JUL 17,2014 - JUL 17,2014 (1 DAYS)
Main attractions: Tram 15, Praça Afonso de Albuquerque, Belém Palace (Palácio Nacional Da Ajuda), Praça do Império, Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos), Belém Tower (Torre de Belém), Museu de Combatente, Centro Cultural de Belém e Forte do Bom Sucesso, Belém's Museu Colecção Berardo, Museu De Marinha (MARITIME MUSEUM), Igreja de Santa Maria de Belem, Antiga Confeitaria de Belém – Pasteis de Belem Café - Part 1.
Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos), Museu Nacional dos Coches - part 2.
Duration: 1 busy day (visiting the interiors of most or part of Belem attractions). 1/2 day - without visiting the interiors. Tip: Arrive to Jerónimos Monastery around 14.00 - 16.00. During the morning hours - there is a long queue there. In case you decide to visit the interiors of the Monastery and the Berardo Museum - allow 1 full day and start early !!!
Start & End: Figueira Square ("Praça da Figueira") or Comercio Square ("Praça do Comércio").
Distance (both parts, all Belém attractions): 3-4 km. (without the Belém Palace), 6-7 km. (with the Belém Palace).
Lisbon's most monumental and historical area is Belém. It was from here that many of the great Portuguese explorers embarked on their voyages of discovery: Prince Henry the Navigator and the first overseas expedition to conquer Ceuta in Morocco, Bartholomeu Dias to round the Cape of Good Hope, the first voyages of Ferdinand Magellan, Vasco da Gama to discover the sea route to India, and Christopher Columbus stopped here on his way back to Europe after discovering the New World. Belém is recognized for its concentration of national monuments and public spaces, including a mixture of historical buildings and modern symbols of Portuguese culture. The Discoveries Monument During this time Lisbon flourished with riches pouring into Portugal and saw the construction of great monuments like the Belem Tower and Jeronimos Monastery. Today these monuments and their surrounding museums are must-see atrractions for any visitor. Belem's attractions warrant a full-day visit. We sketch an itinerary for half-day only. Don't go on a Monday, when many of the sites are closed. Located on the mouth of the Tagus River it is located 6 kilometres west of the city centre and 2 kilometres west of Ponte 25 de Abril (25th of April Bridge). Its name is derived from the Portuguese word for Bethlehem.
To get to Belem from Lisbon, you will need to take either tram 15 or tram 127 from the downtown area’s Figueira Square ("Praça da Figueira") or Comercio Square ("Praça do Comércio"). I recommend taking the tram from the Figueira squre. Tram 15 runs regularly and takes about 25 minutes to get from Placa da Figueria to the stop for Belem. Tram 15 (destination: Alges) is the best way to reach Belem from downtown. You can hop on 15 either at Figueira Square or Comercio Square (getting off by Jeronimos Monastery). The stop at the Comercio square is quite crowded - so, find shelter (from the sun) under the bus-stop roof in front (cross the street). The tram #15 wagons are air-conditioned and quite modern. You can catch it outside Cais do Sodre railway station as well, but I wouldn't advise that unless you are staying nearby. Usually, there are tens of people waiting at Cais do Sodre (cruise ships porting there) and the chances of you getting on a tram within one hour are nil even though people are crammed on like sardines. Do take care on the tram. All crowded situations are prime hunting ground for pickpockets and tram 15, with its continual loads of tourists, is a favourite spot. Keep cash and cards safely underneath your clothing, never ever in your pockets or bum-bags/fanny-packs, and hold your bag firmly in your arms. The same applies while you are queuing at the bus stop. Don't stand with your daypack facing the road which runs parallel to the tram tracks. Get off at the stop marked Belém (the best) or the next one called Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. A single ticket can be purchased on board the tram costs €2.85, the ticket machines do not accept bank notes and frequently run out of change. A single ticket price is reduced to €1.40 if a pre-paid Viva Viagem ticket is used, these can be purchased from any metro station. A one-day travel pass for all of the public transport in Lisbon costs €6.00. As this is the busiest tram service of Lisbon the trams start early and continue well into the night. The first service departs at 05.00 and the last departure is at 01.00, there are between 4-6 services an hour. Delays are frequent in rush times. The Lisbon tram 15 route also passes the trendy Santo Amaro docks. These old warehouse have been converted into trend bars and restaurants that over look the suspension bridge, River Tejo and marina. The docks area and is served by the Avenue Infante Santo stop which is 11 minutes from Praca do Comercio.
