The formal name for this grand public square is Praça Dom Pedro IV, but locals prefer to call it by its former name, Rossio. Built in the 13th century as Lisbon's main public space, it remains a bustling social hub and, traffic noise aside, it's still a grand public space where lively crowds gather to socialize among baroque fountains beneath a statue of Dom Pedro atop a towering column. Visitors can admire the dramatic wave-pattern cobblestones (famously reconstructed on the beach promenades of Rio de Janeiro) and soak up the sense of drama. The square was founded as the largest public space in the city, and has seen everything from bullfights and musical performances to public executions. During the Portuguese Inquisition, it was the setting for public autos-da-fé. The site of the gruesome procedures is now occupied by the imposing 19th-century Teatro Nacional (National Theater). On nearby Largo de São Domingos, where thousands were burned, there's a memorial to Jewish victims of the Inquisition. Today, locals come here to relax with a newspaper, have their boots polished by the shoe shiners, or sip a ginjinha (traditional sour-cherry liqueur) at one of the bars. Tourists come to sip somewhat overpriced coffees and snacks at the café-bars that flank the square, and protestors come to loudly but respectfully state their political case. Another suitably grand building houses downtown's main train station, which is the starting point for trips to Sintra.


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