Today I decided to visit Belem district full of interesting places and museums. I took a bus 727 near the Rato metro station (fill the Viva card in advance, as there is no ticket machine on the bus and tram stations).
First of all I wanted to try fabulous pastry Pastel de Nata in the legendary cafe Pastéis de Belém.
History of this pastry comes back to 18 century. At that time monks used egg-white in a big amount to stiffen clothes, for example nuns habits. Thus, to use remaining egg-yolks monks started to cook cakes and pastries using them. After the Liberal Revolution of 1820 when a lot of monasteries were closed and many religious orders vanished, monks of Jerónimos Monastery started to sell their pastry in the nearby cafe to earn some money. In 1834 monastery was closed and the origin recipe of the Pastel de Nata was sold to the owner of the cafe, that nowadays is known as Pastéis de Belém.
Pastel de Nata is eaten warm with sugar powder and cinnamon at the top.
Pastel de Nata - is the most popular and famous pastry in Portugal and actually you may buy it in every cafe around Lisbon. But it is said that the best Pastel de Nata are here, in the cafe Pastéis de Belém, where they are cooked according to an old recipe of monks of Jeronimos.
You wouldn’t miss cafe Pastéis de Belém (that is situated in 2 minutes walking from Jerónimos Monastery) as there is always queue went out on the street…. But inside it is rather big, with many seating places. Pastéis de Belém is opened from 8.00 am till 11.00 pm.
And now I am a holder of the best Pastel de Nata in Lisbon! I was sitting on the bench, eating pastry and enjoying the views of the monastery. It is hard to describe in words Pastel de Nata’s taste, but it is wonderful. It’s definitely worth to take the bus and come here to Belem at least to try this delicious pastry (one Pastel de Nata costs 1.05 euro).
When Pastel de Nata was finished, it was time to visit Jerónimos Monastery. Jerónimos Monastery considered to be one of the most eminent example of Portuguese late gothic style architecture. Building of the monastery began in 1501, and it took one hundred years to complete the construction!
Both Jerónimos Monastery and Tower of Belem are built in Manueline architectural style, that is characterized by rich ornamentation in windows, columns and use many maritime elements.
I visited the main chapel (for free) of Jeronimos Monastery with it’s beautiful columns, ceiling and stained-glass window.
Entrance fee to the Jerónimos Monastery is 10 euro. You can visit the monastery for free if you have Lisbon card. Monastery is opened from 10 am till 6.30 pm (or till 5.30 from October - April).
There is a Maritime Museum in the west wing (with two spiky towers) of Jeronimos Monastery.
Then I continued to explore the Belem district and accidentally I found Berardo Collection Museum. This is a museum of modern and contemporary art. It’s collection consists of major movements of art including surrealism, cubism, american and british pop art, hyper-realism, minimalism, conceptual art and much more. If you are fond of art or you are an artist I assume you like this remarkable museum. Berardo Museum is opened from 10am till 7pm and is free of charge.
I wandered around museum, among amazing, unique, bizarre installations and paintings… There was a black room with something like window that emit blue light. It was unclear for me what does this mean, but then when I continued moving I saw that walls move in the strange way, it seems like they change their shapes….
One of the best painting in the museum (as for me) is this huge painting (23,5mx13,5m) made by Marc Chagall. He was 78-year old when he created this masterpiece. Chagall found an inspiration in Mozart’s opera "Magic flute".
After the museum I crossed the street and found myself on the bank of the Tagus river near the Monument to the Discoveries, that was installed here in 1960, instead of the old one.
You can go up on the top of the monument (for 5 euro) to see Belem district, Jeronimos Monastery and Tagus river from the bird’s-eye.
It’s 5 minute walk from here to the Belem tower. There is nice small park around the tower. Tower is very picturesque. It is a four storey building, made from limestone. You can visit Belem tower for free if you have Lisbon card, otherwise entrance fee is 5 euro. Belem tower is opened to the public from 10 am till 6.30 pm (or till 5.30 from October till April).
I was tired and full of impressions. So I caught tram 15 that take me to the Figueira square. Tram station is in 2 minutes walking from Belem tower. You should cross the road by the overground bridge and then go straight to the first street, turn left and you will see the stop soon.
On the Figueira square I found Casa das Bifanas - cafe where you can try very popular Portuguese fast-food - bifana.
Bifana is very simple but very tasty food, consists of fresh bread and thin pork steak cooked by special traditional recipe. You could try bifana in every cafe or restaurant in Lisbon, but it is said that one of the best bifana is served here - in Casa das Bifanas.
On the way home on the Restauradores square.
I went home by the Avenida da Liberdade - noisy wide street with various shops of the expensive brands, such as Louis Vuitton, Mont Blanc, Guess, etc.
At the beginning of Avenida da Liberdade you could catch Gloria funicular. It takes you to the best observation area in Lisbon - Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcantara.
Detailed map of my second day in Lisbon:
Room - 20 euro
Bus+tram - 2.80
Pastel de Nata + patty with meat in Pastéis de Belém - 2.25
Bifana and water in Casa das Bifanas - 3.75 (bifana costs 2 euro in menu, but probable without taxes…)
Total: 28.80 euro