors and visiting the Rua da Prata Roman Galleries is a unique experience, as the opportunity rarely arises. Due to the logistics surrounding the opening up of the Galleries, along with the monument’s preservation, it can only be visited once or twice a year, during one or two weekends.
Every twenty minutes, a group of 25 people walks through the Galleries with a guide who tells its story and shares some fun facts about the monument, thus creating a happy and unforgettable memory. If you’re in Lisbon, you certainly won’t want to miss out on the opportunity to visit the Roman Galleries, right?
The Bertrand Chiado was recognized in 2011 by the Guinness Book as the oldest bookstore in the world still in operation. Having opened its doors in 1732, this store located at Rua Garrett in Chiado has several rooms and a few spots so the visitors can sit and read. By having a long operating time, the bookstore witnessed several important moments of the recent history of Portugal and has had the privilege to receive important visitors. In resume, the place is mandatory for anyone who passes by Chiado!
During these years, the Bertrand Chiado hosted important literary and political discussions. As we said, many famous writers and thinkers attended the bookstore, not only to read but also to socialize and participate in tertulias.Pedro Faure opened the first Bertrand shop at Rua Direito do Loreto. After the famous earthquake of 1755 in Lisbon, they had to relocate to near the Nossa Senhora das Necessidades Chapel, returning to the “Baixa de Lisboa” 18 years later, when it was rebuilt.
Situated in an ideal spot overlooking the historic Rossio Square, Café Nicola is arguably one of the best Cafés in Lisbon.
The origin of Nicola coffees dates back to 1779, to one of Lisbon's most emblematic establishments: Café Nicola. Famous for being Bocage’s home away from home (and the poet is also still there in the sculptural form), Nicola was also a meeting place for other writers, artists, and politicians, so much so that it gained the nickname the “Academy”.
When war was raging all across Europe, Lisbon was the first place of shelter for recent refugees from further east. In the 1930s and 40s foreigners flooded Rossio and its street cafés, and Nicola became the backdrop to espionage goings-on and the stories they gave rise to, even though secrecy was an intrinsic part of the work of spies.
Because Baixa is the most central neighbourhood in Lisbon, you can guarantee that there are many forms of transports links throughout this centralised location such as buses, trams and taxis. Another architectural masterpiece offering a convenient form of transportation is the Santa Justa Lift which is the fastest way to get from Baixa to the Bairro Alto district while offering amazing views of Baixa.
Like many neighbourhoods in Lisbon, Baixa offers plenty of shopping experiences from your local grocery store to designer and high street shops. Rua Agusta is Baixa’s main shopping street that leads to Comercio Square which offers a vareity of cafés, international shops and clothing shops.
There are frequent flights to and from Lisbon airport, the closest airport to Baixa. There are frequent transportation links from Lisbon airport to Baixa via taxis, buses and even a tram that passes through Rossio square which only takes approximately between 20 to 25 minutes commute.
Portugal, in general, is a warm climatised country and the neighbourhood of Baixa is no exception. Average temperatures range from 24°C in summer months with only the average coldest temperature only going down to 11°C in the winter months.
Baixa offers some of the most charming bars and restaurants in Lisbon, with its beautiful old buildings and extraordinary ambience. If you are looking to experience the local cuisine, Da Prata 52 offers some of the most delicious traditional dishes with a modern twist. After a long day walking around the hills of Lisbon, what better way to finish off the day than to relax and have a drink in Ginginha do Carmo bar. This small bar is located close to the Baixa metro station.
Although Baixa doesn’t offer a Portuguese beach experience, there are plenty within a short travelling distance from this old town. You can travel to Carcavelos beach which is less than a 30-minute commute from Baixa via public transport. Other beaches near Baixa include Estoril beach, Praia de Paço de Arcos and Praia da Torre - You will be spoilt for choice.
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