Rossio (officially Praça Dom Pedro IV) – at the northern end of the Baixa grid – is Lisbon’s oldest and busiest square and its popular cafés are a good spot for tourists to find their feet. The square’s grandest building is the Teatro Nacional de Dona Maria II, built in the 1840s. Here, prior to the earthquake, stood the Inquisitional Palace, in front of which public hangings, autos-da-fé (ritual burnings of heretics) and even bullfights used to take place. The nineteenth-century statue atop the central column is of Dom Pedro IV (after whom the square is officially named), though curiously it’s a bargain adaptation: cast originally as Maximilian of Mexico, it just happened to be in Lisbon en route from France when news came through of Maximilian’s assassination.
The Igreja de São Domingos, immediately to the east in Largo São Domingos, was the church where the Inquisition read out its sentences. It was gutted by a fire in the 1950s, but has now been fully restored. The road and square outside the church, at the bottom of Rua das Portas de Santo Antão, is a popular meeting place for the local African population, while Lisbon’s workers frequent the various ginginha bars, which specialize in lethal measures of cherry brandy. South, past the church, the street runs into Praça da Figueira, the square adjacent to Rossio. It contains some of the main city bus and tram stops and, like Rossio, is centred on a fountain and lined with shops.Read More