Royal Council Building
The Praça do Município (Municipal Square), with its harmonious proportions and enclosed by Pombaline buildings, was built after the earthquake of 1755 to house the Senate whose palace had been in Rossio. By shifting the Senate building here, Pombal was symbolically placing local power close to central power. In the centre of the Square and facing the Paços do Concelho there is an 18th century pillory, a symbol of municipal autonomy, modelled in a spire and topped by an armillary sphere.
In 1863, a fire destroyed part of the original Pombaline construction which proved impossible to restore. However, spared the same fate was the Historical and General Archive for the City.
Between 1865 and 1880, the current building went up on the same site but in accordance with clearly different aesthetic concepts, hence the imposing neo-classicism of the façade.
The imaginary allegoric sculptures on the triangular pediment, initially proposed by Domingos Parente da Silva were, at the time, cause of great controversy. The pediment, with the figures sculpted by Anatole Calmels, was only definitively placed in September 1882.
In the centre, there is the coat of arms of the city of Lisbon. To the right, there is a masculine figure which represents Love and Liberty (in the original proposal by Domingos Parente, this would have represented Nation), accompanied by representations of Science and Liberty. To the left there is a feminine figure symbolising Liberty accompanied by Industry and Commerce, in a highly significant allusion to the role of the city in the destiny of the Portuguese city.
The great veranda running round the building is projected out into the Square from the Salão Nobre (Main Reception Room). Some of the greatest acts in Portuguese history have taken place on this spot, for example, it was from this very same veranda that Afonso Costa established the founding of a Portuguese Republic on 5th October 1910.
In November 1996, another fire destroyed the upper floors. A restoration plan was swiftly drawn up and implemented involving the work of various Portuguese architects and designers. The result was the renovation of the interior that manages to successfully intertwine the ancient heritage with high quality modern design.