Rossio Square – Praça Dom Pedro IV – What you need to know

Rossio SquarePraça Dom Pedro IV – here is what you need to know about Lisbon’s most central square.

The official, but not really accepted name of the square is Praça Dom Pedro IV. Pedro IV was the Emperor of Brazil from 1822-1831, and King of Portugal in 1826. Mostly though, people refer to the square as “Rossio,” which roughly means “the Commons.”

The square is located in downtown Lisbon in the Baixa neighborhood.

Why is Rossio Square important?

It has been one of Portugal’s main squares since the Middle Ages. The plaza has seen bullfights, executions, revollts, festivals, and long been a popular spot for meeting friends and people-watching.

Portuguese writer Eça de Queiroz lived in one of the buildings on the plaza, and it was there that he began his literary career.

We could debate whether Rossio Square or the nearby Praça do Comércio is the most important square in Lisbon. It doesn’t matter though. They are both lively and filled with history, and you will enjoy both squares when you are in Lisbon.

What will you find in Rossio Square?

Undulating black and white tiles (Calçcada Portuguesa) that mimic waves were laid in Lisbon's Rossio Square (PraçaDom Pedro IV) in the 19th century.
Calçada Portuguesa

Rossio Square (Praça Dom Pedro IV) is famous for the black and white cobblestones (Calçada Portuguesa) shaped like waves. The cobblestones were installed here in the 19th century, and the pattern has been replicated and can also be found in Rio de Janeiro and other former Portuguese colonies.

Column of Dom Pedro IV in Lisbon's Rossio Square (Praça Dom Pedro IV)
Column of Dom Pedro IV

At the center of the square is the Column of Dom Pedro IV.

At the base of the 27-meter (89-foot tall) column are four female figures, representing Justice, Wisdom, Strength, and Moderation. Many people say the bronze sculpture at the top of the column was actually a likeness of Mexico’s Emperor Maximilian, and that Lisbon bought the statue at a discount when Maxmillian passed away.

French fountain at the southern end of Rossio Square.  In the top right of the picture you can see the ruins of the Igreja do Carmo Church, damaged in the 1755 earthquake
Fountain at the southern end of Rossio Square. In the top right of the photo, you can see the ruins of the Igreja do Carmo Church, damaged in the 1755 earthquake

There are baroque French fountains on both the north and south ends of the square. They were placed on the site of what had been wells in 1889.

The fountain at the north end of Lisbon's Rossio Square (Praça Dom Pedro).  Beyond that, the Dona Maria National Theatre
The fountain at the north end of Lisbon’s Rossio Square (Praça Dom Pedro). Beyond that, the Dona Maria National Theatre

Surrounding the square today you will find the Doña Maria II National Theatre. The Theatre Replaced the ruined Estaus Palace in 1842. On top of the theatre’s facade, there is a monument to playwright Gil Vicente – the father of Portuguese theatre, whose works were banned during the Portuguese Inquisition.

The 200-year-old facade of Lisbon's Cafe Nicola faces Rossio Square (Praça Dom Pedro IV)

On the western side of Rossio Square is Café Nicola – a 200-year-old café with an art deco facade is a longtime favorite meeting spot for many of Lisbon’s artists, politicans, and writers.

The double-arches of the Rossio Train Station in Lisbon, Portugal
Rossio Train Station

Rossio Railway Station- This train station with a striking Neomanueline entrance has been open since 1887. The facade of the building has eight large doors, 18 windows, and a large decorative clock. This is the place if you would like to take the train to Sintra. How to plan a day trip or overnight trip to Sintra from Lisbon

Entrance to the Rossio Metro Station at Rossio Square (Praça Dom Pedro IV), Lisbon
Entrance to the Rossio Metro Station

The Rossio metro station lies under Rossio square. This station on the green line offers access to all of Lisbon’s metro lines. This is the transportation hub for the Carris transportation company. To learn more about Lisbon’s subway system, read my Lisbon Metro: A helpful guide to the Lisbon subway

Buskers and vendors, and people passing time with friends and family.

