Belem is the apex of Lisbon history. Set on the river, it is yet another beautiful area with shops, historical buildings and most importantly, the Casa Pasteis de Belem.
|The entrance to the museum|
This is where sailors began their voyages of discovery around the world. We started our day of discovery at the Maritime Museum, which is filled with models of every imaginable ship built to scale and a complete history of this seafaring nation. In discovering new lands in India and the Americas, Portugal built itself into the richest country in Europe.
|The original monastery has been transformed into the Naval Museum|
This museum is housed in the Monastary of St. Jeronimos, which is attached to the church. This amazing building was built by King Manuel in the early 1500s as a tribute to the sailors who would come to the original humble chapel to pray before setting off on their dangerous oversea adventures.
The church at the end of the monastery (museum) is awe inspiring, with motifs from the sea throughout. Inside we even found the tomb of Vasco de Gama, the courageous explorer who first rounded the Cape of Good Hope, discovering the first sea passage to India in 1497.
Across the highway along the river is the Monument to the Discoveries, built as a tribute to all the explorers who set off from this port. It beautifully captures the team effort that it took, as each explorer built on the discoveries of those who had gone before, and were dependent on the kings who financed their voyages and the soldiers who often took the new lands by force.