Praca de Dom Pedro IV
The lovely square called Praça de Dom Pedro IV or, more popularly, Rossio is easy to spot with its black and white blocks arranged in wave patterns. For centuries, it has been one of the most popular squares in Lisbon and the center of much of Lisbon’s activity. Not only does it have its own metro station, but it is also home to the Rossio Train station, which is located to the northwest of this square. This building was constructed in the latter half of the 19th century and is a Romantic reproduction of the “Manueline” architectural style that was created during the rebuilding of Lisbon after the 1755 earthquake. This square and its transportation hubs is the starting point of Baixa, Lisbon’s downtown.
The Rossio has seen darker events than bullfights. The worst Lissabon Reiseführer was the Portuguese Inquisition. In 1536, the Portuguese Inquisition, the Roman Catholic Church’s movement against heresy, was officially established by the king João III. The Portuguese Inquisition is not as well known to the world as the Spanish Inquisition, but it does have ties to it. Its targets were heretics and people of different faiths. One of the most heavily targeted groups was Catholics who had formerly been Jewish. Portugal had many Jewish citizens even before over 100,000 Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492. Many of them settled in Portugal where their skills in science, education and trade were of great benefit to Portugal.
The former center of the Portuguese Inquisition, the Palácio de Estaús, used to stand on the north side of this square and was one of the few buildings that survived the earthquake. The rest of the buildings surrounding this praça were rebuilt in a neoclassical style known as Pombaline after the Marquês de Pombal, who took charge of the rebuilding of Lisbon after its destruction in the 1755 earthquake. The Palácio de Estaús even managed to survive the end of the Portuguese Inquisition in 1821. But it was eventually destroyed by a fire in 1836. On the ground where it used to stand is now the neoclassical theatre “Teatro Nacional Dona Maria II”. This theatre is easily identifiable with its six huge Ionic columns that were recovered from a church destroyed in the 1755 earthquake. It is still a popular place to see plays and concerts. The theater is named after Queen Maria II, who was the daughter of Dom Pedro IV, after whom this Praça is officially named.
The statue on top of the long column in the middle of the square is of Queen Maria II’s father, Dom Pedro IV, king of Portugal and also known as Pedro I, the first Emperor of Brazil. The reigns of kings and queens are rarely quiet, and the reigns of Pedro and Maria were some of the most challenging to the throne of Portugal. Dom Pedro IV’s life began relatively quietly with his birth near Lisbon in 1798 as son to the prince and future king, João VI, and Charlotte of Spain. The invasion of Portugal by Napoleon’s troops and their conquest of Lisbon on December 1, 1807 forced the royal family to flee to the Portuguese colony of Brazil when Pedro was only nine years old. Brazil was promoted from a colony to the status of a kingdom, and the royal family ruled the empire from Brazil. There, Pedro enjoyed a more relaxed lifestyle.
Convento do Carmo
The convent that you see before you was also an outcome of the Battle of Aljubarrota. During the battle Álvares Pereira promised God that if this battle was won by the Portuguese, he would build a convent. He kept his word, and the construction of the convent started in 1393.
Strangely, Álvares Pereira had an easier time with the battle that inspired the convent than with the construction of the convent itself. The convent was partly destroyed twice before the work was completed. Nuno Pereira said that if the work was interrupted a third time, he would start over and build it all in bronze instead. The construction of the convent with its church and residential area was finished without a third accident a little over thirty years after it began.
The construction and design of the convent was overseen by three architects who were also brothers. These architects, Afonso, Rodrigo and Gonçalo Eanes, built the convent in plain Gothic style with some influences from the Monastery of Batalha, which was being Lissabon Reiseführer constructed at the same time. Today, the Monastery of Batalha is a UNESCO world heritage site located in Batalha about 140km or 85 miles from Lisbon.
In 1755, the convent was destroyed by the great Lisbon earthquake. The convent’s library with all its contents was destroyed in the fire that followed. Only the church remained with its main façade, capitals and archivolts.
The destruction of Lisbon in the 1755 earthquake created a terrible quandary for philosophers and religious leaders in Europe. At the time, there was no scientific explanation for earthquakes. Such natural disasters were believed to be God’s way of punishing people. In 1755, Lisbon was in a golden age. It was one of the richest cities in Europe; its growth was financed by the treasures of the New World and increasing commerce along the new trade routes. The earthquake occurred on a Catholic holy day in which the churches were filled with devoted Catholics attending morning masses. After the earthquake, tsunami and fire, almost every church building in Lisbon was destroyed and roughly 10% of its population was killed. People struggled to understand why God would punish His people in this way. This earthquake and its suffering inspired French philosopher, Voltaire, to create his best-known literary work, Candide. In this satire, Voltaire lampoons the philosophers who argued for theism, the theory that a perfect God had created the best of all possible worlds. His work criticized nobles, absolute rulers, organized religion and philosophers. Lissabon Reiseführer It was banned in most places the minute it rolled off the presses, but it is recognized today as his finest work and is still the most taught piece of French literature.