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A historical and artistic Belém

We have visited the historical and artistic area of Belém with a beautiful panoramic of Tagus river. There, so close of Lisbon about 7kms from its western side is located Belém.

Map Belem LisbonLocation of Belém

We have started the tour at Largo da Princesa, next to Torre de Belém Avenue where exist a fountain built in second half of XIX century.

Largo da Princesa Chafariz BelémAt Largo do Princesa in Belém. Behind the fountain Avenida Torre de BelémPanoramic of Torre de Belém Avenue

We have walked a little from Largo da Princesa. Then, we have crossed a pedestrian bridge aiming the Belém Tower.

Avenida da Indía BelémIndia Avenue seen from the pedestrian bridge

Pedestrian bridge BelemThe pedestrian bridge BelémUs and the Tower of Belém at bottom
 Belém TowerThe good mood  Belém TowerReady to enter at Belém Tower

The Belém Tower is fascinating and at same time beautiful and makes us travelling to the time of 1520 its construction date.

At first, the main goal was to defend Lisbon of possible invasions coming from Tagus river.

Belém Tower construction started with King D. João II and later was finished by King D. Manuel I.

Most of its architectural elements are from Manuelino style referring from D. Manuel I as well as from Islamic influences.

It has also served as prison and later on as customs post, telegraph signpost and lighthouse. It is considered World Heritage Site.

The map below shows two floors (1) and (2) we have visited. The remaining floors were closed due the safety measures against Covid-19.

Tower of Belem MapMain floors of Belém Tower

Upon entering in Belém Tower we climb up to the Upper Battery (1), also known as Bulwark Terrace. There, we can find Manueline elements as the Cross of the Order of Christ, the armillary spheres and also the cabins and windows in arches of Islamic influence.

Tower of Belem TerraceAt the Upper Battery
Tower of Belem TerraceStatue of Nossa Senhora of Good Success and at the upper part the windows in arches
Tower of Belem guardhousesCabin with Islamic influences
Tower of Belem guardhouses In the interior of a cabin with a window facing the river
High Cross Belem Tower Cross of the Order of Christ
The coats of arms of the Order of Christ Belem TowerIn the upper side the coats of arms of the Order of Christ

Then we go back down to the Lower Battery (2), also known Casemate. It was in this place where the artillery had strength.

Casamata Torre de BelémAt Casemate
Casamata Torre de BelémThe exhibition artillery at Casemate

Casamate Belem TowerOpen space at Casemate

When we left the Belém Tower to the MAAT museum (museum of art architecture and technology), we came across by the Tagus river, the beautiful parks, the plane monument of Gago Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral, museums and the Discoveries monument.

It’s about a 20 minute walk very pleasant from the Belém Tower to the MAAT museum.

Tower of Belem ExitAt Belém Tower exit
Tagus River BelémAround Belém Tower
Tagus river 25th April bridgeThe admirable Tagus river. At bottom the 25th April bridge and Christ the King
Combatant MuseumCombatant Museum
Belem ParkA view of large park at Belem
Gago Coutinho Plane BelémThe plane monument of Gago Coutinho & Sacadura Cabral-First South Atlantic crossing trip
Marine BelémThe marine
Museum of Popular Art BelemMuseum of Popular Art

Discoveries monument BelemAt the bottom the Discoveries monument

At outdoors, MAAT is a fantastic building with curves shaping the landscape to the Tagus river. Its texture covered by tiles give an impressive relief effect.

MAAT museum has been received several national and international awards in architecture.

MAAT BelémMAAT panorama

MAAT BelémThe architectural curves at MAAT
MAAT entrada BelemThe entrance at MAAT
MAAT entrance  Belém Tagus riverA view of 25th April bridge from MAAT
MAAT Terrace BelémExterior space to the terrace

Interesting for us visiting MAAT was the educational experimental program for children. The experiment was to get a screw with magnet properties from electricity and the final challenge would be to drop some objects “glued” with the magnetized screw into a small hole.

And what was the result! A tie.

MAAT Experiment BelemReady for the challenge
MAAT Experiência BelémThe auxiliar professor

After visiting the MAAT we have crossed a pedestrian bridge to other side opposite to Tagus river. Then we passed the National Coach Museum up to the residence house of the president of Portugal “ the pink house”.

