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Belém, the Lisbon of Discoveries!
Belém is a coastal neighborhood in Lisbon known for the history of Portugal, for the monuments related to the time of the Portuguese Discoveries, with wide spaces of gardens, coastal pedestrian areas, marinas and restaurants facing the river. The neighborhood of Belém is located on the west side of the city, bordering Alcântara to the east, the district of Ajuda to the north and Algés, in the bordering municipality of Oeiras located to the west. Belém is close to Restelo, a neighborhood known for its noble class housing and the existence of embassies from different countries.
Belém was the place of departure of the Portuguese caravels in the 15th century, during the Age of Discovery. It is in Belém that we find the pastel de Belém, the Jerónimos Monastery, the Belém Tower, the Padrão dos Descobrimentos and the Belém Cultural Center. Belém is a neighborhood full of life, history, culture and art. In Belém it is possible to stroll along the famous Portuguese sidewalk, observe statues, live the life provided by groups of tourists dazzled by the beauty of the Tagus river and monuments, have a coffee on the terrace in front of the river or do sports. On Sundays in the morning, Belém is a pilgrimage spot for Lisbon residents, and during the summer it is possible to observe groups of people practicing ancient Chinese art of tai-chi, running or cycling. Belém is a unique neighborhood that leaves no one indifferent.
The neighborhoods of Belém and Restelo belong to the Parish Council of Belém.
Attractions to visit in Belém (top 10)
1. Jerónimos Monastery: is one of the most important monuments in Lisbon and the time of the Portuguese Discoveries, located in Praça do Império. The Jerónimos Monastery started to be built in 1501 with money obtained through taxes applied to spices that came from the Empire, namely Vintena da Pimenta, which corresponded to 5% of profits on trade with Africa and Asia. The architects responsible for the Jerónimos Monastery project were Diogo de Boitaca (1460-1528), João de Castilho (1490-1581), Diogo de Torralva (1500-1566) and Jerónimo de Ruão (1530 -1601). Dom Manuel I (1469-1521) donated the monastery to the order of São Jerónimo with the aim of praying for the souls of fishermen, sailors and navigators who left Restelo beach. The main points of interest of Jerónimos Monastery are:
- South Gate of the Jerónimos Monastery: built between 1516 and 1518 by João de Castilho and has the figure of Nossa Senhora de Belém with the Child as a highlight. Around Our Lady are the statues that represent the Prophets, the Apostles, Doctors of the Church and Saints. At the South Gate of the Jerónimos Monastery there are two bas-reliefs that depict episodes from the life of São Jerónimo and a statue of Infante Dom Henrique;
- Main door of the Jerónimos Monastery: built by Nicolau Chanterenne in 1517, it stands out for the statues of the Annunciation, Nativity, Adoration of the Magi, by Dom Manuel de Dona Maria, São Jerónimo and São João Baptista.
- Church of Santa Maria de Belém: with the tombs of King Dom Sebastião, Vasco da Gama and Luís Vaz de Camões, the bones of Cardinal-King Dom Henrique, sons of Dom Manuel I and Dom João III. The confessionals and stained glass windows by Abel Manta;
- Main chapel of the Jerónimos Monastery: built in 1571 by Jerónimo de Ruão. The highlights of the Main Chapel are the marble elephants, the tombs of Dom Manuel I, Dona Maria, Dom João III and Dona Catarina; the altarpiece with paintings that portray the Passion of Christ and the Adoration of the Magi by Lourenço de Salzedo and the Silver Tabernacle by João de Sousa;
- Cloister of the Jerónimos Monastery: was built between 1517 and 1541 by Diogo de Boitaca, João de Castilho and Diogo de Torralva. It is a unique example of Manueline style in Portugal. In the lower cloister is the tomb of Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) by Lagoa Henriques;
