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Praça da Figueira Lisbon is the regarded as the third square of the Baixa district. It was never intended to be a square in the vision of Baixa by the Marquis of Pombal, after devastating 1755 earthquake. For tourists the Praça da Figueira is surrounded by open air cafes and a bronze statue of King John I and a major transport hub but the Praça da Figueira holds the atmosphere of being the least significant square of central Lisbon.
The statue of King John I in the Praça da Figueira dates only from the 1970s
Praça da Figueira will be visited by tourist on numerous occasions as the square is the transport hub of Baixa; all major bus routes pass through the square, the trams routes popular tourist start here, there is a major exit to Rossio metro station, even the open air tour bus starts from here the square. Praça da Figueira has become a meeting area for many of Portugal's ex-colonial residents who happily spend all day stood lounging outside the metro station entrance talking in a range of tongues and dialects.
The cafes of Praça da Figueira tend to cater for a mixture of both Portuguese and tourist meaning that prices and quality are much better than the other squares of Baixa but the standard of service is unpredictable and erratic. In summary Praça da Figueira will be passed though by all tourists on their way to somewhere else but the square will excite few. The atmosphere, cafes even the statue are aimed for the smaller budget traveler.
Prior to the 1755 earthquake the area covered by the Praça da Figueira Lisbon was the main hospital of Lisbon, the Todos-os-Santos (All Saints) but the destruction of the earthquake, tsunami and fires left the hospital in ruins. The prime minster of the era, the Marquis of Pombal, rebuilt Baixa following a grid and block design and the ruined hospital was transformed into the central market of Lisbon.
Figueira sqaure is a popular tourist destination
The semi permanent market was both close to the centre of Baixa but did not intrude into the elegance and wealth of the Rossio Square. In 1885 a roof was installed which protected the traders from the wet winters of Lisbon and the market flourished. The market declined during the middle of the 20th century and was demolished in 1950.
The newly cleared space was transformed into the Praça da Figueira to become Baixa's third square. To enhance that the illusion that Praça da Figueira was always in the plans of the Marquis of Pombal a bronze statue was commissioned and placed pride of place in the square. The statue of King John I appears to be much older than it actual is, being inaugurated only in 1971. The statue is a favourite of the pigeons who flock to stand on the statue and help to generally lower the appeal of Praça da Figueira .
The once grand four storey buildings that once surrounded the market have all be converted into cafes shops or hotels, much of the cheaper accommodation of Lisbon can be found within Praça da Figueira . Praça da Figueira translated into English mean Square of the Fig Tree but no fig tree has stood within the square for many centuries.