National Museum Coaches BelemFacade of National Coach Museum The presidency houseThe residence of presidency

It was then time for the well-deserved lunch. We went to Algés, a neighbourhood about 3 kms of Belém. The restaurant was the seafood in Algés and the chosen plate was seafood rice. It was really delicious!

Arroz de marisco marisqueira de Algés

Arroz de marisco

After lunch and satisfied, we have visited the outdoors of Belém Cultural Center. Belém Cultural Center was built in 1993 and has opened leisure spaces very beautiful. It has a large conference room, venue for concerts, exhibitions and some shops around.

Belem Cultural CenterMain entrance of Belém Cultural Center Belem Cultural CenterAn area for shows
Belem Cultural CenterAt Belém Cultural Center with sightseeing to Tagus river
Belem Cultural CenterThe good mood
Jardens Belem Cultural CenterPart of gardens of Belém Cultural Center Gardens Belem Cultural CenterSide by side with the statics figurants at Belém Cultural Center

Right next door is the Monastery of Jerónimos and the beautiful gardens of Belém.

The Monastery of Jerónimos was built at XVI century during the reign of D. Manuel I. Its architecture is called Manuelina referring to D. Manuel I. It belonged to Saint Jerónimo Order. It is considered World Heritage Site and one of the seven wonders of Portugal.

Belem Cultural CenterAt bottom the Monastery of Jerónimos
Belem GardensOne of the artificial lakes of gardens
Jeronimos Monastery BelemThe gardens and the Monastery of Jerónimos (a)
Jeronimos Monastery Belem gardensThe gardens and the Monastery of Jerónimos (b)

Gardens BelemStill yet in the gardens of Belém

We have entered at the Monastery of Jerónimos Church also from Manuelino style inspiration. It has an imposing church with huge columns height. In the church are buried important figures of the history of Portugal, like D. Manuel I as well as the navigator and explorer Vasco da Gama who discovered the sea route to India and Luís de Camões one of the great Portuguese poets.

Tomb Vasco da GamaTomb of Vasco da Gama
Tomb Luís de CamõesTomb of Luís de Camões
Igreja no Mosteiro dos JerónimosHigh columns Monastery Church
Igreja no Mosterio dos JerónimosThe main chapel of Monastery Church
Igreja do Mosterio dos JerónimosInterior church with a Manueline window at bottom
Igreja do Mosteiro dos JerónimosTomb at D. Sebastião at bottom

Right next to the exit of the church about 100 meters, is the park and Greenhouses of the Tropical Botanic Garden.

Jardim Botánico BelémIn the entrance of Botanical Garden
Jardim Botánico BelémThe occupier of Botanical Garden

Then we couldn’t miss going to the famous Pasteis (pastel) de Belém . The Pasteis de Belém has a rich tradition in manufacturing its pasteis since 1837. According to the story, the factory is still ´nowadays producing pastels with the same former and secret recipe. Pastels of Belém with its freshness and doughy were absolutely tasty. It can be said that it made you to want to eat more and more.

Pastel Belem pasteis pastryMain facade of Pasteis de Belém

Pasteis de Belém pastry At the historic house of Pasteis de Belém Pasteis de Belém pastry factory Ready to go

We then have crossed the street opposite to the Pasteis de Belém. In this side is located the Thai pavilion. It was an offer from the Thailand government for the celebration over 500 years of diplomatic relations between Portugal and Thailand.

Thai pavilion at Belém gardensThai pavilion at Belém gardens

To end our tour day we went up to the Ajuda Palace about 2 kms from Pasteis de Belém.

In neoclassical style, the Ajuda Palace was home of several monarchs of the Portuguese Court.

Palácio da AjudaFacade of Ajuda Palace

Palácio da AjudaThe entrance of Ajuda Palace Palácio da AjudaStatue of D. Carlos I the last king of Portugal

From our experience the tour at Belém take us to a historical and cultural at past and present time of Portugal to the world.

It is no doubt, the perfect combination of knowledge and leisure where stand out monuments, museums, parks the Tagus river and the famous Pasteis de Belém

Hopefully our experience can help visitors looking to discover this beautiful area of Belém.

Thanks to Manuel Manero for blogging recommendations and the visitors for their photos permission

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Rui Vasconcelos

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