Another gorgeous day of exploring Portugal!
Belém Tower is synonymous with Lisbon and Portugal. If you have browsed pictures of Lisbon you would have no doubt seen this 15th Century tower that sits on the bank of the Tagus River.
Attractions, museums, monasteries and defensive towers adorn the Lisbon neighborhood of Belém. Belém in Portuguese is known as the civil parish of Santa Maria de Belem. Belém along with a trip to Sintra are the most popular Lisbon day trips to make.
If you want to get to Belém from central Lisbon, I would recommend taking the train from Cais do Sodré, which is connected to the Lisbon Metro system. It leaves regularly and takes just nine minutes. Get off at Belém station and you can walk from there.
Monument to the Discoveries
From Belém train station, walk along the waterfront until you reach the Monument to the Discoveries. You won’t be able to miss it – it’s the enormous monument that rises up 183 ft. high from the side of the Tagus River.
The Monument to the Discoveries was opened in 1960 and is a tribute to the Portuguese Age of Discovery of the 15th and 16th centuries.
Along either side are sculptures of 32 historical figures from this period. At the peak is a 29 ft. statue of Henry the Navigator holding a model of a type of ship called a ‘carrack’.
We got lucky that there was no line as we purchased our tickets – since we came right before they were closing.
Belém Tower is an impressive building, surrounded by water in the Tagus River.
Construction started in 1514 on the tower that was designed primarily to be part of the defensive system – it has spots for cannons that could shoot at any enemy ships sailing towards Lisbon. But it was also a monument to the power of Portugal at the time.
The views from the different levels were amazing. Great pictures can be taken from the Loggia (balcony on the second floor) and the Bastions that look out on the river and the bank area. The inner cloister of Belém Tower Lisbon is very gothic in design with spires and carvings of biblical figures.
Casa Pasteis de Belém
Seeing that we were in Belém, we had to stop by the famous Casa Pasteis de Belém for some pastel de nata. This shop has been an institution in Belém since 1837 and was worth every penny for its delicious pastry.