- Refectory of the Jerónimos Monastery: was built between 1517 and 1518 by Leonardo Vaz and stands out for the tile panels that represent the Miracle of the Multiplication of the Bread and Fish of the Novo Testament, and the Life of Joseph of Egypt from the Old Testament, drawn up between 1780 and 1785, a 17th century painting representing St. Jerome by Avelar Rebelo, the chimney and an oil painting representing the Adoration of the Shepherds, by the author António Campelo;
- Chapter Room of the Jerónimos Monastery: was built between 1517 and 1518 by Rodrigo de Pontezilha with the purpose of being used as a meeting room for monks. The main points of interest of the Chapter Room of the Jerónimos Monastery are the door with two images of São Bernardo and São Jerónimo, and the tomb of Alexandre Herculano by Eduardo Augusto da Silva;
- Sacristy of the Jerónimos Monastery: was built between 1517 and 1520 by João de Castilho and stands out for the fourteen oil paintings representing the life of São Jerónimo, by Simão Rodrigues, the six paintings of the Passion of Christ by the painter António Carneiro and a figure of Nossa Senhora da Nazaré, by Josefa de Óbidos
- Confessionals of the Jerónimos Monastery: there are twelve confessionals, two of them covered by the Chapel of Senhor dos Passos;
- Choir-Alto do Mosteiro dos Jerónimos: was built by Diogo de Çarça between 1548 and 1550. The highlights of the Choir-Alto do Mosteiro dos Jerónimos are a sculpture representing Christ Crucified, by Philippe de Vries, ten paintings representing ten Apostles (two were lost in the Earthquake of November 1, 1755), São Jerónimo and Santo Agostinho;
- Jerónimos Monastery Library: was built in 1640 by Prior Frei Bento de Siqueira to integrate the books left by the Infante Dom Luís (son of Dom Manuel I) donated to the Monastery. At the time of the closing of the Order of São Jerónimo in the 19th century, there were approximately eight thousand volumes, currently distributed by Torre do Tombo, National Library and Casa Pia de Lisboa. The biggest highlight of the Livraria do Mosteiro dos Jerónimos is the permanent exhibition “Um Lugar no Tempo” that tells the History of Jerónimos, the Tower of Belém, Portugal and Universal.
2. Torre de Belém (Torre de São Vicente): is a Portuguese cultural heritage monument located on the old beach of Belém, classified since 1983 as World Heritage, by (UNESCO), it is currently one of the most visited monuments in Lisbon. The Torre de Belém was built between 1514 and 1516 by Francisco de Arruda, was elected on July 7, 2007 as one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. The Torre de Belém monument had several functions, namely fortress and prison, currently the main points of interest are:
- Exterior of the Torre de Belém: with images of São Miguel and São Vicente, patron saint of Lisbon and the Torre de Belém, and a figure representing the rhino that the king Dom Manuel I sent an embassy to the Pope in 1515;
- Bastion of Torre de Belém: the bastion even had 17 cannons for the defense of Lisbon. The point of interest of the Bulwark of the Torre de Belém is the cloister, built to allow the smoke out of the cannons;
- South facade of Torre de Belém: is the main facade of the tower, a facade where the representation of the royal shield of Dom Manuel I is surrounded by armillary spheres and crosses of the Order of Christ;
- Torre de Belém Governor’s Room: with a cistern that collected rainwater and a spiral staircase that allows access to the terrace;
- Sala dos Reis at Torre de Belém: with eight round openings that allow you to observe the Tagus River, the South Bank of the Tagus, and a large fireplace;
- Torre de Belém Audience Room: with two semicircular arch windows, two armillary spheres and a large stone representing the royal coat of arms;
- Chapel of Torre de Belém: with representation of the armillary sphere, the cross of Christ and the royal shield;
- Torre de Belém terrace of Torre de Belém: where we can see the Chapel of São Jerónimo, the district of Belém, the Monastery of Jerónimos, the South Bank of the Tagus and the Búgio, and the Bugío with a lighthouse that symbolizes the end of the Tagus River and the beginning of the Atlantic Ocean.
