Along the riverside of Lisbon is the neighbourhood with the largest number of heritage sites connected with the Portuguese voyages of discovery: Belém whose name is derived from the Portuguese word for Bethlehem.
It was from the beach in Belém that Vasco da Gama set sail in 1497 to discover the sea route to India and the grandiosity of the former empire can be sensed throughout the area. One of the most imposing symbols of the city is here - the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, a monastery and church whose construction was started in 1501 by King Manuel I and finished a century later. Vasco de Gamo's tomb is found in the magnificent church attached to the monastery.
|Vasco de Gama, who discovered the sea route from Europe to Asia|
Another imposing symbol is the Belém tower, a military outpost built to protect the Tagus Estuary from pirates and enemy attacks - now sitting in shallow water several feet offshore.
|The view from the top of the tower|
After a day of sightseeing (life is tough), we went to a very famous establishment in Belém the Pasteis de Belém, which has been making and selling the famous Natas custard tarts (in Belém called Pasteis de Belém) since 1823. I was intending on taking a picture of mine when it arrived at our table, but it looked so good that before I knew it, it was three-quarters gone.
Lisbon has been wonderful, lots to see, the people are warm, there is lots of life, and it is inexpensive. A real joy.
Tomorrow, Wes, Vince and Claude leave from home, and we go to Porto for our last day. The adventure is almost done.