ARCHITECT, Portuguese
(active after 1755 in Lisbon)

General view

Praça do Comércio, Lisbon

The 1755 Lisbon earthquake, also known as the Great Lisbon earthquake, occurred in the Kingdom of Portugal on Saturday, 1 November, the holy day of All Saints' Day. In combination with subsequent fires and a tsunami, the earthquake almost totally destroyed Lisbon and adjoining areas. Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, Marques de Pombal (1699-1782), the minister of king Joseph I, took control of the situation after the catastrophe. He established a new layout for the inner city, the Cidade Baixa, which had previously been dominated by the royal palace on the banks of the Enjoy, and which was surrounded by narrow, winding streets. He had the area between the river and the chain of hills beyond built as a modern planned city; broad north-south axes were regularly intersected at right angles by smaller crossroads, and two great squares, the Praça do Comércio in the south and the Rossio in the north, defined the limits of the Baixa.

The Praça do Comércio may well be considered the most spectacular of these new innovations. It forms a generous open urban space, where until 1755 the royal palace had stood. This square reoriented Lisbon completely. Here, where the city faces the sea, is its new heart, the trading centre. The state buildings of stock exchange, customs hall, and arsenal line the edge of the square, while only echoes of the palace architecture remain in the "torreoes," the imitations of Herrera's palace towers.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.