3. Padrão dos Descobrimentos: was built for the first time for the Portuguese World Exhibition in 1940 by Cottinelli Telmo (1897-1948) and Leopoldo de Almeida (1898-1975). It was rebuilt, definitely in 1960 in honor of Infante Dom Henrique. In 1985 it was improved with the creation of a viewpoint, an auditorium and exhibition rooms by the architect Fernando Ramalho. The main points of interest of the Padrão dos Descobrimentos are:
- Sculptural Ensemble – East Side of the Discoveries Pattern: presents 16 statues of great figures of the Portuguese Discoveries, namely Bartolomeu Dias, Afonso Gonçalves Baldaia, Diogo Cão, Francisco Xavier, Martim Afonso de Sousa, Vasco da Gama, Cristóvão da Gama, António de Abreu, Estêvão da Gama, Gaspar Corte-Real, Nicolau Coelho, Afonso de Albuquerque, Dom Afonso V, Fernão de Magalhães, João de Barros and Pedro Álvares Cabral;
- Sculpture Group West Side of the Monument to the Discoveries: presents 17 statues of great figures of the Portuguese Discoveries, namely: Infante Dom Henrique, Frei Gonçalo de Carvalho, Gomes Eanes de Zurara, Jácome de Mallorca, Nuno Gonçalves, Pêro de Alenquer, Dona Filipa de Lencastre, Frei Henrique de Coimbra, Infante Dom Henrique, João Gonçalves Zarco, Pedro Nunes, Pêro de Escobar, Fernão Mendes Pinto, Gil Eanes, Infante Dom Pedro, Luís Vaz de Camões and Pêro da Covilhã;
- Rosa dos dos Ventos do Padrão dos Descobrimentos: located on the pavement that gives access to the Padrão dos Descobrimentos was offered by South Africa in 1960 and restored in 1994 at the Lisbon Celebrations European Capital of Culture. The Compass Rose of the Discoveries Pattern depicts the main dates and routes of the Portuguese Discoveries.
4. National Coach Museum: located between Belém Train Station and the Palace of Belém, the museum was opened on May 23, 1905 by Queen Dona Amélia, wife of King Dom Carlos I. The royal coaches were installed for the first time in the building of the former Royal Riding Arena, designed by Giacomo Azzolini in 1726. On May 23, 2015, the coach collection was transferred to the building where the current exhibition is located. The collection of the National Coach Museum is considered the largest collection of royal coaches in the world. The main coaches are the Coach of Philip II, Coach of Dom João V, Coach of Pope Clement XI, Coche dos Oceanos and the Coche by Dona Maria Francisca de Sabóia.
5. Pastéis de Belém (Former Confeitaria de Belém): is the best known pastry in Lisbon due to the traditional cake “pastel de Belém”, known in Portugal as “pastel de nata”. The Pastelaria e Fábrica dos Pastéis de Belém is located next to the Jerónimos Monastery on Rua de Belém in the same facilities that operate since 1837. The pastéis de Belém were created by a monk from the Jerónimos Monastery at a time when all monasteries and convents in Portugal were closed, causing the monks to have to fight for survival. The recipe for “pastel de Belém” was immediately a success and passed on to the current owners of the space. That was how the Pastéis de Belém Factory started and one of Portugal’s main pastry brands. It is common for queues of customers who gather to enter the pastry shop to surround the block.
6. Centro Cultural de Belém – CCB: is a foundation dedicated to culture and art, with spaces for conferences, exhibitions and art shows, with shops and cafes, it opened on the 10th of August 1993 to receive the first EU presidency in Lisbon. The Centro Cultural de Belém, located opposite the Jerónimos Monastery, was designed by Manuel Salgado and Vittorio Gregotti and organized into three main structures, namely:
- Meeting Center;
- Show Center: with three rooms, highlighting the Grand Auditorium with a capacity of 1429 seats;
- Exhibition Center: with four exhibition galleries of fine arts, architecture, design and photography, shops, cafeteria, and the Foundation for Modern and Contemporary Art – Berardo Collection Museum, since June 2007.
7. Praça Afonso de Albuquerque: is a square opened in 1902 in honor of Dom Afonso de Albuquerque, located in front of the Palace of Belém, between the Coach Museum and the Vasco da Gama Garden, where restaurants with terraces are located. The main points of interest in Praça Afonso de Albuquerque are the Monument in memory of Dom Afonso de Albuquerque with emphasis on the four bas-reliefs with episodes from Dom’s life Afonso de Albuquerque, for the bronze statue representing the Viceroy of India, built in the center of the square by Costa Mota and Silva Pinto; and the Stone benches in front of the Dom Afonso de Albuquerque Monument where the football club “Os Belenenses” was created on September 23, 1919.
