Lisbon's Arch Revival

Landmark Arco da Rua Augusta is the city's newest visitor attraction, and provides fabulous downtown views

By
Lisbon Local Expert

Photo courtesy of Paul BernhardtOne of Lisbon’s most iconic landmarks has opened to the public. 

The triumphal arch, a 19th-century building that looms over Praça do Comércio (Terreiro do Paço), underwent extensive renovation before its inauguration on August 9th, and is better known as Arco da Rua Augusta.

This new attraction has an elevator cleverly installed within the structure that whisks visitors to the top. Here, looking north, sweeping views of the square and the River Tagus can be enjoyed. An impressive rooftop perspective of the busy Baixa district unveils itself to the south.

Careful cleaning and refurbishment of the archway has brightened the entire veneer of Terreiro do Paço, and the location, with its cafes and restaurants set under mustard-colored arcades, is a now a lively hub for locals and visitors alike.

The historic monument, designed by renowned Portuguese architect Santos de Carvalho and built to celebrate the reconstruction of Lisbon after the great earthquake of 1755, was completed in 1873. 

Standing regally over the imposing edifice is an allegorical statue of Glory, crowning figures representing Bravery and Genius with wreaths. The carved entablature supports additional figures of national heroes including Vasco da Gama, Nuno Álvares and the Marquês de Pombal.

Digital wizardry allowed actor Ted Danson of Cheers fame to duck under the arch in a remarkable scene from the 1996 production of Gulliver's Travels.

The inauguration was marked by a stunning nighttime multimedia show that saw the arch and the galleries' either side transformed into an architectural canvas for a colorful video mapping presentation. Animated episodes from Portugal’s history were projected onto the facades to illustrate the role Lisbon played in forging the nation’s strength and character.

The show runs until August 18th with daily sessions at 9:30 pm, 10:30 pm and 11:30 pm. The arch is open every day, 9 am to 7 pm.  


About Paul Bernhardt

Paul Bernhardt has walked under Lisbon's famous arch many times. But it's far more fun taking the lift to the top. 

Read more about Paul Bernhardt here.

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