Olá from Lisbon!
Welcome to the district of Belém, let’s join us walking along the riverside to the Ponte 25 de Abril.
The first day in Lisbon we headed to Belém, a parish (or neighborhood) on the soutwestern part of Lisbon, to enjoy the gorgeous sunset right next to its famous military tower, which is a symbol of the European age of discoveries and of Portugal itself. The two most important monuments in this area are the Moasterio dos Jerónimos and the Torre de Belém, which are almost facing each other with a small green area between them.
Our first stop was culinary, we had to try the famous Pastéis de Belém, which are believed to be the first pastéis de nata in the country, dating back from 1837 and following the recipe from the monks at Moasterios dos Jerónimos. There’s always a line, but it’s so well organized that although it may look scary it goes by really fast. You can also try to get a table inside the old bakery. I have to admit hat I was a little bit disappointed by them, the puff pastry was very dry in comparison to other places like Fábrica da nata o Manteigaria that have just that perfect amount of crispiness, and the custard wasn’t something out of the ordinary. They are ok, but it would be totally fine to skip them.
Top (actually it’s a dress) Pull&Bear (similar)
Skirt c/o King Louie
The tower has a late medieval style, but the most striking thing is probably that it is built on an island in the river, which makes for a beautiful location. We read about its history while waiting for the sun to set, and one of the things that raised more our attention was the rhino story. The article explained that there is a sculpted rhino on the facade of the tower to homage a real rhino that was brought to Lisbon some time before the construction; the animal was a hit between Portuguese people since it was the first rhino they had been able to see in real life for 1000 years! We kind of expected a big rhino, so we looked and looked without luck, but then finally, next to the pebbles, we found the rhino head, like a gargoyle on the tower! Can you spot the rhino in our pictures?
During sunset we rushed towards the MAAT (Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology) to be able to watch the Ponte 25 de Abril from there. Look at those pink colors, it was completely amazing! The MAAT has a free access to its top terrace using an architectonical beam which is very interesting, like a wave next to the river. The Ponte 25 de Abril is another landmark of Lisbon, and it’s so fun to see how similar to the Golden Gate it is, right? In a smaller scale, of course! The last curiosity of is that you can see a monument to Christ the King built on the late 50s taking the Christ the Redeemer in Rio for reference, as a nod to the colonial era.
A big tip for this area is to not expect a cosy neighborhood where to have a nice walk, in fact the monuments, Moasterio dos Jerónimos and the Tower of Belém, are located next to the river and this is the only part where there’s a nice pier. However, if you are planning to go towards the Ponte 25 de Abril, like we did, expect that the riverbank is not completely connected, you are going to have to sort some buildings in between. Is like the area is only thought to be enjoyable right next to the monuments, but still there’s this connection missing between all the parts. For instance, expect to cross the large motorways and train tracks using one of those terrible concrete bridges, in order to be able to go back to the town area to pick one of the buses or trams to the city center.
Don’t be unsettled by my former tip, I think it’s a complete must to spend an afternoon here while soaking in all the beautiful light next to the iconic monuments. Furthermore, I think they have done a beautiful job with the MAAT terrace to have views of the bridge. What I definitely miss is not having enough time to visit the inside of the Moasterio, well, always nice to have a good excuse to go back, right?
More Lisbon coming soon!