8. Praça do Império: is a square composed of a rectangular garden with a fountain in the center, designed by the architect Vasco Lacerda Marques and the gardening works by Gomes Amorim designed by the architect Cottinelli Telmo (1897 -1948) for the 1940 Portuguese World Exhibition. Located in front of the Jerónimos Monastery, the Praça do Império has the highlights:
Jardim do Praça do Império: consisting of thirty coats of arms representing the arms of the district capitals of Portugal and the former Overseas Provinces; a shield from the Order of Avis, a shield from the Order of Christ and a sundial. 300 trees and shrubs were planted, 75 thousand sardine trees, 800 thousand square meters of grass, 50 thousand seasonal plants and 44 cypress trees;
- Monumental Fountain of Praça do Império: with representation of Portuguese colonies’ coat of arms and hydraulic equipment that allows 63 different compositions 45 minutes of water, light and color shows;
- Lagos da Praça do Império: four quarters with sculptural motifs of marine animals, by António Duarte.
9. Planetarium Calouste Gulbenkian: is a Live Science Center dedicated to a series of dynamic and interactive activities related to astronomy and planet earth, with shows for visitors aged 3 years and over. age. located next to the Jerónimos Monastery, the Planetarium Calouste Gulbenkian is designed by the architect Frederico George. The Planetarium was opened on July 20, 1965. On July 19, 2005, a new projector was inaugurated with the capacity to represent more than nine thousand stars, the Milky Way or figures of the constellations. The projection room has a circular surface 23 meters in diameter. The main points of interest are the Gallery; the Observatory; and the Library.
10. MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology: is a space of contemporary architecture developed in Belém on the coast of the Tagus River, with the objective of presenting national and international exhibitions with the contribution of artists, contemporary architects and thinkers. The Museum was opened on October 5, 2016. The MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology is connected to Central-Tejo (Electricity Museum) by a pedestrian bridge that serves as a viewpoint. The MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology is authored by Amanda Levete, is located on Avenida Brasília in Belém, with the Art Collection Fundação EDP which includes representations more than 250 artists.
Other Attractions to visit in Belém
- Palace and Museum of the Presidency
- Café Vela Latina
- Café In
- Cervejaria Portugália Espelho d’Água
- Clube Naval
- Belém River Station
- Stadium and Sports Complex of the Football Club “Os Belenenses”
- Champalimaud Foundation
- Gare Marítima da Rocha de Conde de Óbidos
- Jardim Afonso de Albuquerque
- Jardim das Oliveiras
- Jardim Ducla Soares
- Jardim Vasco da Gama
- Jardim Zona Ribeirinha
- Jardins Torre de Belém
- Jardim Tropical
- Monument to Overseas Fighters
- Berardo Collection Museum
- National Museum of Archeology
- Museum of Popular Art
- National Museum of Ethnology
- Palace of the Counts of Calheta
- Skate Park at Largo Luís Alves Miguel
- Picadeiro Real
The monuments of Belém
- Fort of Bom Sucesso (Battery of Bom Sucesso): located at Praça do Império, it was built in 1780 and designed by General Vallerée. The Forte do Bom Sucesso was restored in 1876 by the engineering captain Domingos Pinheiro Borges and the brigadier Filipe Folque.
- Ermida de São Jerónimo (Ermida do Restelo): located in Restelo, it was built in 1514 by Diogo de Boitaca. The main points of interest of the Ermida de São Jerónimo are: the Manueline-style door; the Three altars with Sevillian tiles; o Altar-mor; and the Tomb of Pina Manique, founder of Casa Pia de Lisboa.
- Cordoaria Nacional: The Royal Fábrica da Cordoaria was created with the objective of manufacturing nautical cables, sisal ropes, sails and flags for ships, transformed currently in an exhibition center located near the Belém Train Station, the Cordoaria Nacional integrates several exhibitions during the year, namely the Biennial Antiques Exhibition or the Dinosaurs Alive Exhibition. The building of Cordoaria Nacional was built in 1771 by orders of the Marquis of Pombal with a project by the architect Reinaldo Manuel dos Santos. The points of interest of Cordoaria Nacional are the Central portals of the north and south façades; and the Galeria do Torreão Nascente.
