Until the fourteenth century, Belém was just a beautiful river beach, becoming in the most emblematic area of Lisbon and one of the most beautiful in the world from the fifteenth century to the present day. Horse carriages were a constant throughout the neighborhood until the mid-twentieth century. Now, in the middle of the XXI century, re-living a Portuguese tradition, you can enjoy horse carriage tour, passing through several places of historical and cultural interest in the Belém district.
Belém got its start as a small fishing village located at the mouth of the Tagus River. The Portuguese King Manuel approved building Jerónimos Monastery there in the early 1500s and it became the final resting place for the royal family. Belém continued to thrive and grow and became a symbol of Portuguese expansionism. When voyagers set off on their journeys during the Age of Discovery, they set sail from Belém. Voyagers like Vasco da Gama, who sailed to India, Pedro Alvares Cabral, who sailed to Brazil, and Ferdinand Magellan, who was the first to sail around the globe, all left mainland Europe from the port of Belém.
Visiting Belém is walking this path of history dedicated to these great explorers. It represents Portugal’s most prosperous period and also includes some of the most exquisite architecture found anywhere in Europe, and even in the world. Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) Be prepared for your jaw to drop when you see this stunningly beautiful and ornate building made in the Portuguese late Gothic Manueline style of architecture. Construction started in 1501 and ended around 100 years later. They clearly spared no expense as every corner of this building is simply exquisite. In fact, both Jerónimos Monastery and the Tower of Belém are classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site are recognized as exceptional Portuguese art at its best. UNESCO sites are deemed to be “important to the collective interests of humanity” and are selected based on cultural, historical, scientific, or other significance.