Praça de São João from Almeida (Portugal)

On the Portuguese side of the border there are even more fortifications than in Spain. Almeida is found in the north of Portugal. It is a star fort with 12 corners, Vauban style, built in 1641. The Spanish only entered here once in all their history, and then with the help of the French. The square is an irregular quadrilateral and is not positioned quite geometrically, just as the star is not perfect, but its role as a centre is obvious when related to the margins of the citadel.

Praça 8 de Maio from Coimbra, Portugal

Coimbra is famous for its university, and the monumental squares are located in the university area. The city also owns a small jewel, modest in size but convincing through its balanced proportions and its historical importance. It is Praça 8 de Maio, found in the city centre, in front of the monastery of Santa Cruz, while further on one finds the Camara Municipal. This small space manages to not let itself overly dominated by the height and splendor of the Manueline facade of the church where the first two kings of Portugal lie buried. The buildings on the other three sides are just as visible, likewise the central fountain. The contemporary redesigning of the square also contributes to this.

Praça do Municipio from Lisbon, Portugal

At a small distance from the monumental Praça do Municipio stands the municipal square, which hosts three important buildings: the Municipality, the Court of Appeals and the Naval Arsenal. It is a small, quiet square, with other rhythms in comparison to Praça do Comércio, which, following the Rua do Arsenal, stands less than 70 meters ahead. Praça do Municipio is equally part of the urban weaving born from the city’s reconstruction under the guidance of the Marquise of Pombal. This historical detail is enough in order to make it clear that they must be understood as a counterpoint, that is, as part of a system of squares that is ampler and not isolated.

Praça do Comércio from Lisbon (Portugal)

The square owes its existence to the great Lisbon earthquake of the 1st of November 1755 and the fire that followed. On this spot, left empty due to natural disasters, a new regular city is built, as a result of reconstruction efforts coordinated by the Marquise of Pombal, the leader of the royal government.

Praça do Comércio appears on the place previously held by the court of the royal palace, Terreiro de Paço, a name still used for the square, with a side open towards the Tejo, the greatest river of the Iberian Peninsula. At 175 x 180 meters, the size of the square is huge, among the biggest on the European continent.