- National Archeology Museum: located next to the Jerónimos Monastery is the main archeology museum in Portugal. The National Archeology Museum was opened in 1893 by José Leite de Vasconcelos (1858-1941). The main highlights are:
- Loulé, Territories, Memories and Identities Exhibition: an important exhibition due to the Minutes of the Council of Loulé of 1384, the oldest Minutes of Portugal;
- Ethnography Collection from the National Museum of Archeology: it stands out for its ceramics, crafts and clothes used in the daily lives of the Portuguese of the 19th century;
- Sala do Tesouro: with emphasis on the archaic jewelery collections;
- Nucleus of Latin Epigraphy: the Santuário de Santo Miguel da Mota is the main reference of this sector of the museum;
- Collection of Metal Artifacts: presents the largest collection of classical sculpture in Portugal;
- Egyptian Antiquities Collection: presents more than 500 pieces from the History of Ancient Egypt.
- Museu de Marinha: located at one end of the Jerónimos Monastery, it is a museum that preserves and portrays the History of the Portuguese Navy from the Portuguese Discoveries to the present day. The Navy Museum was opened on 22 June 1863 by order of King Dom Luís I. The most relevant aspects of the museum are:
- Entrance to the Navy Museum: in this place are the statues of some of the most important figures of the Discoveries, namely Infante Dom Henrique, Diogo Cão, João de Santarém, Diogo Gomes, Pedro de Sintra, Gonçalves Zarco, Gil Eanes, Nuno Tristão;
- Permanent Exhibition of the Recreational Navy: an exhibition with the history of the first career of naval transport on the Tagus River in 1850 and the creation of the oldest naval club in the Iberian Peninsula in 1856 with the foundation of the Royal Naval Association;
- Permanent Exhibition of the Merchant Navy: an exhibition with the history of the first Portuguese shipping companies, namely the Empresa Insulana de Navegação and the Empresa Nacional de Navegação. The exposed historical period covers the 19th century, the First World War (1914-1918), the Second World War (1939-1945) and the second half of the 20th century;
- Permanent Exhibition of the Sala dos Descobrimentos: this room contains the various nautical instruments used during the Portuguese Discoveries, the Caravels and other ships;
- Permanent Exhibition of Royal Sandeels: are on display several ships of the Royal Family, namely the yacht Sirius, six eighteenth century sandeels and the 1780 royal brigantine;
- Hydroplane Santa Cruz: the hydroplane piloted by Gago Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral in 1922 on the First Crossing of the South Atlantic that connected Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro;
- Permanent Exhibition of the Big Sailboats: the ship Príncipe da Beira, the frigate Ulysses, the frigate Rainha de Portugal and the frigate Dom Fernando II and Glória are the main points of interest of this exposure.
- Monument to Overseas Combatants: located near the Fort of Bom Sucesso and the Belém Tower, the monument is a tribute to the combatants killed during the Overseas War (1961-1974). The Monument to Overseas Combatants was inaugurated on January 15, 1993, designed by architects Francisco José Ferreira Guedes de Carvalho, Helena Albuquerque and Sidónio Costa Cabral. The highlights are the Triangular portico; the exposed names of the Combatants killed in the Overseas War written on the walls of the Fort of Bom Sucesso; and the Chama da Pátria, which is always lit in symbolism of Portugal’s perpetuity.
- Monument to the First Aerial Crossing: located near the Belém Tower, the monument is a reproduction of the Santa Cruz hydroplane of the First Crossing of the South Atlantic. The Monument to the First Crossing Aérea was inaugurated on June 17, 1972, by José Joaquim Laranjeira Santos and António Rodrigues Fernandes.
- National Museum of Ethnology: is one of the main places for the study of Portuguese and World Anthropology, it has approximately 42 thousand objects from 380 cultures from 80 countries and the five continents of the planet. The National Museum of Ethnology was created in 1965 in temporary installations until in 1975 it moved to the current building located near Restelo. From 1990 he joined the Portuguese Museum Institute and officially designated himself as National Museum of Ethnology. The main points of interest are:
- Permanent Exhibitions: Wayang Kulit Theater in Bali, Franklin Vilas Boas with the eyes of Ernesto de Sousa, Playing and seriously, with dolls from southwest Angola, Music and Days, with Portuguese Popular Instruments, Matéria da Fala, with Pot Lids with Proverbs, A tala de Onor River, Animals as People, Masks and Puppets from Mali;
- Galleries of Rural Life: in this space are exposed agricultural implements and work instruments related to the old traditional Portuguese life;
- Galleries of the Amazon: depict the Amazon reserves;
- Library / Media Library: provides more than 20 thousand works in the areas of Ethnology, Anthropology and Museology;
- Michel Giacometti’s Sound Archive: integrates the archives on Portuguese Popular Music from each rural region of Portugal, namely on the Cante Alentejano.
