Baixa Guide: What It’s Like to Live in Baixa, Lisbon

Baixa is the most central and renowned neighbourhood in Lisbon, Portugal. This historic district was completely rebuilt by the Marquis of Pombal after the devastating earthquake that destroyed part of the city in the eighteenth century. Today, Baixa is known for its large classical avenues flanked by houses covered in beautiful tiles, showcasing the typical Lisbon style.

One of the main advantages of living in Baixa is its central location. From here, you can easily access other popular neighborhoods such as Cais do Sodré, Chiado, Bairro Alto, and Graça. The area is well-connected by public transport, with a metro line, trams, and plenty of bus services. This makes it convenient to explore the city and visit going-out neighbourhoods like Cais do Sodré and Bairro Alto without having to live amidst the noise and crowds.

Another benefit of living in Baixa is the peacefulness at night. Despite being packed with stores and restaurants during the day, the area can be very quiet in the evenings. This can be a significant advantage for those seeking a tranquil place to stay in the heart of the city.

However, living in Baixa also has its drawbacks. The neighborhood is primarily focused on tourism, with most businesses being clothes shops or restaurants catering to visitors. As a result, Baixa lacks the authentic neighborhood feel that many residents seek. The area also lacks a decent-sized supermarket, although there are small grocery stores (minimercados) and the Mercado da Ribeira nearby.

Additionally, many of the residential properties in Baixa are used as short-term rentals or Airbnbs, which means that a significant portion of your neighbors may be tourists rather than long-term residents. This can make it challenging to build a sense of community and connection with your neighbors.

In conclusion, living in Baixa, Lisbon, offers a unique experience in a central and historic neighborhood. The area’s convenient location, good public transport connections, and peaceful nights are appealing to many. However, the tourism-focused atmosphere and lack of some residential amenities may not suit everyone’s preferences. Ultimately, the decision to live in Baixa depends on your individual priorities and lifestyle.

What’s in the Neighbourhood

Avenida da Liberdade: One of the most prominent features of Baixa is the Avenida da Liberdade, a beautiful avenue stretching just over a kilometer (0.62 miles) long. Considered the stateliest avenue in Lisbon, it is lined with magnificent nineteenth-century buildings and pavements covered in intricate black and white mosaic patterns. The avenue is dotted with charming cafes, monuments, and gardens, making it a perfect spot for a leisurely stroll or a relaxing coffee break.

Restauradores Square: At the southern end of Avenida da Liberdade lies Restauradores Square, a historic square named to commemorate those who rebelled against Spanish domination in 1640. The square’s centerpiece is a large obelisk dedicated to the restoration of Portugal’s independence. The striking Edén Hotel, housed in a former cinema, adds to the square’s architectural allure.

Rossio Square: Adjacent to Restauradores Square is Rossio Square, also known as Pedro IV Square, which dates back to the thirteenth century. Today, Rossio Square is the liveliest square in Lisbon, serving as a popular meeting point for locals and visitors alike. The square’s stunning fountains and the National Theatre Dona Maria II are notable landmarks.

Praça da Figueira: A short walk from Rossio Square leads to Praça da Figueira, another stunning square surrounded by classical buildings and featuring an impressive equestrian statue of King John I. Connected to the plaza is Rua Augusta, an elegant pedestrian avenue that leads to Praça do Comércio, arguably the most dazzling square in the city. Once home to the Royal Palace, Praça do Comércio offers breathtaking views of the Tagus River and the iconic Rua Augusta Arch. The streets flanking Rua Augusta, particularly Rua do Ouro and Rua da Prata (gold and silver streets), were once specialized in their respective trades, adding to the area’s historical charm.

Elevador de Santa Justa: One of the most unique attractions in Baixa is the Santa Justa Lift (Elevador de Santa Justa), a fascinating blend of transportation and tourist attraction. This beautifully crafted elevator, designed by Raul Mesnier de Ponsard, a student of Gustave Eiffel, connects the lower streets of Baixa with the higher Largo do Carmo. The neo-Gothic style lift offers stunning views over the city from its observation deck.

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