This monastry started to be built in 1501 but it was only concluded 100 years after. It has mix of architectonic elements and styles and is one of Lisbon’s landmarks. It also was considered UNESCO’s cultural heritage.
Located in Belém this is a place that cannot be missed because of its magnitude and beauty. You can visit every day from 10 am to 6.3 pm from May to September and to 5.3 p.m from October to April.
Individual Ticket 7€
Combined with Belém Tower (I recommend): 10€
The monastery is FREE every Sunday from 10 am to 2 pm and in every public holiday!
Bus: 727, 28, 729, 714 e 751
Note: Some buses don’t run on weekend or holidays.
Padrão dos Descobrimentos.
This about 50 m high monument celebrates, as said by its name, the Portuguese who took part in some way to the age of discoveries. It was built in 1960 for the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator and is located in the quite agreeable Belém surroundings of the gardens between the monastery and the river. The monument is typical of some romantic idealisation of the Portuguese history under Salazar.
The head figure holding a ship in hands is Prince Henri the Navigator.
I had always much admiration and sympathy for Infante Dom Henrique who was the initiator and promoter of many discoveries but never navigated by himself.
It is thought that Henry started the Portuguese school of cartography.
Behind him are represented 30 personalities of which best known are the great navigators and discoverers: Vasco da Gama who discovered the sea route to India, Bartholomeu Dias who proved that Africa could be circumnavigated when he reached the Cape of Good Hope and Ferdinand Magellan first to circumnavigate the globe passing from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean by the Strait he discovered immediately south of mainland Chile.
There was an irreverencious joke about this monument: "don't push in the queue!"
Open: all days 10 - 19 h May to September
From Tuesday to Sunday 10 - 18 h October to April
Price (2012): 3 €; 2 € for 12 - 18 yr, students & seniors.
Free: 12 yr.
The symbol of Lisbon, but at 6 km from the centre, is the most photographed monument of the city.
This imposing tower and bastion defending the entrance to the Tagus and combining firepower with the St Sebastian tower on the other bank of the river was constructed between 1515 and 1521 by military architect Francisco de Arruda. The tower was built on a basalt island but is now nearly swallowed up by the river bank.
The tower shows two parts, the bastion with the canons, and the five-story tower.
What surprises for this military construction is the large amount of decoration.
There are some Moorish decorative elements but the typical Manueline motifs like the armillary sphere (a spherical astrolabe) the cross of the Order of Christ (of which king Manuel I was a member), twisted ropes, and other features typical of the Manueline style, also found on the nearby Monastery of the Jerónimos, dominate.
Famous among these decorations is a rhinoceros, the first stone statue of the animal in Europe.
Because of all these decorations, arched windows and balconies, the Tower of Belem has been compared to the bow of a caravel.
We did not visit the inside, we read that the visit was not so interesting.
Open :October to April from 10.00 to 17.30 h
May to September from10.00 to 18.30 h
Closed: Mondays and January 1st, Easter Sunday, May 1 and December 25
Price (2012): 5 €, reduced 2,50 €
If you have plenty of time (and kids) The Planetarium, right beside the Jerónimos Monastery, may justify your visit.
Recreating the sky at night, their several sessions, presented in Portuguese, English and French, will tell you more about 'The solar system', 'The moon', 'The evolution of the stars", 'The movement of the earth', ' Earth - Planet Alive', 'The universe', 'The sun', 'The constellations' and many others. You just have to choose the schedulled program.
Still with time? Good. The horse-drawn vehicles Museum (Museu Nacional dos Coches), right beside the Presidential Palace (a beauty from the 18th century, but closed to our eyes for natural reasons), has the best collections of classical vehicles in the world.
Showing several ceremonial vehicles used by the European courts, from the 17th to the late 19th century, it is one of the most visited museums in Portugal, and… with justice.
More time? National Archaeology Museum (Museu Nacional de Arqueologia), in the monastery, Navy Museum (Museu da Marinha), nearby, and Popular Art Museum (Museu de Arte Popular) in the buildings from the 1940’s exhibition also deserve your attention.
The Monument to the Discoveries was inaugurated in 1960 during celebrations of the 500 year anniversary of Infant D. Henrique (Henry the Navigator)'s death.
It evokes the maritime discoveries, and reproduces a model that was used in the 1940’s exhibition. With the shape of a caravel, it is headed by Henry the Navigator with the company of most of the historical Portuguese figures.
From the top, which you can access by elevator located inside the building, you have a magnificent view of the area, having at your feet the compass in paved stone offered by the Republic of South Africa, in 1960, to the celebration, and that between galleons and mermaids, shows the routes of the Portuguese discoverers.
Belém Tower was built in 1515, by order of king Manuel I according to the defense plan of the Tagus’s estuary decided by his antecessor, King João II.
The tower is replete with Manueline decoration, with crosses of the Military Order of Christ and some naturalistic elements such as the rhinoceros, said to be the first such representation in stone known in Europe.
If you have time you may go inside and up to the top, but if you are in a rush than maybe you’d better save your time for another highlight of the area –the monastery on the top of all.
Jeronimos is a wonderful monastery, build in the 16th century, to celebrate the discoveries and to be the king Manuel I’s burial monument.
It took all the century to be built, and houses the tombs of the king and his sons. It is one of the best examples of Manueline architecture (the other "super" examples are Batalha and Tomar, with the famous window), a Portuguese style in transition between gothic and renaissance, making use of nautical decorations, and that took the king’s name. The church and mainly the cloisters are splendorous.
In the main corps you can also see the tombs of Vasco da Gama and Camões, transferred there about 50 years ago.
If you have, at least, one day in Lisbon, Belem is one of the things you shouldn't miss. You may build your own program, from a couple of hours till one or more days.
Supposing that you will have only half day, then you can only have a glimpse of the ensemble of the Praça do Imperio, visit the Tower and Jeronimos. The area is still keeping the look won in 1940, when the political regime tried to make an impressive exhibition to hide the colonial nature of our possessions in Africa and Asia, spreading the idea of a multiracial, multicultural, and universal country.
The gardens and some buildings were kept. For instance, the Popular Art Museum (Museu de Arte Popular) and the restaurant in the artificial lake (Espelho de Agua) were part of the exhibition. But the real gems of Belem come from history, with Jeronimos and the Tower on top.
Torre de Belém (the Tower of Belém) was erected in 1520 - and original built as a lighthouse and part of the defensive fortress for the city. It is located in the Belém neighbourhood – not far from where the caravels (an old Portuguese sailing ship) once set out across the sea, and today Torre de Belém is considered a monument to Portugal’s Age of Discovery.
I only had a look at the beautiful 4-storey high tower from the outside. It is designed in the beautiful Manueline style, which is a unique combination of Gothic, Renaissance, and Moorish architecture. It contains many maritime elements and representations of discoveries brought home from the many Portuguese sea voyages.
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