Begin your journey to Belem, a historic district in Lisbon, where every cobblestone tells a story, and each monument echoes with the richness of the past. As a dedicated traveler, my mission is to be your guide through the enchanting mosaic of Belem, revealing not just its iconic landmarks but also the hidden gems that await your exploration.
Start your adventure at the renowned monument of Portugal’s Age of Discovery, the Belem Tower, which is designated by UNESCO. Perched on the banks of the Tagus River, the Belem Tower, also called the Tower of St. Vincent, is a wonder of fortification. Its elaborate Manueline-style architecture, which was built as a military fortification in the early 16th century, is a reminder of Portugal’s nautical heritage.
- Hours: 10:00 to 17:00
- Admission: €8 per person (Book in advance and be prepared to climb narrow stairs.)
Visit the magnificence of the Jeronimos Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a masterwork of Manueline architecture. Its elaborate sculptures, which memorialize Vasco da Gama’s great trip, feature biblical images, botanical wonders, and nautical elements. The Church of Santa Maria, where notable people like Vasco da Gama are resting in eternal peace, is the main attraction. The decorations with a maritime motif capture the spirit of exploration and match the grandeur of the monastery. The quiet cloisters are equally magnificent, offering a peaceful haven.
Note: Buy your tickets online. The line can be very long at the entrance for a ticket.
- Hours: 10 :00 to 18:30
- Admission: €121 pp. with audio guide
The Church of Santa Maria de Belém
The Church of Santa Maria de Belém, an integral part of the magnificent Jerónimos Monastery, stands as a testament to Portugal’s golden age of exploration. Built in the Manueline style, this grand church is a masterpiece of intricate architecture adorned with maritime motifs, echoing the country’s seafaring achievements. Stepping into its hallowed halls, visitors are enveloped in a sense of awe as they admire the ornate detailing and serene beauty that grace this historic sanctuary. The Church of Santa Maria de Belém is not just a place of worship; it’s a living testament to Portugal’s rich cultural and maritime heritage, inviting travelers to delve into the captivating narrative of the nation’s past.
- Note: This is included in your ticket to Jeronimos Monastery
Pastels de Belem
After you tour the Jeronimos Monastery, indulge your taste buds at Pastels de Belem, home to the original custard tart recipe. Established in 1837, this charming establishment offers the original recipe, known only to a select few. The warm, flaky pastries, sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar, provide an authentic taste of Portuguese culinary excellence.
- Tip: The tip might be long, but well worth the wait! If you want pastels to go, you can go to a separate window, and the line is much quicker.
- Hours: 8:00 to 23:00
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Tucked down at the mouth of the Tagus River, the Belem Lighthouse guides mariners with its comforting beacon like a stoic sentinel. Amidst the Atlantic, this quaint lighthouse radiates a subtle grace. Built in the early 1800s, the lighthouse has been the subject of many seafaring legends and provides a calm haven from Belem’s busy attractions.
Monument of the Discoveries
A dramatic monument honoring Portugal’s Age of Exploration, the Monument of the Discoveries, sits majestically along the riverbank. This enormous monument, shaped like a caravel, pays tribute to explorers such as Henry the Navigator and Vasco da Gama. Climb to the observation deck for expansive views of the river and surroundings.
- Viewing Platform Hours: daily March to September: 10:00 to 19:00; October to February: 10:00 to 18:00
Admission: €5 per person
Lisbon Maritime Museum
Dive into Portugal’s seafaring history at the Lisbon Maritime Museum, housed in the grandeur of the Jeronimos Monastery’s western wing. Exhibits chronicle the country’s maritime exploits, featuring models of historic ships, navigational instruments, and artifacts from significant naval events.
- Hours: daily 10:00 to 18:00 (May 1–Sept. 30): 10:00 to 17:00 (Oct. 1 –April 30)
- Admission: €7 per person (Click here for updated pricing)
MAAT Gallery (Tejo Power Station)
The MAAT (Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology) Gallery stands as a captivating convergence of contemporary design and cultural exploration. The galleries within showcase a dynamic blend of visual arts, architecture, and technology, making MAAT a multifaceted cultural hub. The rooftop terrace offers panoramic views of Lisbon and the river, providing a serene space for reflection.
- Hours: Wednesday to Monday: 10:00 – 19:00
- Admission: €11 per person
National Coach Museum
The National Coach Museum unveils a regal collection of royal carriages, illustrating the opulence of Portuguese royalty. Each carriage, adorned with intricate details and sumptuous materials, tells the story of bygone eras
- Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 10:00–18:00, Closed on Monday
- Admission: €8 per person (visit the website for more details)
Experience the fascinating world of seismic activity at the Quake Museum. Interactive exhibits delve into the science of earthquakes, providing an educational yet entertaining journey. From earthquake simulators to historical accounts, the museum sheds light on the geological forces shaping Portugal’s landscape.
- Hours: 10:00 to 18:00
- Admission: €21 per person
Each of these sites in Belem offers a unique facet of Portugal’s history and culture, ensuring that every step taken is a discovery and every moment spent is an enriching experience. Whether you’re captivated by architectural wonders, savoring culinary delights, or delving into maritime legacies, Belem invites you to immerse yourself in its captivating narrative.
Enjoy your travels! Please read my blogs about other exciting places around the world at Traveling Lens Photography.