BELÉM – WHAT TO SEE, ITINERARY, AND TIPS!!
If you’re planning to visit Lisbon, then Belém is a must-see destination. Besides being a tourist hotspot with various monuments, museums, and breathtaking landscapes, Belém is also home to the famous “Pasteis de Belém” (Belém pastries).
The Pasteis de Belém originated in the early 19th century when, following a liberal revolution, all convents in Portugal were closed. To survive, someone from the monastery began selling cakes called Pasteis de Belém. Since then, these pastries have become an icon of Lisbon and Portugal.
While you can taste these delicious pastries in many places in Lisbon, the bakery that holds the brand is located on Rua de Belém, No. 84 to 92. It’s situated between the Belém Palace and the Jerónimos Monastery, both of which are also worth a visit. Now, with your mouth watering and eager to explore Belém, below we present the must-visit points and everything you need to know about them!
Belém National Palace: Since the establishment of the Republic, the Belém National Palace has been the official residence of the President of Portugal. The solemn changing of the Republican National Guard ceremony takes place on the third Sunday of each month at 11:00 am. It’s also possible to visit the Presidential Museum of the Republic every day, from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. On weekends, there’s a break from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm. The regular ticket costs 2.5 euros and is free on Sundays and holidays until 1:00 pm.
Jerónimos Monastery: Near the Belém National Palace is the Jerónimos Monastery. The monastery was built in the 16th century and was donated to the Hieronymus monks, who remained until the second quarter of the 19th century. The elaborate decoration of the South Portal is the highlight of the Manueline-style church. In addition to the church, the monastic complex also includes a 16th-century cloister, the former monks’ refectory, and the old library. It is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Belém Tower: Belém Tower is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. Built in the 16th century as a defense system, it is strategically located by the river. Both UNESCO World Heritage sites could be visited from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm. The standard ticket for the monastery costs 10 euros, and for the tower, it’s 6 euros. For residents in Portugal, the visit to these sites is free every Sunday and holidays until 2:00 pm. Furthermore, admission is free on other days, such as International Day for Monuments and Sites (April 18) or International Museum Day (May 18). Tickets can be purchased on-site or online.
Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos): Belém Tower served as a departure and arrival point for Portuguese explorers, and it was in their memory that the Monument to the Discoveries was built. It was first constructed in 1940 as a temporary structure for the Portuguese World Exhibition and was rebuilt for permanence in 1960. You can visit the exhibition, watch a film, and enjoy a beautiful view of Lisbon from the top of the building for 6 euros (tickets can be purchased online). It’s open every day from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (October to February) or from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm (March to September).
Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology (MAAT): MAAT consists of two very different buildings. One is the Central Tejo, a reconstructed power station and an iconic example of industrial architecture originally built in 1908. The other is a very modern building dedicated to promoting critical discourse and creative practice. Entry to both buildings costs 9 euros and is free on the first Sunday of each month. MAAT is open from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm and is closed on Tuesdays.
Cultural Center of Belém (CCB): Like MAAT, CCB aims to foster creativity and culture. It features different spaces for enjoying performances, architectural exhibitions, or performing arts. There is also the Berardo Collection Museum, a museum of modern and contemporary art that is open every day from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. The entry fee is 5 euros, but you can visit for free every Saturday and on International Museum Day.
National Coach Museum: This museum houses a unique collection of carriages from the 16th to the 19th centuries, mostly from the Portuguese Royal Family. It’s open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. The regular ticket costs 8 euros, but for residents in Portugal, it’s free every Sunday until 2:00 pm.
Quake Museum: Would you like to know more about the earthquake that devastated Lisbon in 1755? In this museum, you can walk through the streets of the vanished city and feel the sensation of the earthquake. The entire visit lasts an hour and forty minutes and costs between 21 and 31 euros, depending on the time, day, and season. Tickets can be purchased on the website and also at the Quake reception. Take advantage of a 10% discount when booking in advance, up to the day before the visit. It’s open for visits from 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm, from Tuesday to Thursday. If you prefer to go in the morning, from Friday to Monday, it opens at 10:00 am.
How to Get to Belém? The easiest way to get to Belém from Lisbon or Cascais is by train. The Cascais – Cais do Sodré line has a stop in Belém, and trains run every 20 minutes. You can also get there by bus or tram, with several lines connecting Belém to the center of Lisbon and other parts of the city. There’s also the option of arriving by boat. On the other side of the Tagus River, there’s a boat service between Porto Brandão / Trafaria and Belém.
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