After heading over to Lisbon last month I spent one sunny morning strolling around the historical sites of Belem. From rich original pastries to a beautiful Monastery, Belem really is a feast for the eyes (and tummy).
If you are coming from Belem train station, make sure you have a walk through Afonso de Albuquerque Square (the circle in the green space on the map) and check out the column and beautiful park on your way to our first stop.
Our first official stop is:
You’re all familiar with the signature Custard Tart (Pastel De Nata) of Portugal right? Born in the 1830’s, Pasteis de Belem is the original shop that started selling them and I highly recommend them! There was a huge queue to grab and go but it is also possible to sit inside too. Inside is an absolute maze of rooms decorated with hundreds of tables and chairs and traditional blue and white tiles. Their pastries are made fresh every day and in such high demand that they have a window where you can see them making them too! For just €1.15 they’re cheap and delicious!
Next up is:
Declared a heritage site in 1983, the Jerónimos Monastery was build in celebration for Vasco da Gama. Who is that lad you may ask? Well he was the first European adventurer to reach India by the sea and what a welcome home gift it is! Designed with late Portuguese Gothic style in mind Jerónimos Monsastrey is also a great place to visit even if you are not religious and can just appreciate incredibly pretty buildings.
You can enter the church for free (I did) but I think the second part of the building incurs a charge. It’s very busy in there which also makes it a hub for pick pockets and people harassing you to buy their necklaces so please be cautious. It’s worth a visit inside if you can and it makes a nice escape from the heat. Afterwards make sure you cross the street and enter the pretty gardens (free). You can cool off by standing next to the fountains.
On wards to:
Before you look ahead of you, make sure you look at the ground! Around 50 meters long, red, black, white and decorated with a map of the world in the centre; the beautiful Rose Compass was a gift given from South Africa for bravery.
Unfortunately I went at such a busy time so I was unable to photograph any of it! This is a nice quick stop before seeing our next sight and quite spacious if you need a breather.
Just footsteps away from the Rose Compass sits the Monument Of The Discoveries. Decorated with 33 important public figures, this fab architectural piece sits right on the edge of land facing the Tagus River. The figures are all important in their own right and are made up of 32 males and 1 female, Queen Philippa (from England!) Lead by Henry the navigator, on the left side he is followed by King Alfonso and Vasco Da Gama. In brief, the trio were the main ones responsible for the earliest discoveries and of course, as mentioned up there.. Vasco Da Gama was the one making the journeys!
Our final stop and one that was my favourite site to see is:
Built for the soul purpose of protecting Belem from Pirates and enemies; Belem Tower is the number one tourist attraction to see when visiting. Originally surrounded by Water, the Tower is now a symbol of the Age Of Discoveries and truly a place Portugal is proud of. Noted also as the Gateway of Lisbon, for just €6 you can visit inside the tower.
In the summer months, when the tide is out there is a little beach that you can sit on. Alternatively, there are steps to sit on if you just want to gaze at the Tower in the sunshine!
That completes my little guide to Belem. I hope you enjoyed this post and it wasn’t too overwhelming in history and rambling! Of course, there is a lot more to Belem than these sights and I encourage you always to explore further!
Let me know your thoughts! Have you ever visited Lisbon and Belem?