Views from above

Still in Belem we scale the Discoveries Monument to get a birds’s eye view of the area.

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We can see the boats moored in the harbour, the tiny ant folk and the impressive monastery that looks like a little scale model from up here.

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Even high up it’s an impressive sight and we’ll take a tour around it later.

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Another famous landmark is the Belem Tower. It’s a fortified tower that was commissioned by King John II to be part of a defence system at the mouth of the Tagus river as was as a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon.

The tower was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and included in the registry of the Seven Wonders of Portugal in 2007.

The final monument we check out in Belem is Mosteiro dos Jerónimos.

The monastery was home to the monks of the Order of St Jerome for four centuries. Their role  was to comfort sailors and pray for the king’s soul.

When the order was dissolved in 1833, the monastery was used as a school and orphanage until about 1940.

Then it’s onwards from Belem and on the road to Sintra. But on route we take a detour to see the Cristo Rei (Christ the King) statue.

The imposing monument has a  pedestal of 82 metres made of four arches with and a flat platform that supports the 28 metres image of Christ.

It was inspired by the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), after the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon visited it.

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The cement statue was built to express gratitude because the Portuguese were spared the effects of World War II.

Then we’re off onto the fairy tale town of Sintra with its fantastical castles in the sky. Expect a glut of photos!!

Bit of Belem

We hopped on tram 15 to head out from Lisbon centre to Belem for the day. Belem’s name comes from the Portuguese word for Bethlehem.

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Many of Portugal’s distinctive buildings and beautiful landmarks can be found in Belem including the Jerónimos Monastery (above and below) and the Tower of Belém

Jerónimos Monastery – located in Empire Square- was originally built to support pilgrims who travelled in the region by Henry the Navigator.

The monastery also served as a church for seafearing adventurers who embarked during the Age of Discovery and its construction was funded by a tax on eastern spices.

Another monument worth seeing is the  Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries)

It was built in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator.

The monument is sculpted in the form of a ship’s prow, with dozens of figures from Portuguese history.

Below we head up the monument for some panoramic views we get waylaid by a temporary exhibition of dangling hearts with “deep and meaningful” thoughts.

Especially this lovely one that of course the man managed to find out of the hundreds of hearts that actually had nice messages on them . . .  .

More pictures to follow from the top of the monument . . . ..  🙂