Just south of Rossio lies Rua Augusta, a pedestrian boulevard famous for its shopping and many restaurants. At the southern end of the street, there is the Rua Augusta Arch (you can go to the top), and beyond that lie Praça do Comércio – one of the largest squares in Europe, and the Tejo River.

How to get to Rossio Square |Praça Dom Pedro IV

Metro Green Line

Buses 44, 708, 711, 714, 744, 732, 736, 758, 744, 759, stop at Rossio Square

GPS Coordinates: 38.71411039504996, -9.139061731077234

Also near Rossio Square

Rua das Portas de Santo Antão

North of Rossio Square, there are plenty of restaurants on this street specializing in seafood, and they offer their menus in multiple languages.

You can also find an official Benfica Fan Store (buy tickets there) How to go to a Benfica game as well as one of the oldest ginginha bars in the city. Your questions about Ginjinha answered here

Igreja de São Domingos

The scarred interior of Lisbon's Igreja de São Domingos Church matches its history
The scarred interior of the Igreja de São Domingos Church matches its history

Just northeast of Rossio Square, Igreja de São Domingos (Church of St. Dominic) has seen royal weddings and baptisms, and mostly survived the Lisbon earthquake, only to be nearly destroyed by fire. It has played a role in the Portuguese Inquisition and the massacre15E and 25E of Lisbon’s Jewish population. Today the church is a center for Lisbon’s African communities.

São Domingos Church in Lisbon

Praça da Figueira

A smaller square on the eastern side of Rossio Square, the eastern exit of the Rossio Metro Station exits onto the plaza. Here you can find a stop for bus 737 (goes to the castle).

Also bus 714 (goes to the historic Belém neighborhood. Trams 15E and 25E also leave from here and go to Belém as well. There is an artisanal farmer’s market here on the last weekend of each month. For more information on Praça da Figueira, read my article, Praça da Figueira

Rossio Train Station

Known for its multiple arched doorways, the famous facade was designed by Jose Luis Monteiro. From here you can catch a train to Sintra.

Avenida da Liberdade

This tree-lined boulevard just north of Rossio Square stretches to Parque Eduardo VII Parque Eduardo VII | Lisbon’s Central Park – What you should know and Praça Marquês de Pombal. Along the way, you will find beautiful black-and-white Portuguese sidewalks, gardens and fountains, mansions and embassies, kiosks, and over 100 high-end shops such as Rolex, Gucci, and Armani.

Elevador de Santa Justa

Praça Dom Pedroo IV (Rossio) seen from the Santa Justa Lift viewing platform
Praça Dom Pedroo IV (Rossio) seen from the Santa Justa Lift viewing platform

This wrought-iron elevator, the Santa Justa Lift, has some similarities to the Eifel Tower, as the architect who completed the project in 1902 was a student of Gustave Eifel. The elevator takes people from the Baixa neighborhood up to the Carmo Convent Ruins on the hilltop. From there, you can easily access the Chiado and Bairro Alto neighborhoods. You can also enjoy the elevator’s viewing deck and take in romantic views of Rossio Square, the castle, the Baixa neighborhood, and the river.

Elevador de Santa Justa | Everything you need to know

Carmo Convent Ruins

The non-existant cieling of the Igreja do Carmo Church, destroyed by the 1755 earthquake
Igreja do Carmo Church ruins

The Convent of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Convento do Carmo) was built between 1389 and 1423. The building was severely damaged by the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake that destroyed much of the city.

The roof of the church caved in, and leaders decided to leave the walls and the beautiful arch structure standing as a monument to the disaster. The church is a surprisingly beautiful site and should not be missed. The 5€ admission fee also allows you to tour the adjacent Carmo Archaeological Museum.

Lisbon’s Convento do Carmo Ruins | Everything You Need to Know

Rua Augusta Arch

This great Arch de Triumph is the gateway to Lisbon from the Tejo River. On one side is the river and Praça do Comércio – the Commercial Square. On the other is the grand pedestrian shopping street – Rua Augusta with its many restaurants and street performers. Make sure you go to the top of the Arch for spectacular views.

