Belém Free Tour
The Portuguese Great Age
Take Lisboa’s Belém Free Tour covers the western part of Lisbon, where the Tagus River becomes the Atlantic Ocean and where Portugal became the world. Yes, the Belém district was the one most profoundly affected by the Discovery Age and our Belém walking tour covers much more than a part of Lisbon’s history, it covers the country’s history. In the words of Fernando Pessoa, “God wills, Man dreams, the work is born.”
BELÉM FREE WALKING TOUR
This is not only the story of a country but also the story of a series of individuals. The story of Prince Henry, known later as the Navigator, a man whose vision and purpose set forward the notorious navigation school of Sagres where the Portuguese created one of the greatest technological leaps in the modern history of mankind: the Caravela. The story of Vasco da Gama, the captain who arrived at the shores of Calicut on May the 20th of 1498 and opened the way to the maritime spice route that would turn Portugal into a worldwide player. The story of Afonso de Albuquerque, Portugal’s most well-known figure in Asia just second to Cristiano Ronaldo, the man many historians consider the greatest naval commander of the age.
It was from Belém that vessels left to uncover new worlds. It was also here that magnificent monuments, like Jerónimos Monastery, Belém Tower or the Monument to the Discoveries, were erected to celebrate this glorious era. Belém went from a small fishing village on the banks of the Tagus River to becoming a noble part of the city and of all our free walking tours, none is more appropriate to invoke Luís Vaz de Camões phrase in his epic poem “The Lusíadas”: Portugal gave “new worlds to the world”. But has History would later on prove, the world gave new worlds to Portugal and particularly to Lisbon.
On the Belém Free Tour we will tell you about an Age when the Portuguese sailed the forever inseparable sea and managed an empire where the sun never set. This is a tour of unmatched beauty with a landscape of Unesco World Heritage monuments like the Jerónimos Monastery or the Tower of Belém. This is also a tour of unparalleled knowledge, filled with stories and details that will conquer even the most sceptical ones. We would suggest that the fifty meter diameter Rosa dos Ventos, Compass Rose and mappa mundi, wonderfully illustrates this promise as we are fully aware of the Portuguese navigators efforts and travels, an Age where the Portuguese built forts, churches and cities on two thirds of the Earth.
FROM A SMALL CHAPEL
TO THE WORLD'S FAMOUS CUSTARD TARTS
The districts very own history began with a small chapel erected to honour the Virgin Mary and the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem (in Portuguese, Belém). The first sailors came here to pray before departing and came here to wash their sins away when returning. If you look closely in the South Portal of the Jerónimos Monastery, you will see the image of the Virgin Mary above a very significant figure to the Discovery Age. Who was the mastermind of the Portuguese navigations? Why historians claim that Portugal was aware of Brazil before 1500? What is the story behind the battle of the rhinoceros in Lisbon? Why was the noble family of the Távoras slaughtered by the Marquis of Pombal after the earthquake of 1755? How did the expulsion of all religious orders led to a world famous recipe?
Anyone mentioned a world famous recipe? Yes we saved the best for last and we would never forget Belém’s famous Pastéis de Nata or custard tarts. Over 20.000 pastries are made and sold every day and there is even a Secret Workshop where the delicious recipe invented in 1837 is kept. Only a total of 5 people know it by heart and we would bet just one will not be enough to indulge your senses.
On our Belém Free Tour you’ll discover how Portugal established the first global economy 600 years ago and started what we call today globalization. Immerse yourself in history and scenic beauty, enjoy the characteristic light of this city planted on the edge of the Tagus River. Feel the reason why all Portuguese have a traveller’s soul and why the world will always be so small for us.
Groups of 8 or more are always welcomed. In this case we require a prepayment of 10€ per adult and 5€ per youngster under 18.
Children under 14 are free of charge. This principle results from the need to protect and value the level of quality and dedication we demand of our Take Lisboa local guides.
What will you see in our Belém Free Tour?
To attend the Belém Free Tour booking is required. Please note that the tour will only take place with a minimum of 5 adults.
We will go to Belém by train from the Cais do Sodré Train Station.
The waiting lines for tickets at the station are extremely long but there is another option for tickets: You can buy a Viva Viagem card and charge it at any metro station (zapping option, money charge and not trips or day cards).
This card is usable to go to Belém and it just takes 5 minutes to do it, it is important to do it before arriving at the train station.