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.
If you're in Lisbon for only a short time, head to the Belem district. The main monuments you should visit are here, including the city's top sight, the World Heritage Jeronimos Monastery. Pay close attention to the elaborate carvings of the cloisters and of the main portal on the facade (which you can see on the pictures on this tip), and inside you'll also find the tomb of explorer Vasco da Gama. This main picture was taken from the top of the Discoveries Monument across the street from the monastery, which you should also visit on the way to the other World Heritage monument in the city, the Belem Tower.
Most have already been said about this monument. It's made of concrete, its really big and its site leaves you with this sense of the glorious past of the city - you might know that these people existed and had achieved much, but to actually see their images in front of you gives you strong feelings.
You can take Tram 15 to stop Belem. The monument (as well as the Torre de Belem) is about 5 - 10 minutes walking from there and you pass to the other side of the street, towards the marina, taking an underground crossing. You reach the monument and choose background for your photos; from one side you'll have bridge Vasco da Gama from the other you'll have Torre de Belem.
You can go up to the top of the monument (by elevator) where you enjoy beauuutiful views around, to the Tagus river, the bridge, the Jeronimo's monastery and the whole Belem. You can go to the exhibitions of the basement (I hear these change). You can watch the audiovisual "show" on the history of Lisbon. Or you can do all of these. I decided to take all of these and I didn't regret it, I enjoyed very much the views and the show which is rather a short movie, pictures, music, history. So here is the story:
You wait on the queue. You go to the cashier's. Do you want only a ticket to the top or you are interested in the multimedia show as well. The price for both (includes the exhibitions of the basement, there was a painting exhibition when I visited) is just 1€ more than the show alone so it's like why not, give me both :)
They tell you when the next "show" begins: "you may go to the basement to see the art exhibition, you will be hearing music, when the music stops you should come upstairs", so you know when. In the basement there is also the WC but you must have your ears open for the music to stop, remember? He he - so the time comes, you go upstairs, there is this very pleasant guy who gives you the earphones with the player and shows you how to choose language and adjust the volume.
Then he says "at the beginning it will be just music, it takes about 40 seconds for the voice to start so don't worry if you hear nothing". And you end up waiting for this voice to start for about 5 minutes, wondering how long 40 seconds might last. And then you overhear some voices from the players of the others who have adjusted it loud, and then you just know that something is going wrong. And then you realize that the music is coming externally, while your earphones are not properly plugged in. You fool.
Ok I admitted I lost some of the part with Ulysses but I had all the rest which was beautiful. I felt proud of being in Lisbon in the end (they have the best marketing for their city in this movie ha).
I totally recommend it, do this!
One of the most popularized attraction and symbol of Lisbon, Torre de Belém (UNESCO World Heritage) is the former city's defense tower. It was built between 1515-1521 and back then it was standing on a small island, after the big earthquake in 1755 the water raised and now it is on a small bank, accessible by foot.
Torre de Belém is interesting to visit (against an entrance fee of course), at the basement there are the prison cells (creepy as one man can't stand but only in the place where the small window on the ceiling is that way the sun would have been directly on hid head), the bastion (the terrace) and the five-story tower itself.
The tower is 35 meters high and you have a very nice view from the top - there is a small terrace on the top. From one floor to another there is only a narrow spiral stairway - hardly can two persons can pass by each other when intersecting coming up/down, better wait until the other descends. Therefore the top of the tower is hard to access by older people or large persons.
The Discoverios Monument is on the bank of River Tagus and was built in in 1960 to honor the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator.
It has been designed in the shape of a caravel, on which Henry the Navigator, Vasco da Gama, Pedro Álvares Cabral (discoverer of Brazil ) and Fernão Magalhães crossed the Pacific in 1520 , The famous Portuguese writer Camões and many other relevant heroes of Portuguese history are shown,
The monument offers a fabulous view from the top. and there is a multimedia tour through the history of Lisbon.
Open every day except Mondays from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
A large symbol of the nautical Portuguese successes exploring the seas, close to the discoveries monument, has been drawn with colorful stones - the "Rosa dos Ventos".
Contrasting with the black in white of the typical Portuguese cobblestone pavement, this formation is better admired from the top of the adjacent monument.
Belém is the heart of the seafaring nation. Once Portuguese caravels were outward bound to discover the seas and new continents from the Restelo-harbour.
Today this history is omnipresent and the three most well-known sights of Lisbon are all situated in Belém.
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos:
The first impression you'll get is the gorgeous facade, but the former monastery has far more to offer than its exterior view. Inside you'll see the worth seeing minster and in the patio there is a cloister, one of the most beautiful Gothic monuments I've ever seen.
In the former dormitory there are two museeums, especially the Museu da Marinha is worth to visit, because you'll learn much about Portuguese seafaring history.
Padrão dos Descobrimentos:
This monument is build in the form of a ship and on its railings there are the statues of famous Portuguese people. At the top you'll find Henry the Navigator, behind him Vasco da Gama, and so on... Dwell a bit and think about the achievements of the pictured persons...
Torre de Belém:
Once this watchtower protected the harbour and the Tejo bay, today it is one of the most photographed motifs in Lisbon. You can go inside and look out the hatches and climb the tower, although I dissuade you. It is strenuous and you won't see much more than from the ground.
