Discovering Old-World Lisbon in historical Belém
Walking along the charming streets of Belém, one of Lisbon's oldest neighbourhoods, it is easy to see why this area is very much at the heart of the city's history and its love for arts and culture.
As you enter the historic neighbourhood, you are immediately drawn into the lush and nautical ambience by its sparkling waterfront, dotted with pretty white boats in the marina, and by the tall beams of a bright red bridge - the Ponte de 25 Abril bridge - which bears a striking resemblance to San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.
Perched on a small hill overlooking the Tagus river, the neighbourhood of Belém is a charming mosaic of colourful ceramic-tiled houses, opulent historical monuments and museums. Being a lover of colour (especially that of Lisbon's eclectic mix of pretty tiled exteriors and interesting doors) I couldn't help but make two visits to explore this charming neighbourhood!
Sitting proudly at the helm of Belém's charming history and architecture (and perhaps the most spectacular looking of them all) is a remarkable and grand 16th century monastery, the Mosteiro dos Jerònimos, which was built at the height of the country's maritime glory.
Still housing the remains of legendary explorers and maritime voyagers such as Vasco de Gama, it is impossible not to notice this exquisite monastery which sprawls an entire block in the leafy neighbourhood, (and also shares a road with other prominent properties, such as the residence of the President of Portugal) .
Boasting ornate and intricate features and exquisite gardens filled with tropical foliage the monastery echo's a time of lavish wealth and prosperity during Portugal's golden age of discovery. It is hard not to be in awe of this grand old monastery which, having survived an earthquake which devastated the city in 1755, is an icon of Lisbon and still continues to inspire an old-world charm in this historical neighbourhood .