The 1755 Great Earthquake destroyed downtown Lisbon, and the rebuilding of the city center is considered Europe’s first example of urban planning. In a style that came to be called Pombaline after the Marquis de Pombal, who was instrumental in its execution, the Baixa district is a living architectural wonder where commerce, art, and government continue to make the area vibrant.
Most any walk through Baixa is rich with beautiful buildings and streets–even the pavements feature dramatic mosaic designs. The Praça do Comércio is a grand gateway and plaza to the area. Rossio Square with its shops and cafes dating back to the 18th century showcases the Arco da Bandeira (Bandeira Arch), the Estação de Caminhos de Ferro do Rossio (Rossio Train Station) with it gorgeous neo-Manueline facade, and the huge bronze fountains lit at night. The Praça dos Restauradores is a square that has an unusual mix of neoclassic and art deco buildings, with the Palacio Foz–a baroque palace where the Lisbon tourist office can be found. Both the Gloria Funicular and the Santa Justa Lift are quirky and unique attractions to seek out as well.
The Baixa is home to the Museu de Design e da Moda (Museum of Design and Fashion), and the Lisbon Story Centre, which relays Lisbon history in a multimedia presentation. Check out Rua Augustina, the prime boutique shopping street that is pedestrian only.