Another option is the train. Belem's small train station can be found on the Cascais Line that runs between Lisbon's Cais de Sodre train station and Cascais train station. This line is very scenic and many of Belem's attractions (including the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos and the Monument to the Discoveries) can be seen from the train.
When travelling on this line, you should be aware that not all trains stop at Belem. If travelling from Cais de Sodre, you should board a train that stops at all stations to Cascais. These trains say 'TODAS' on the front to indicate that they are stopping at all stations between Cais de Sodre and Cascais.
Buses no. 28 or 43 depart from Praça da Figueira to Belém, again taking 15 minutes.
All means of transportaion cost (as of summer 2014) 1.40 euros.
Do not go to Belem on Mondays since that’s the day that: Jeronimos monastery, Belem Tower and the Monument to Discoveries are all closed.
We drop the Tram #15 at the 'Belem' stop. Belém's main street and historical avenue is Rua de Belém, a strip of 160-year buildings that have survived several years of change and modernization. This includes the famous pastry shop Fábrica de Pasteis de Belém known for a specific Portuguese confectionery: pastel de Belém (pastéis de Belém), an egg tart made with flaky pastry (see later). Five hundred metres to the east of Praça do Império lies Belém's other major square Praça Afonso de Albuquerque - this is the first park or garden we face. The site of the square used to be a harbour, built in 1753. In 1807, Queen Mary I, Prince John VI and the royal family fled Lisbon from this harbour to Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil, to escape the Napoleonic troops which had invaded Portugal. The square is located in front of Belém Palace, an early 18th-century palace that nowadays serves as residence for the President of Portugal. The square is named after the Second Governor of Portuguese India Afonso de Albuquerque, and offers the best views of Belém Palace. It has a beautiful monument, in neo-Manueline style, by artists Silva Pinto and Costa Mota tio, inaugurated in 1902. The monument carries a bronze statue of Afonso de Albuquerque and has interesting reliefs about his life:
To the southeast of the gardens is the Belém Palace (Palácio Nacional Da Ajuda) (1770), the official residence of the Portuguese President. It had, overtime, been the official residence of Portuguese monarchs and, after the installation of the First Republic, the Presidents of the Portuguese Republic. Located in the civil parish of Santa Maria de Belém, the palace is located on a small hill that fronts the Praça Afonso de Albuquerque, near the historical centre of Belém and the Monastery of the Jeronimos, close to the waterfront of the Tagus River. The five buildings that makeup the main façade of the Palace date back to the second half of the 17th century, and were built at a time when, more and more, the monarchy and nobility were escaping the urbanized confines of Lisbon. Access to the Palace is made from Rua de Belém at the main gate and ramp (guarded by military sentries). Open every day except wednesdays, 10.00 to 18.00. Closed every Wednesdays, 1st January, Easter Sunday, 1st May, 25th December. Admission charge 5 €
Admission free: First Sundays of the month (groups 12 pax max.), children under 14, teachers and students if in organized school visit, ICOM members, unemployed EU resident (documentation needed). 50% Discount: Students, Youth Card, + 65, families with children with more than 4 persons. Circuit Ticket 7,5 € Palacio Nacional da Ajuda and Museu Nacional dos Coches. Public transport: Bus and tram: 18, 729, 732, 742, 60
Estoril railway: Belém Station.
The Palace is quite distant from Rua de Belem (1.6 km. !). A view of the Palace of Belém from the main obelisk in Praça Afonso de Albuquerque:
A monument to assassinated monarch King Carlos of Portugal in front entrance to the Ajuda National Palace:
The eastern façade (and main entrance) to the Palácio Nacional da Ajuda:
The interior façade from the Palace courtyard looking towards the statue of King Carlos of Portugal:
The interior of the Green Room, used by the Queen for official duties:
The avant-garde Blue Room with visual affects that implied a greater grandeur:
Portrait of the Royal Family in the Green Room:
Red Room (Salinha Encarnada):
The Marble Room (known also as the Winter Garden or informally as the Egyptian room):
The Grand Dining room:
We continue/return with/to Rua de Belem along the gardens heading to the WEST.
In the heart of the parks area is Praça do Império, an avenue of open-spaces and gardens, with a central fountain, which was laid-out during World War II. The square commemorates the Portuguese Empire and was built for the Exhibition of the Portuguese World in 1940. This park has many pathways and a beautiful fountain that changes into several different forms over a few minutes and you could enjoy a walk or just sit and enjoy the sun, birds, vegetation and cute statues of horses.
Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) from Praça do Império:
From the parks/gardens - cross the Avenida Brasilia to the seafront to see:
Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos) - located on the edge of the Tagus' northern bank, this 52 metre-high slab of concrete, was erected in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator. The monument is sculpted in the form of a ship's prow, with dozens of figures from Portuguese history following a statue of the Infant Henry sculpted in base relief. Adjacent to the monument is a huge square in the form of a map, showing the routes of various Portuguese explorers, during the Age of Discovery. It is 52 meters tall and is shaped live a ship with historical Portuguese navigators standing at the prow. Inside is an exhibition and you can go up to the top to get a better look at Belem below. Opening hours: Daily 10.00 - 18.00, Closed on Mondays.
Rosa dos Ventos (Rose of Winds) square north to the Monument of Discveries:
Continue west along the seafront to:
Belém Tower (Torre de Belém) - constructed on the rocky outcropping/island along the northern margin of the Tagus River as part of a defensive system to protect access to the Tagus estuary envisioned by king John (Joao) II of Portugal. It is one of Belém's iconic symbols of the parish. Originally, the Tower of Saint Vincent (Torre de São Vicente), it was elaborated by Manuel I of Portugal (1515–1520) to guard the entrance to the port at Belém. It stood on a little island in right side of the Tagus, surrounded by water. Built in 1515, this Manueline style fortress served also the important purpose of being a starting point to much of the voyages the Portuguese made to places like the New World, India, and Japan. It is because of its significance that the Belem Tower has been honored as a UNESCO World Heritage monument. Its design is breathtaking. It has details such as stones that look like twisted rope, lots of balconies, domes, and the arched windows that are customary in the Manueline style. It is completely surrounded by water. You’ll need to cross a bridge to get to it. Opening hours: October-April 10.00 - 17.30, May-September 10.00 - 18.30. Closed on Mondays. Entrance fee: 6 euros. Combined tickets: Descobertas: Jerónimos Monastery /Tower of Belém: €12, Jeronimos: Mosteiro dos Jerónimos + Museu Nacional de Arqueologia: 12 €, Praça do Império: Jerónimos Monastery +Tower of Belém + Museu Nacional de Arqueologia: €16, Cais da História: Mosteiro dos Jerónimos + Torre de Belém + Museu Naciona de Arqueologia + Museu de Arte Popular + Museu Nacional de Etnologia + Museu dos Coches: 25 €:
Further west along the seashore, quite close to the Belem Tower is the Museu de Combatente. The main purpose of this Museum is the expression of the Portuguese military conquests, with a space reserved to divulgate the Portuguese military history, near the public in general and the combatants, through distinct museum references regarding time, matter and especially shape, from the First World War, the Overseas Campaigns and Peace Missions. Therefore, the Museum of Combatant honours the Combatants who served Portugal in the Overseas Campaigns, with the integration of the “Monument to the Honour of Overseas Combatants” in this space, since 1993. These two symbols – the Museum of Combatant and the “Monument to the Honour of Overseas Campaigns”, stands for the concepts of Culture, Citizenship and Defense. The two of them represent an end of a cycle in the Portuguese history – the End of the Empire, whose beginning is materialized in the same space by the Belem Tower. Outside the fort is a Military memorial and what one assumes is an eternal flame guarded by two soldiers. The museum is managed by the Portuguese equivalent of the British Legion and is housed in an 18th century fort, which at one time was directly attached to the tower and provided protection for old Lisbon from attacks from the river Tagus. Open every day, including weekends, and holidays. From 10.00 until 17.00 (Oct-March), from 10.00 until 18.00 (April-Sept). Prices: 3€ (adults), 2€ (children with seven years old and up, pensioners and groups), free entry (for members of the Combatants League and leaders of groups on guided tours):
From here we go back eastward. Find the upper bridge (over Avenida Barasilia and the railway track) and walk east along Rua Bartolomeu Dias to arrive to: the Centro Cultural de Belém e Forte do Bom Sucesso, built in 1992 during Portugal's term in the revolving role at the helm of the European Union presidency. The Belém Cultural Centre, also known as CCB, affords three functions, a congress centre, a concert hall complex and an exhibition centre. The building also has several shops, a restaurant and two bars. The concert hall complex has three halls that are equipped to house different kinds of shows, from ballet to cinema. The exhibition centre houses the Berardo?s Foundation modern and contemporary art collection (Fundação de Arte Moderna e Contemporânea - Museu colecção Berardo) since 2007. The temporary exhibitions vary what they have on show, from sculptures, to architecture, to design, photography and installations:
It is now an arts complex, containing Belém's Museu Colecção Berardo - a brand new museum of modern and contemporary art. Admission is free. To visit some of the temporary exhibitions it may be necessary to purchase a ticket. Opening times: Tuesday - Sunday
10.00-19.00 (last admission: 18.30), 24 December 10.00-14.30 (last admission: 14.00), 25 December Closed, 31 December 10.00-14.30 (last admission: 14.00), 1 January 12.00-19.00 (last admission: 18.30). The museum has an extensive permanent collection, but it is also the host of various temporary exhibitions that change on a regular basis. It is an extensive museum and FREE. For modern art lovers - even 2-3 hours won't suffice. A vast collection showcasing some of the biggest names in art: Picasso, Warhol, Pollack, Abstract and Expressionist works. It is rare opportunity to see so much at one place. GOOD ASIAN-EUROPEAN RESTAURANT WITH REASONABLE PRICES.
