A sunny afternoon in beautiful Belém

Yesterday our teacher Beatriz took us to Belém. Just a 20-minute tram ride away from Praça do Comércio you can find some of Lisbon's oldest sights. First, we visited the Santa Maria de Belém. The church and the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, dating back to the end of the 15th cenutry, are great examples of the Manueline style of architecture in Lisbon. King Manuel I, "the lucky one", ordered the monastery to be built to as a final resting-place for his family.

After that, we walked to the seaside to learn about the Padrao Dos Descobrimentos and a dark period in Portuguese history - the dictatorship under Salazar. In 1940, Portugal hosted the “Exposição do Mundo Português” in Belém. The exhibition was used as a propaganda tool to show “how great Portugal has been” and “how great it could be again” in reference to the golden age of expeditions and the Portuguese empire. Today, the gardens of the monastery and the Belém Cultural Center are located on the former exhibition site.

Walking along the water we approached one of Portugal's most distinct landmarks, the Torre de Belém. Construction began in 1514 and originally many more similar towers were planned to defend Portugal from the sea. However, only one tower remained completed. Today, the tower is close to the shore but back in time it was literally a fortress in the middle of the river. Soldiers would go to the tower by boat, live there for a certain period and wait for the change of guards.

At then end of the tour, we of course stopped by the Pastelaria of Belém. Everyone was a little tired and could not wait to enjoy the pastéis, but in the end we were all happy, as you can see in the picture below!

Posted on July 27, 2017 .