What is the story behind Lisbon’s Rua Augusta Arch?

Praça do Comércio

Statue of Dom José I atop his horse in Lisbon's Praça do Comércio.  It is dusk and the building in the background is glowing in light.
Praça do Comércio

Prior to the 1755 Earthquake, the grand Commercial Square was the site of the royal palace. Since then, it has seen the assassination of one of the last kings of Portugal, a visit from Queen Elizabeth, and multiple large events such as Pride Festivals, World Cup parties, and New Years’ Eve celebrations. On a daily basis, it is a great spot for a meal, a wine tasting, or a quick beer or coffee.

Praça do Comércio – Everything you need to know

Lisbon Cathedral

Once the Christians took the land back from the Moors, they immediately started building a church on the site of the central mosque. The fortress-like cathedral survived the 1755 earthquake with minimal damage and is one of the oldest buildings in the city.

Lisbon Cathedral | All you need to know before you go

Castelo de São Jorge

the crenellated towers and walls of Lisbon's São Jorge Castle
Castelo de São Jorge

The hilltop to the east of Rossio square was settled prior to the 5th Century. Muslim Moors occupied it in the 11th Century, and then Afonso Henriques and his Christian knights took the castle back from the Moors.

Shortly after, he became the first King of Portugal, and Lisbon became its capital. Visit the castle and take in some of the best views of the city. In and around Castelo de São Jorge – Lisbon’s castle

From there, walk downhill through the scenic Alfama neighborhood.

Ginjinha shops

Ginjinha is a local spirit made with aguardiente and cherries. Two of the oldest bars in the city are just north of Rossio Square and sell the liquor for 1.25 per shot glass. Your questions about Ginjinha answered here

Hotels near Rossio Square

This is the perfect neighborhood to stay in, as it is the most central part of Lisbon. Furthermore, it is at sea level, and it is the flattest part of the city. The area is a hub for all types of public transportation.

Some of the hotels in this area (none mentioned in this article) are in older, multi-story buildings that do not have elevators. Check with your hotel in advance of booking.

Avenida Palace Hotel

Few hotels are more Lisbon than this classic five-star lodge adjacent to the Rossio Train Station.

With Portugal remaining neutral during the wars, this hotel was known as the headquarters for spies from several countries, and it inspired Ian Flemming.

Classically decorated rooms of this luxury hotel may have views of Rossio Square, the castle, Restauradores Square, Avenida da Liberdade, or the hotel courtyard.

Valet parking is available. A single room, soundproof, with a full bed, and air-conditioning, with breakfast included starts at $225 per night.

Hotel Metropole

A boutique hotel with Art Nouveau decor, located on Rossio Square, some of the rooms have balconies facing the Convento do Carmo ruins.

Double rooms with a full bed, air-conditioning, and breakfast can be had for as low as $147 per night.

Hotel Mundial

Located around the corner at Praça Martim Moniz (green line metro station) where Tram 28E and Tram 12E start their routes, this hotel is known for its excellent rooftop bar. Best rooftop bars in Lisbon

Double or twin rooms, 161 sq. ft. with air-conditioning, breakfast included start at $191 per night.

International Design Hotel

Located on the south side of Rossio Square, an air-conditioned, soundproof room with a double bed or two twins can go for as low as $119 per night.

Lisbon Destination Hostel

This unique hostel has the perfect location. It is located on the top floor of the Rossio Train Station, and the building is soundproof!

Rooms have ceiling fans, air-conditioning, and lockers. Laundry facilities are available. There is a kitchen, a cafe, a pool table, and a bar.

Lisbon Destination Hostel annually rates as one of the best medium-sized hostels in the world since 2014.

They offer 8 -bed female or mixed dorms, 10-bed mixed dorms, and a variety of private rooms with between one and four beds.

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