DO NOT MISS the Museum's gardens. Stunning views of the river (from vey limited and specif hidden points....:
Stunning views also of the Maritime Museum and the Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos):
You can exit from the back side of the museum, through its garden to Rua Bartolomeu Dias and to the Museu De Marinha (MARITIME MUSEUM) in the Praca do Imperio. Opening hours: From 10.00 to 17.00 (01 Oct - 30 Apr), from 10.00 to 18.00 (01 May - 30 Sep). Prices: Adults 6,00€, seniors 65+ 3,00€, students 3,00€, children 12 - 18: 3,00€.
The church Igreja de Santa Maria de Belem is adjacent to the Jeronimos Monastery. You can enter it first - since it it in the western part of the monastery. It features many details embedded in its walls. It contains the tombs of Vasco da Gama and Luís de Camões. Absolutely not to be missed! Very beautiful both externally and internally:
The ornate Manueline south portal by João de Castilho:
Tomb of Luis Vaz de Camoes:
Tomb of Vasco de Gama:
Royal tombs in the main chapel. Each sarcophagus is held by two elephants:
The Nave and Apse:
Belém is home to a number of other museums: Museu da Electricidade (Electricity Museum), Museu do Centro Científico e Cultural de Macau (Macau Cultural Museum), Museu de Arte Popular (Folk Art Museum), Museu Nacional dos Coches (Coach Museum), and Museu da Presidência da República (Presidential Museum).
Antiga Confeitaria de Belém – Pasteis de Belem Café: A trip to Belem is not complete without stopping at Antiga Confeitaria de Belém. This is a very large cafe-confectionery with several rooms. Some of these are decorated with Azulejos (blue tiles). It’s one of those things that everyone does while visiting the district. They produce about 14,000 of these sweets per day and the café is obviously very popular. You won’t wait more than half an hour until your order gets taken. You can either take-away the pasties or you can eat inside, in the latter case you’ll be taken to a seating area in the back which is very spacious. Soon after you place your order, your warm, straight out of the oven custard tart will be served. Traditionally, these pastries are sprinkled with “canela” or cinnamon and powdered sugar. If you order the pastries to go, they’ll be given to you in a beautiful tube box decorated with a traditional Portuguese design. Café Pastéis de Belém has been specializing in these treats since year 1837 ! These pastries are served warm and sprinkled with cinnamon and/or sugar (if you like). Their original receipt is kept secret. Only three persons knows it. This sweet is believed was created before the 18th century by the nuns at the Monastery of Jerònimos. Antiga Confeitaria de Belèm was the first place selling these tarts since 1837. In this year the baking of the 'Pasteis de Belém' has begun in buildings joined to the refinery, following the ancient 'secret recipe' from the monastery. Passed on and known exclusively to the master confectioners who hand-crafted the pastries in the 'secrets room', this recipe remained unchanged to the present day. In fact, the only true 'Pasteis de Belém' contrive, by means of a scrupulous selection of ingredients, to offer even today the flavour of the time-honoured Portuguese sweet making.
Opening hours: June 1st – September 30th 8.00 – Midnight, October 1st – May 31st 08.00 – 23.00.
Now, move to Belém part 2 - Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) and the Museu Nacional dos Coches (the Carriages Museum).