- Museum of Popular Art: located close to Padrão dos Descobrimentos, the museum is organized in five permanent exhibition rooms, each one dedicated to a region of Portugal, namely Entre Douro e Minho, Trás-os-Montes, Algarve, Beiras, Estremadura and Alentejo. The Museum of Popular Art was inaugurated on June 15, 1948 and designed by António Reis Camelo and João Simões. The highlights of the Museum of Popular Art are the Sala do Entre Douro e Minho; the Sala do Alentejo; the Algarve Room; the Sala da Extremadura; the Sala das Beiras; the Trás-os-Montes Room.
- Museu da Eletricidade: is a museum dedicated to the theme of electricity in Portugal, located on Avenida Brasília next to the Tagus river and is integrated in the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) of the EDP Foundation (Energia de Portugal). The Electricity Museum was opened in 2006 in the old building of Central Tejo that produced electricity for the city of Lisbon. The Tejo Power Plant was built between 1914 and 1919. The main references of this power plant are:
- Main nucleus: with a permanent exhibition on the History of Central Tejo;
- Energy Sources: a space with temporary exhibitions dedicated to various energy sources, namely renewable energy;
- Nucleo Experimentando: where it is possible to experiment and know some electrical phenomena.
- Museum of Underwater Life and Submerged History: a museum opened in 1953 with the aim of investigating three areas: the Marine Biology, the History of Immersion and Archeology of the Aquatic Environment. Currently preserves and disseminates the underwater heritage and also offers several services, namely recreational and technical diving, apnea and filling with air, nitrox, oxygen and trimix. The Museum of Underwater Life and Submerged History is located near Restelo, integrates the Portuguese Center for Underwater Activities, with points of interest related to the Núcleo Vida Submarina; and the Submerged History Nucleus.
- Alto do Duque Fort: was built between 1875 and 1890 with Monsanto’s defensive system, is located between Restelo and Monsanto Forest Park, providing a unique landscape over the river Tejo, Belém and Algés. It was at Alto do Duque Fort that the first wireless telephone connection (TSF) was made in Portugal on April 17, 1901 and served as headquarters for the Continental Operational Command (COpCon ) during the April 25, 1974 Revolution.
Green spaces in Belém
- Parque Recreativo dos Moinhos de Santana: located between the district of Ajuda and Restelo, it stands out for the presence of two windmills. The park was opened in 1997. The main points of interest of the Parque Recreativo dos Moinhos de Santana are: the view over Lisbon and the Tagus river; the Moinhos de Santana built in the 18th century for the Irish Dominican nuns of the Bom Sucesso Convent in the Serra de Monsanto. The mills were responsible for grinding the flour that supplied Lisbon; the restaurant; the picnic area; the playground; o Skating rink; the skate park; the maintenance circuit; the open-air Amphitheater; and the bandstand.
- Tropical Botanical Garden: located near the Jerónimos Monastery has an area of approximately seven hectares. The Tropical Botanical Garden was opened on January 25, 1906. The Tropical Botanical Garden Park and Greenhouses include approximately 600 species from all regions of the planet, namely tropical and subtropical flora. The Tropical Botanical Garden is open to the public every day. The main points of interest of the Tropical Botanical Garden are:
- Butterfly: created with the objective of studying, creating and developing butterfly species;
- Estufa Real: created in the 18th century, includes a green space of three hectares;
- Palace of the Counts of Calheta: built in the 18th century by Dom João Gonçalves da Câmara, IV Count of Calheta, and purchased by King Dom João V. The Palace performed several functions, namely Colonial Agricultural Museum, colonial section of the Portuguese World Exhibition in 1940. Currently it is part of the Documentation Center. The highlights of the Palácio dos Condes da Calheta are the various tile panels that depict hunting scenes and the various rooms in the palace.
