Guide to Praça do Comércio: History, Attractions and More

The majestic Praça do Comércio, lined with bars, restaurants, cafés, and shops, is the main square of the city and a National Monument of Portugal.

Nestled between the famous Rua Augusta Arch and the port of Lisbon, the iconic riverside square is like a gateway to the city, welcoming visitors right on the waterfront. This must-see area is remarkable not only for its grandeur, but also for its historical significance.

In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know before your visit, including the attractions, history and more.

Let’s dive in!

Things to do at Praça do Comércio

Covering 30,600 square meters, Praça do Comércio is one of the largest and most beautiful squares in Europe.

It is located on the south side of the Tagus River, on the site where the old Royal Palace stood for over two centuries before it was destroyed by the great earthquake of 1755.

See here the top attractions of Praça do Comércio:

Rua Augusta Arch in Lisbon

1. Rua Augusta Arch

Reaching majestically into the sky, the Rua Augusta arch is one of the first highlights that will catch your eye. The triumphal arch that marks the beginning of the Rua Augusta shopping street stands as a reminder of the reconstruction of the city after the devastating series of disasters of 1755. Today, it is also a very popular photo motif.

Adorned with national emblems, symbolic motifs and statues of important Portuguese personalities such as Vasco da Gama, the structure is quite impressive from the outside. However, you can also climb the arch for a bird's eye view of Praça do Comércio and the surrounding area. From the viewing platform, you can admire the busy square, the river, the Calçada Portuguesa cobblestone pavement, and the lively streets that were symmetrically rebuilt after the earthquake.  

Arcaded Buildings in Praça do Comércio Lisbon

2. Arcaded Buildings 

On both sides of Rua Augusta, magnificent 18th-century arcades and lemon-yellow facades attract attention.

Some of the arcaded buildings still house government offices, but most of them have now been converted into pricey restaurants, cafés and bars with outdoor seating. This makes the square a wonderful place to relax, have a refreshing drink and watch the hustle and bustle. It gets especially lively in the evening, when tourists and locals fill the square.

Noteworthy is Lisbon’s oldest café, Martinho da Arcada, which dates back to 1782 and was a popular meeting place for writers and intellectuals.

→ Portugal is a country for cafe lovers! Be sure to read our list of the best cafes in Lisbon when planning where you want to go to have breakfast or grab a coffee.

Equestrian Statue in Praça do Comercio in Lisbon

3. Equestrian Statue

Another point of interest is the equestrian statue in the center of Praça do Comércio, facing the river.

The monument, sculpted by Machado de Castro, depicts King José I of Portugal, who ordered the reconstruction of the city after the earthquake and redeveloped the city. He sits on his horse, Gentil. The pedestal also features an elephant, representing the royal power of the Portuguese Empire abroad.

Lisbon Story Centre Museum in Lisbon

4. Museums

There are a number of museums on Praça do Comércio. Of particular note is the Lisbon Story Centre, an interactive museum ideal for first-time visitors to Lisbon, as it transports you on a journey through the city's turbulent history.

Another museum is the Beer Museum (Museu da Cerveja on the east side of the square), dedicated to beer, with an emphasis on how beer is made in Portugal.

  • There are a handful of other museums and cultural sites within walking distance. To find the best match for your interest consult with our list of the 10 best museums in Lisbon
Cais das Colunas in Lisbon

5. Cais das Colunas 

A beautiful spot to slow down and watch the sunset in the evening can be found on the waterfront side of Praça do Comércio.

The small pier with marble steps and columns that you can see there is called Cais das Colunas and was once the place where kings, queens, celebrities and heads of state arrived when they came by ship.

It’s often underwater now, but when the weather is nice, the pier is a wonderful place to sit down, do some people watching, and enjoy fabulous views of the Tagus River.

Our Tip: Just a few minutes from the square is the Ribeira das Naus kiosk. With its prime location on the Tagus River, as well as lounge chairs, umbrellas, and of course refreshing drinks and snacks, this kiosk is the perfect place to take in the views of Lisbon. It's also one of the locations included in YourMobileGuide's Lisbon Kiosk audio-guide tour, available to download on your smartphone.

