Positioned on Praça do Comércio and acting as a grand opening onto the Baixa’s central Rua Augusta, this ornate and imposing archway is also known as the Rua Augusta Arch.
As the name hints, the Arco Triunfal was originally built to commemorate Lisbon’s reconstruction following the devastating earthquake in 1755, although the version that exists today dates from 1875.
The Rua Augusta Arch is adorned with various statues of historical figures and following restoration in 2013 it now gives visitors the chance to visit a rooftop gazebo on top of the monument. From here there are breathtaking panoramic views across the city including the various downtown squares, cathedrals and the Tragus River.
Sculptures at the top represent Glory crowning Genius and Valor, while below them are images of national heroes Vasco da Gama, the Marquis of Pombal, Nuno Álvares Pereira and Viriato.
Six columns, some of them as tall as 11 metres high support the arch, and are decorated with statues by Portuguese sculptor Vítor Bastos (1832-1894) of several historical figures including the Marquis of Pombal, Vasco da Gama, the general Nuno Álvares Pereira and Viriatus, who resisted the Roman conquest of Portugal.
Originally designed as a bell tower, the building was ultimately transformed into an elaborate arch after more than a century.Because of the top cornice’s great height, the figures above it had to be made colossal. The female allegory of Glory stands on a three-step throne and holds two crowns. Valor is personified by an amazon, partially covered with chlamys and wearing a high-crested helmet with dragon patterns, which were the symbols of the House of Braganza. her left hand holds the parazonium, with a trophy of flags behind. The Genius encompasses a statue of Jupiter behind his left arm. At his left side are the attributes of writing and arts.
Pedestrianised since the 1980s with Portuguese calçada (mosaics of limestone and black basalt), Rua Augusta is home to numerous fashion retailers, restaurants and cafés.Comercio Square opens onto Rua Augusta through the triumphal arch (which on the Rua Augusta side has a clock with filigreed stone reliefs). This is a lively pedestrian street with mosaic pavements, outdoor cafés, international shops, and the occasional street artist and peddler.
This street will be familiar to those who have seen the movie Gulliver’s Travels, in which the Lilliputians wheeled Ted Danson, as Gulliver, through the arch.
On Rua Augusta is also a small section of Roman baths beneath the Millenium BCP Bank. You may visit the ruins and mosaics uncovered during renovation work on the bank for free, on a scheduled guided tour.
Through the gallery below we will try to travel through time of the Rua Augusto