After viewing the Monument to the Discoveries, we headed to the picturesque Belem Tower, further along the riverbank.
The Belem Tower is a UNESCO World Heritage Monument, recognised as a monument to Portugals grand Age of Discovery, and a symbol of Portugal.
UNESCO states '"It is a reminder of the great maritime discoveries that laid the foundations of the modern world."
Here, was the starting point for many of the voyages of discovery, and poignantly, for the sailors, it was the last sight of their homeland.
Sailors today, can cast their eyes on the statue that faces the river, of 'Our Lady of Safe Homecoming', long recognised as a symbol of protection for sailors on voyages.
The tower was constructed in 1515 as a fortress to guard the entrance to Lisbon's harbor. It was designed by an architect, Francisco de Arruda, whose design was influenced by the Moorish style of architecture, following time spent working in Morocco. An example of this can be seen in the watctowers. There is also a Venetian influence, in the arcaded windows and loggias.
Look too for symbols to the discoveries in the stonework, historical figures and even a rhinoceros!
Open - 10.00 -17.00 (Oct.-April), 10.00 -18.30 (May-Sept.), Closed Mondays.
Free Entrance to Lisboa card holders, otherwise 4 euros. No photography allowed inside.
We just contented ourselves with walking to the entrance gate - we were due to meet up with the rest of the group shortly, for pasteis!
Just a few meters west of the Tower of Belem, a monument inaugurated in 1994 celebrates the fighters in colonial war (about two hundred thousand and... me).
Surrounded by a long wall with the death's names, a modern formation pretends to be the symbol of the union among people.
OK! No problem. It's just beside the tower, can be seen in a glimpse, and, as a sample of modern architecture, it's better then the bunker called Cultural Center.
This modern complex is home to the Design museum as well as performance and exhibition spaces. The museum features 20th-century design. The courtyards and rooftop gardens make a great place to relax in between sightseeing.
This 16th-century monastery is one of the few surviving examples of medieval Manueline architecture (named after Manuel I and featuring naval motifs) and is listed along with the Torre de Belem as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also the resting place of Vasco da Gama and the nation most famous writer, Luis de Camoes.
One of the city's most famous sights is more impressive on the outside than it is on the inside. This white stone tower built in the early-16th century, to defend the river, was the last thing that the seafaring adventurers saw before setting off on their epic adventures. It is an excellent example of the Manueline style of architecture, with lovelly naval themes. A gangway leads to a very average museum within the tower.
If you want to discover more of Lisbon's naval history, you should definitely go to Belem. Lots of monuments remind of that past. Have a look at the Museu de Marinha (navy museum) to discover route maps, scale models of ships, nautical instruments, ... about Portugal's golden age. I's an absolute must!
The museum is in the eastern corner of the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos.
The Jerónimos Monastery is usually referred to as the “jewel” of the Manueline style. This exclusive Portuguese style combines architectural elements from the Gothic and from the Renaissance periods, joining them with a royal and naturalist symbology, that makes it unique and honourable.
In 1496, King D. Manuel I asked the Holy Sé for permission to build a large monastery on the banks of the river Tagus. The works started in 1501 and almost a century later everything was done. D. Manuel I and his descendants were buried in marble tombs located in the chancel of the church and in the transept lateral chapels.
Dedicating the monastery to the Belém Virgin was another factor that influenced the royal decision. The Jerónimos Monastery replaced the church of Saint Mary of Belém where monks of the Christ Order gave assistance to sailors passing through. For this reason, D. Manuel I chose the monks of the Saint Jerónimo Order whose functions were to pray for the soul of the king and give spiritual assistance to the sailors that left Praia do Restelo in discovery of new lands.
Because the monastery was built on the sand banks of the river Tagus, the great earthquake of 1755 had little effect on the structure.
In 1907 it was declared a National Monument and in 1984 it was classified “Cultural Heritage of all Humanity” by UNESCO.
If you have only a short time in Lisbon and want to see the iconic monuments, history and great architecture Belém is the place to go.
It is only about 4 miles from the city centre and can be reached very easily by public transport from the city centre.
It is a while ago now but I am sure I went on a Tram that stopped outside the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos - the great monastery with its church and chapels that Manuel 1st built to celebrate the safe return of Vasco da Gama in1499 from a two-year voyage on which the sea route to India was discovered.
In this compact,walkable area you can see the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos and its companion Watch Tower ( early 16th Century).
Together, these two buildings have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are amongst the few important buildings in Lisbon that were not damaged in the 1755 earthquake.
Walk along the Esplanade and you will very soon see the great memorial to the Portuguese explorers and discoverers . This limestone monument was erected in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator. The latter has proud of position at the prow, ahead of Vasco da Gama and other great navigators and sailors.
On the way you may follow, on foot, the flat map of the world embedded in the esplanade, which these brave, indomitable discoverers mapped and followed on their journey of discovery.
If, by then ,you feel in need of refreshment take a walk over to Rue de Belém and enjoy coffee with a custard tart at Antiga Confeitaria de Belém.
Whilst relaxing there also admire the beautiful tiles in this tradional local café.