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Praça do Príncipe Real Square

Praça do Príncipe Real Square (49)

This elegant and aristocratic square is found in the popular district of the Bairro Alto. You can easily spend an afternoon here visiting craft workshops, taverns and fados bars, then suddenly find yourself in one this charming neighbourhood’s streets, which are particularly busy during the summer, enjoying the cool shade of one of its famous cedar trees.

The square is surrounded by small palaces and 19th century mansions. It was built in 1860 and worth paying particular attention to is the spectacular building at number twenty-six. This is a neo-Moorish construction, made up of pinnacles and domes, which contains some of Lisbon University’s offices.

Before there was a square on this site, attempts were made to build various significant buildings here. Examples of them are the family palace of the Marquis of Alegrate, which was abandoned and lay in ruins at the end of the 18th century, the College of the Missions of Jesus’ Company, which was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake, and the General Treasury of the Kingdom, which saw the start of building work around 1789, but whose pharaonic designs made progress so difficult that it too was abandoned. 

But the plan to plant the Roman gardens did not end in failure. In the present day this lovely site is where Lisbon’s inhabitants come to walk tidy pathways and have a drink in the bar, especially at the weekend.

Small shrubs, well thought-out flower tapestries and different types of trees can all be found behind the benches, next to the fences or around the bust of the journalist França Borges, erected here in 1915.

But the star of this square and garden is, without doubt, its cedar tree. Take a note of its figures: more than three-hundred years old, four metres tall and almost thirty metres in diameter at the crown. In the “Praça do Príncipe Real” square nothing escapes its shadow, and the elderly locals who gather here to play cards know this only too well.

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