6. Lisboa Welcome Center

On the western side of the square, you can find the Lisboa Welcome Center. The city’s main tourist office provides visitors to Lisbon with helpful information.  

There is also a souvenir shop selling items made in Portugal, including traditional azelujo tiles, handicrafts, ceramics, mugs, soaps, jewelry, clothes, and many more.

  • Not sure what to purchase as a souvenir when you visit Lisbon? Learn all about the country and its products in the Guide to Shopping in Lisbon. 

7. Events

A popular event at Praça do Comércio is the light show projected onto the arch of Rua da Augusta in the summer evenings by the Lisboa Story Centre.

One of the most important venues in Lisbon is the outstanding Pátio da Galé event space, located in one of the arcade buildings on Praça do Comércio. Among other events, the Lisbon Fashion Week and the Lisbon Fish Festival are held here every year. The venue is also suitable for meetings, conferences, weddings and other private events.

Booking an event in Lisbon is easy when you coordinate with our team. Send us a message and allow us to help you plan the perfect wedding, gathering, party, conference or retreat in Portugal!

8. Walking Tour

Located in the very heart of Lisbon, the Praça do Comércio is an ideal starting point for exploring this timeless city.

We recommend the self-guided walking tour of our partner YourMobileGuide, which starts at this square and leads you to the Best of Lisbon City Center.

How to Get to Praça do Comércio

How to Get to Praça do Comércio?

Praça do Comércio is located in the old town of Lisbon, in the Baixa neighborhood. Therefore, it is easily accessible from any part of the city.

The blue metro line has a stop at Praça do Comércio, called "Terreiro do Paço". In addition, the iconic tram line 28E stops at the square.

Frequently Asked Questions about Praça do Comércio

Where is Praça do Comércio?

Praça do Comércio is located in the old town of Lisbon, in the Baixa neighborhood. It is nestled between the famous Rua Augusta Arch and the port.

How do I get to Praça do Comércio?

With its location in the heart of Lisbon, Praça do Comércio is easily accessible from any part of the city.  The blue metro line has a stop at Praça do Comércio, called "Terreiro do Paço". The iconic tram line 28E also stops at this square.

Why is Praça do Comércio called Terreiro do Paço?

Praça do Comércio was the site of the former royal palace, Paço da Ribeira, which is why many locals call it Terreiro do Paço (Palace Yard).

What can I do at Praça do Comércio?

The grand Praça do Comércio is lined with bars, restaurants, cafes, museums and shops. You can admire the grandeur of the vast square that was once the site of the former royal palace. The many cafes, bars and restaurants with outdoor seating are a great place to relax and watch the hustle and bustle of the square. Another good place to slow down and watch the sunset is the small pier Cais das Colunas.

However, the highlight of  Praça do Comércio is the Equestrian Statue of King José I in the middle of the square and the Rua Augusta arch, which marks the beginning of the Rua Augusta street. Other attractions include the Lisboa Story Centre and the Beer Museum.

Historical Facts & Info about Praça do Comércio

Praça do Comércio was the site of the former royal palace, Paço da Ribeira, and is still referred to by locals as Terreiro do Paço (Palace Yard). After the great earthquake of 1755 and the subsequent tsunami and fire, the royal palace was completely destroyed and the square had to be completely rebuilt.

Under the Portuguese King José I, the plaza was redesigned as a government quarter to regulate the port and customs. This led to the name Praça do Comércio, which means trade square.

In 1908, another tragic event occurred in the square, the assassination of to King Carlos I. The king and his heir, Luís Filipe, were both shot by anarchists demanding a republican government.  This led to the fall of the monarchy in Portugal. On the west side of the square, there is a plaque commemorating the King.

In the 1980s, the square was used as a car park. Today, it is one of the most important squares in Lisbon and a popular tourist attraction.

Contact & Map

  • Address: Praça do Comércio MB, 1100-148 Lisboa, Portugal
  • Public Transport: Metro blue line, Terreiro do Paço stop

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