Marquis of Pombal Square

Marquis of Pombal Square (20)

Even today the Marquis of Pombal is still one of the most charismatic political figures in Portuguese history. He was prime minister under King José I and governed from 1750 to 1777. He was also a key representative of erudite despotism and lived through the great 1755 Lisbon earthquake. 

“Bury the dead and feed the living,” was his motto. And the efficiency with which he dealt with the terrible disaster and the way he built the city up from ruin brought him great renown.

One of his main accomplishments was to bring to the ruined city a new and rational style of urban design and this is noted in the square created in his honour. The statue of the statesman stands on top of a column and looks over some of his great work, the well-shaped square format of the area known as the “Baixa Pombalina”.

From the column, the Marquis of Pombal looks out at other examples of his creativity and is surrounded by their symbolism. This statue, erected in 1934, shows Pombal standing on a pedestal listing all his achievements while, as a sign of power, his hand rests on a lion.

Crossing the immense square, with the traffic moving all around you, and passing through the underground passageway you will be able to see in detail the allegoric figures displayed on the monument’s pedestal. 

Some of these tell of the educational, agricultural and political reforms made by the statesman. Others show the Coimbra University, where Pombal founded a science faculty. The monument also depicts the 1755 earthquake which left as much of a mark on Lisbon as it did on the man. This is conveyed through images of boulders and waves which appear to bury the city.

As with many of the city’s streets, the ground around the square is paved with a mosaic depicting Lisbon’s coat of arms.

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