Rossio Square is the popular name of the Pedro IV Square. It is located in the Pombaline Downtown of Lisbon and has been one of its main squares since the Middle Ages. It has been the setting of popular revolts and celebrations, bullfights and executions, and is now a preferred meeting place of Lisbon natives and tourists alike.

The Rossio became an important place in the city during the 13th and 14th centuries, when the population of the city expanded to the lower area surrounding the Lisbon Castle hill. The name rossio is roughly equivalent to the word 'commons' in English, and refers to a commonly owned terrain. Around 1450, the Palace of Estaus, destined to house foreign dignitaries and noblemen visiting Lisbon, was built on the north side of the square. After the Inquisition was installed in Lisbon, the Palace of Estaus became its seat, and the Rossio was frequently used as setting for public executions.

In 1492, King John II ordered the building of one of the most important civil and charitative infrastructures in old Lisbon, the All-Saints Royal Hospital. The Hospital was finished in 1504, during the reign of King Manuel I, and occupied the whole eastern side of the square. Old pictures show the façade of the Hospital to consist of a long building with an arched gallery. The portal to the chapel of the Hospital, facing the Rossio, had a magnificent façade in manueline style.

Near the northeastern corner of the square, actually in the neighbouring St Domingo Square, is located the Palace of the Almadas, recognisable by its early 18th century red façade. In 1640, this Palace was the meeting point of Portuguese noblemen who conspired against Spain and led to the independence of Portugal from Spanish rule. The building is also called the Palace of the Independence for this reason. The Convent of St Domingo was established in the 13th century by the Rossio. Their church was greatly damaged by the 1755 earthquake and was rebuilt in baroque style. Its façade dominates the small St Domingo square.

1755 earthquake and rebuilding

Most buildings around the Rossio date from the reconstruction of the Pombaline Downtown carried out after the great 1755 Lisbon earthquake, which levelled most structures in the area, including the magnificent All-Saints Hospital. Only the Palace of the Independence survived the catastrophic earthquake. The rebuilding of the Rossio was undertaken in the second half of the 18th century by architects Eugénio dos Santos and Carlos Mardel, responsible for the typical Pombaline appearance of the buildings around the square.

From the Pombaline reconstruction dates the Bandeira Arch, a building at the south side of the square with a baroque pediment and a big arch that communicates the Rossio with the Sapateiros Street.

After a fire in 1836, the old Inquisition Palace was destroyed. Thanks to the efforts of writer Almeida Garrett, it was decided to build a theatre in its place. The Teatro Nacional D. Maria II, built in the 1840s, was designed by the Italian Fortunato Lodi in neoclassical style. A statue of the renaissance Portuguese playwright Gil Vicente is located over the pediment of the theatre. Ironically, some of Gil Vicente's plays had been censured by the Inquisition back in the 16th century.

In the 19th century the Rossio was paved with typical Portuguese mosaic and was adorned with bronze fountains imported from France. The Column of Pedro IV was erected in 1874. At this time the square received its current official name, never accepted by the people.

Between 1886 and 1887 another important landmark was built in the square: the Rossio Train Station (Estação de Caminhos de Ferro do Rossio). The Station was built by architect José Luís Monteiro and was an important addition to the infrastructure of the city. Its beautiful neo-manueline façade dominates the northwest side of the square.

Significance

The Rossio has been a meeting place for people of Lisbon for centuries. Some of the cafés and shops of the square date from the 18th century, like the Café Nicola, where poet Manuel Maria Barbosa du Bocage used to meet friends. Other traditional shops include the Pastelaria Suíça and the Ginjinha, where the typical Lisbon spirit can be tasted. The building of the Maria II Theatre and the Public Gardens to the north of the square only made the area more attended by Lisbon high society in the 19th century. Nowadays it is constantly populated by Lisboners and tourists.

References:

Comments

Your name



User Reviews

Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Roman Walls of Lugo

Roman Walls of Lugo are an exceptional architectural, archaeological and constructive legacy of Roman engineering, dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. The Walls are built of internal and external stone facings of slate with some granite, with a core filling of a conglomerate of slate slabs and worked stone pieces from Roman buildings, interlocked with lime mortar.

Their total length of 2117 m in the shape of an oblong rectangle occupies an area of 1.68 ha. Their height varies between 8 and 10 m, with a width of 4.2 m, reaching 7 m in some specific points. The walls still contain 85 external towers, 10 gates (five of which are original and five that were opened in modern times), four staircases and two ramps providing access to the walkway along the top of the walls, one of which is internal and the other external. Each tower contained access stairs leading from the intervallum to the wall walk of town wall, of which a total of 21 have been discovered to date.

The defences of Lugo are the most complete and best preserved example of Roman military architecture in the Western Roman Empire.

Despite the renovation work carried out, the walls conserve their original layout and the construction features associated with their defensive purpose, with walls, battlements, towers, fortifications, both modern and original gates and stairways, and a moat.

Since they were built, the walls have defined the layout and growth of the city, which was declared a Historical-Artistic Ensemble in 1973, forming a part of it and becoming an emblematic structure that can be freely accessed to walk along. The local inhabitants and visitors alike have used them as an area for enjoyment and as a part of urban life for centuries.

The fortifications were added to UNESCO"s World Heritage List in late 2000 and are a popular tourist attraction.