Options for traveling from the center of Lisbon to Belém
There are many easy options for traveling directly to Belém from the center of Lisbon. Belém is approximately seven kilometers from the center of Lisbon. From Praça do Comércio, you can travel on the Tram 15E, on a direct route. Traveling by bus, numbers 704 or 728, or by train from Cais do Sodré. There is also the option of doing the 7 kilometer coastal route by walking or by bicycle, on one of the various shared bicycle services. A good option may be to buy the Lisboa Card, a transport card that includes admission to museums, a free map and a travel guide. It is possible to buy the Lisboa Card at Lisbon Airport, at Foz Palace in Restauradores, at Santa Apolónia Station, at Praça do Comércio, at Rua Augusta and in Belém.
Brief history of Belém
Belém grew up from the village of Restelo. It was from Belém that several expeditions carried out during the Portuguese Discoveries, namely the expedition of the Conquest of Ceuta in 1415, the expedition of Vasco da Gama, who discovered the Maritime Way to India in 1498 or the expedition of the discovery of Brazil by Pedro Álvares Cabral in the year 1500. The neighborhood of Belém resisted the Earthquake of November 1, 1755, and was consequently chosen as a place of residence for the Royal Family. In the 19th century it had a great growth due to the appearance of the train and was elevated to the municipality with Alexandre Herculano as president. In 1940 the Exhibition of the Portuguese World was organized in Belém, and from this exhibition Belém inherited the Belém River Station, the Museum of Popular Art, the Water Mirror and the Monument to the Discoveries. In the 20th century, the Central-Tejo, the current Electricity Museum, was inaugurated to supply Lisbon with electricity from 1909, and the first aerial crossing of the South Atlantic between Lisbon and Rio de Janeiro carried out by Gago Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral in 1922 .
The main streets of Belém
The most important arteries of Belém are rua de Belém, rua Vieira Portuense, rua dos Jerónimos, Calçada do Galvão and the Avenida do Restelo. Rua de Belém is an area of local commerce and culture, where we can visit the Pastéis de Belém Factory, the National Palace of Belém, the Museum of the Presidency of the Republic, the Museum Nacional dos Coches and Praça Afonso de Albuquerque. Vieira Portuense Street has as main points of interest the fishermen’s houses that until the 19th century were bathed by the Tagus River, and currently transformed into restaurants with a terrace where you can try the typical Portuguese cuisine. On the street dos Jerónimos there is the Jerónimos Monastery, the Casa-Pia da Correção da Corte building, the Os Belenenses football stadium, the Santo Cristo Chapel and the Ministry of Defense building. Calçada do Galvão connects Belém and Ajuda, the main attraction is the Jardim-Museu Agrícola Tropical. Avenida do Restelo is known for being a quiet residential area of houses and embassies.
- Rua de Belém is one of the busiest streets in Belém, with a connection between Praça do Império and Rua da Junqueira. Rua de Belém, formerly Direita de Belém Street, is a wide and open street, where you can see thousands of people from all over the world, trams, restaurants, cafes, traditional shops and restaurants historic sites. Rua de Belém has several attractions, namely:
- Picadeiro Real, former Car Museum (Museu dos Coches);
- Palace of the President of the Republic;
- Museum of the Presidency;
- Jardim Afonso Albuquerque;
- Pastéis de Belém.
- Rua da Junqueira is the street of palaces and Nobreza, with a connection between Rua de Belém and Rua Primeiro de Maio. Rua da Junqueira acquired this name due to the presence of reeds, a species of plants that is born in flooded and swampy areas, due to the presence of the Rio Seco that existed here in the 13th century. Rua da Junqueira is a noble, spacious street, with pink palaces with gardens and brightly colored tiles. This street is busy during the day, with Tram 15 that connects Praça do Império and Largo Martim Moniz. Rua da Junqueira has the following points of interest:
- Museum of Cars (Museu dos Coches);
- Library of Belém (Biblioteca de Belém);
- Lusíada University (Universidade Lusíada);
- Chafariz da Junqueira (Chafariz da Junqueira);
- Central Library of the Navy (Biblioteca Central da Marinha);
- Embassy of Malta (Embaixada de Malta);
- Hospital Egas Moniz (Hospital Egas Moniz);
- Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (Instituto de Higiene e Medcina Tropical);
- Lisbon Congress Center (Centro de Congressos de Lisboa);
- Paláco Burnay (Palácio Burnay);
- Palace of the Counts of Ribeira Grande (Palácio dos Condes da Ribeira Grande);
- Macao Scientific and Cultural Center (Centro Científico e Cultural de Macau);
- Macao Scientific and Cultural Center Library (Biblioteca do Centro Cientifico e Cultural de Macau).
