Belém (Lisbon): A Monument, Tower and Pastéis de Belém
The district of Belem made the most impact on me in Lisbon. I had spent half a day in Cascais, the Beverley Hills, of Lisbon and alighted at Belem on my way to my hotel near Martim Moniz to spend the rest of the day there. Truth be told, I would recommend allocating a full day to exploring Belem, perhaps the most historical and monument rich district in Lisbon. Things to do include the Ajuda palace and the fabulous coaches museum. My favourites, however, were the Jeronimos Monastery & Pastéis de Belém, the Belem Tower and the Monument of Discovery. Vasco da Gama who was the first European to set foot in India, Ferdinand Margellan, Bartholmeu Diaz and even Christopher Columbus all passed through Belem at some point in their voyages of discovery.
Monument of Discovery
This rather imposing monument was built as recently as 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Prince Henry the navigator’s death. The monument represents a ship ready to sail with some of the most important, famous and notable Portuguese explorers. Any European explorer worth his weight in gold has a connection to Belem.
The Belem Tower or Torre de Belem, built in 1515 was used as part of the harbour’s defence. More importantly it is a symbol of Portugal’s age of discovery and has become an iconic structure for the country and its heritage.
Pasteis de Belem and the Geronimos Monastry
Unsurprisingly as a foodie the Pasteis de Belem was my favourite Belem attraction. It was also the place I spent the most time in whilst in Belem. The experience, narrated here and including an overview of the Geronimos Monastry – Visit Lisbon for the century-old Pastéis de Belém – in detail was simply one that will not be forgotten quickly.