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Photo diary of Belem & Lisbon from above

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[The Tower of Belém – UNESCO World Heritage Site]

There’s a lot of things about Lisbon that I wasn’t expecting. The city that happens to be older than Rome {second oldest European capital after Athens} is full of surprises and hidden corners that would delight anyone, especially my curious self. I already explored my first impressions of the city and how I ate my way through the city. Hence my need to embark on a photo journey exploring an area extremely important to Portuguese marine history during the important age of discovery. Why that conjures up images of cinnamon and pirate boats, I have no idea..

[Discoveries monument]

Naturally like any tourist, we opted to hop on a train from the Cais do Sodré station and visit nearby Belem, only six kilometers from the city center along the waterfront. No visit to Lisbon would be complete without visiting this place. Most famous for the Jerónimos Monastery, the Tower of Belém and my new favorite version of sweet heaven – the famous pastéis de Belém at the Antiga Confeitaria de Belemin the town center that every guide-book {rightfully} insists you try.

Don’t miss the discoveries monument with its eye-catching sculpture featuring several important Portuguese historical figures such as King Manuel I, Vasco de Gama and more. It was built along the Tagus River in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator.

I especially loved the beautiful mosaic pavement in front of the monument that was offered by the South African government in 1960 and which represents a compass with the map of the world charting the routes taken by the Portuguese explorers

One great tip *you can visit both famous monuments for free on Sundays from 10am – 2pm. You can read more about these famous monuments and what not to miss via GoLisbon here.

Getting off the train and walking along the riverfront, you can’t help but mentally imagine Portugal in its famous age of discovery from the mid-to-late 15th century. This place is teeming with history at every corner and as you can imagine, a fair amount of tourists.

Afterwards we headed to a fabulous panoramic spot overlooking the city – the 90 foot monument of Christ. This huge freestanding structure with Christ overlooking the city was constructed in 1959 in thanks to God for having spared Portugal during WWII and was inspired by the famous statue in Rio de Janeir.

How to get there? Hop on the commuter ferry from Cais do Sodre Station across the river to Cacilhas (9am-6pm), where you will hop on the 101 bus outside the station which will stop right by the monument. I highly recommend it for both the experience of the ferry which is very cheap and allows you to spy on Lisbon from the water.

From the top of ‘Christ’ you really can’t beat a view that looks very similar to the San Francisco skyline [which coincidentally has a lot in common with Lisbon, especially the hills]. Plus we spotted a pretty unique ship with a womans face on the ship’s bow.

[Jerónimos Monastery, built in 1501 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site]

                       [Pastéis de Belém – famous custard tarts sprinkled with cinnamon]                                                         

The best part about visiting monuments as tall as this one? The opportunity to pretend like you are flying ‘above the world’ in a place that feels a bit like you are already there.

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