- Avenida Brasília is a communication path parallel to the Tagus River and the railway line that starts at Cais do Sodré in Lisbon, with a connection between CRIL and Avenida Infante Santo, and I finish in Cascais. Avenida Brasília acquired this designation in 1960, the year of the inauguration of the city of Brasília as the capital of Brazil. Avenida Brasilia is a roadway with gardens, parks, restaurants and monuments, on the sides that allow you to walk, exercise, and experience the many attractions. Along the Avenida Brasília there are some relevant points, namely:
- Champalimaud Foundation (Fundação Champalimaud);
- Anna Sommer Garden (Jardim Anna Sommer);
- Forte do Bom Sucesso (Forte do Bom Sucesso);
- Monument to Overseas Combatant (Monumento aos Combatentes do Ultrama)s
- Jardim da Torre de Belém (Jardim da Torre de Belém);
- Belém Tower (Torre de Belém);
- Monument to Gago Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral (Monumento a Gago Coutinho e Sacadura Cabral);
- Doca do Bom Sucesso (Doca do Bom Sucesso);
- Garden of Japan (Jardim do Japão);
- Museum of Popular Art (Museu de Arte Popular);
- Portugália Cervejaria de Belém (Portugália Cervejaria de Belém);
- Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos);
- wind rose (Rosa dos Ventos);
- Doca de Belém (Doca de Belém);
- Belém Fluvial Station (Estação Fluvial de Belém);
- Electricity Museum (Museu da Eletricidade);
- MAAT- Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT- Museu de Arte, Arquitetura e Tecnologia);
- Jardim Docas da Ponte (Jardim Docas da Ponte);
- Doca de Santo Amaro (Doca de Santo Amaro);
- Alfândega Marítima de Lisboa (Alfândega Marítima de Lisboa);
- Museum of the Orient (Museu do Oriente).
Rua de Pedrouços is an interior street in the Belém neighborhood with a connection between Rua Damião de Góis and Rua Bartolomeu Dias. Rua de Pedrouços is an essentially residential street, quiet, safe and very wooded, which allows shade along the road, with points of interest in the Instituto Universitário Militar; and the Chafariz of the Princess.
Curiosities of Belém
- Tram 15E comes and goes from Belém to Praça do Comércio approximately every fifteen minutes;
- Belém was an area little affected by the Earthquake of 1 November 1755, which caused the Royal Family to move to this Lisbon neighborhood;
- The municipality of Belém was created on September 11, 1852;
- The first mayor of the municipality of Belém was the historian Alexandre Herculano;
- Belém was the Exhibition of the Portuguese World;
- Pastéis de Belém are considered one of the Seven Wonders of Gastronomy in Portugal.
Quick facts about Belém
- Belém has approximately 17 thousand inhabitants;
- The main sector of economic activity is tourism;
- It is a popular place for young families with children to live;
- It presents a great balance between tranquility, security and quality of life.
- Centro Helen Keller
- Colégio As Descobertas
- Colégio Bola de Neve
- Colégio do Bom Sucesso
- Colégio Jacob Rodrigues Pereira
- Colégio Mira Rio
- Externato de São Francisco Xavier
- Externato de São José
- Park International School
- Lusíada University
- Hospital São Francisco Xavier
- USF Descobertas
- Altis de Belém Hotel & Spa
- Palácio do Governador
- Hotel Jerónimos8
Transport and Access
- Belém Train Station
- Lisbon Trams:
- Number 15
- Number 18
Location of the Parish of Belém on the map of Lisbon
[custom-related-posts title=”Visit other places near Belém” none_text=”…in update” order_by=”title” order=”ASC”]