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  • Writer's pictureBen West

A Brief History of Restauradores Square in Lisbon

What is Restauradores Square?

Restauradores Square is a key square in Lisbon that commemorates Portugal’s independence and contains some architectural gems.

Restauradores Square statue and monument

Restauradores Square History

During the 17th century, the Kingdoms of Spain and Portugal were part of an uneasy dynastic alliance. However, after 60 years of growing discontent, thanks to political appointments of Spanish figures, increased taxation, and the appropriation of their navy and army, a powerful drive towards independence was developing within the Portuguese people. A series of popular revolts came to a head in 1640, when the governor was toppled and the de facto prime minister shot and tossed from a window to the angry mob below. The period that followed is generally known as the Restoration, marking the return of the Portuguese monarchy. This cobbled, rectangular area, whose name translates to ‘Restoration Square’, commemorates Portugal’s gaining of independence.

At ground level you’ll find a wonderful patterned pavement. This highly detailed decoration surrounds a 30-metre-high obelisk of flamboyant design dating from 1886, with plaques listing the main battles fought during the Portuguese War of Restoration. It’s embellished with two allegorical bronze statues by José Simões de Almeida and Alberto Nunes, which depict Freedom and Victory. The obelisk itself was funded by public subscription and designed by Portuguese artist and architect António Tomas da Fonseca.

Restauradores Square

The square is interesting for featuring buildings displaying a wide range of architectural styles, from Classical 17th-century examples to ornate Art Deco structures. One of the most striking is the Palácio Foz (to the west of the square), built between the mid-18th and mid-19th centuries. The former residence of the Marquis of Foz, it has an Italianate Baroque pink façade and beautiful interiors inspired by the Palace of Versailles. These include a grand Louis XIV-style staircase, a Gothic Revival basement and a Versailles-like Hall of Mirrors. It once housed the Ministry of Propaganda under Salazar’s 20th-century regime, but is now home to a less menacing occupant, the Portuguese Tourist Office.

Another building of note is the vibrant Condes Cinema (to the square’s north), now housing a Hard Rock Café, which was designed in Art Deco style by prominent Portuguese architect Raul Tojal. A further building that was previously a cinema and theatre, the Eden (beside the Palácio Foz), designed by architect Cassiano Branco, boasts a magnificent Art Deco façade and a sumptuous interior. It was featured (as a Russian hotel) in the Wim Wenders film Until the End of the World. This pretty square not only acts as a conduit to the city centre, but also functions as an architectural museum and a feast for the eyes.

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