It is technically called Praça do Comércio, but it is better known as Terreiro do Paço, it is the most imposing square in Lisbon and in the country. Situated on the Tagus River, Terreiro do Paço seems to want to envy the beauty of the river, with its mesmerizing size and color.
This is one of the largest squares in Europe, with about 36000m² (180m x 200m).
Its name “Terreiro do Paço” comes from other times, when it housed in the western wing, since the 16th century, the Palace of Kings of Portugal, and its magnificent Library of over 70,000 volumes. Hopelessly destroyed in the 1755 earthquake, this square became the fundamental element of the plan of the Marquis de Pombal, Minister of King D. José I, who chose to privilege and value the commercial, financial and bourgeois class that greatly contributed to the reconstruction of Lisbon. post-earthquake, hence the name of “Commerce Square”.
For centuries Praça do Comércio was the great reception hall of Lisbon for those who came by boat, enjoying a unique landscape of Rio and the city. Here is the landing pier of Kings and Heads of State visiting the country, It is also visible the marble staircase of the Cais das Colunas that leaves the Tagus River towards Praça do Comércio.
The square, already outlined by the plan of the Marquis of Pombal, is characterized by its arched buildings, painted when the Republic was established in republican pink, recently returning to its original yellow color, home to government departments and some restaurants, here is the oldest cafe-restaurant in Lisbon: "Martinho da Arcada".
In the geometric center of the square, facing the river, is the equestrian statue of D. José I, mounted on his Gentil horse, a bronze work by the famous sculptor Machado de Castro, erected in 1775.
On the north side of the square is the Augusta Street Triumphal Arch, the majestic entrance to the Baixa by the graceful Rua do Ouro, one of Lisbon's main pedestrian shopping areas. The arch contains several plumb figures of the country (Vasco da Gama, Marquês de Pombal, Nuno Álvares Pereira, among others) flanked by the representations of the Tagus and Douro rivers, with references to the great values and virtues of the country, facing the Tagus, as if to open the way to the universal meaning of the world.