Located at the heart of Baixa, the historic downtown area of Lisbon, Commerce Square has been a central gathering place for centuries and continues to be a vibrant hub of activity today.
The square was originally built in 1755 as part of the Pombaline reconstruction project following the devastating earthquake that shook Lisbon in 1755. The project was initiated by Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, Marquis de Pombal, who wanted to rebuild Lisbon’s city centre with modern architecture and efficient urban planning. At its centre he placed Commerce Square as an open public space surrounded by important buildings such as banks, government offices and shops.
Today Commerce Square remains much like it did during its 18th century heyday when it was used for market days or special events such as bullfights or concerts. Its cobblestone pavements are lined with stately 19th-century buildings including two identical twin palaces on either side – Palácio do Comércio (Palace of Commerce) which houses a museum dedicated to Portuguese commerce; Palácio da Independência (Palace of Independence), now home to Banco Espírito Santo; and various other commercial establishments including cafés, restaurants, and souvenir stores.