In the first part of this article, we answered a couple of most FAQs and told you everything about our first day visiting Lisbon.
On that first day, we took a hop-on-hop-off-bus tour, visited the city centre and most of its monuments and highlights, ending with the National Pantheon.
In this second part of “Lisbon in 2 days”, we will resume from there and talk about our second day in Lisbon.
So get ready and buckle up!
On our second day in Lisbon, we took the tram 15E from Commerce Square and went visiting the historic waterfront district of Belém, home to some of Lisbon’s most important monuments and museums and the birthplace of the “Pastéis de Belém” (you can find the homonymous pastry shop just in front of the tram and bus stop in Rua de Belém).
In Belém, you’ll find fine monuments and buildings of great importance such as the Hieronymite Monastery, the Belém Tower, the Monument to the Discoveries, the Belém Palace (the official residence of Portugal’s president), the Coleção Berardo Museum as well as several scenic gardens.
As the Monument to the Discoveries beautifully illustrates, Belém was a popular departure point during the 15th and the 16th century (a period called the Portuguese Age of Discoveries).
Among all the adventurers that have embarked from this beautiful place, we can include Vasco da Gama, who was the first to sail directly from Europe to India, and Ferdinand Magellan, who was aboard the first ship that successfully circumnavigated the world. Besides, Christopher Columbus also made a stop here on his way back to Spain from the Americas.
We started our visit to Belém from the Hieronymite Monastery, but to get to its entrance you need to walk along the Empire Square.
1. Empire Square
The Empire Square (“Praça do Império”) was built as part of the urbanization plan that encompassed the area of Belém for the 1940 Portuguese World Exposition, which commemorated the 800th anniversary of independence of Portugal and the 300th anniversary of the Restoration.
It consists of successive quadrangles, that structure space into passages and green spaces. In the middle, you will find a colossal fountain, which lights up in different colours at night.
Just next to this square you can find the Vasco Da Gama garden with its wonderful Thai pavilion.
2. Hieronymite Monastery
Hieronymite Monastery (“Mosteiro dos Jerónimos”) is the former 16-century Monastery of St. Mary of Belém built near the Tagus river during the Age of Discoveries to honour the explorer, Vasco da Gama, as he and his crew spent their last night in Belém before setting sail down the African coast to India in 1498.
Later, during the 17th century, the structure served as a monastery for the monks of the Order of St. Jerome (hence its name), who gave guidance to sailors and prayed for the king’s soul. In the 19th century, it was secularised and became a school and an orphanage until 1940.
It is one of the most prominent examples of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture in Lisbon and was classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the nearby Tower of Belém, in 1983.
Adjacent to the monastery, you can find the Church of Santa Maria. It has a single nave that is held up by six beautifully sculpted columns and houses the tombs of Vasco da Gama and Luís de Camões, author of the epic “The Lusiads” in which he glorifies the triumphs of Da Gama and his compatriots. The kings, princes and descendants of King Manuel I are buried in the side chapels. While, King Manuel I, his son, King John III, and their wives rest in the main chapel.
The monastery has a two-story cloister with breathtaking columns, each one differently carved with coils of rope, sea monsters, coral, and other sea motifs, evocative of that time of world exploration at sea.
Take a couple of minutes to enjoy the full view of this enchanted place and be ready to have your breath taken away! It’s a totally must-seen of our Lisbon in 2 days!
Around the cloister, you can visit the Chapter Room, the Refectory, the Confessionals (where the monks of the Order of Saint Jerome heard the confessions of sailors and pilgrims) and the Library.
On the south façade of the monastery, one can admire the portal with Prince Henry the Navigator guarding the entrance, the Virgin of Bethlehem blessing the monument, and Archangel Saint Gabriel, the protector of Portugal.
The western portal depicts to the left, protected by St. Jerome, the statue of King Manuel, which is said to be a realistic portrait, and to the right is that of Queen Mary, his wife, protected by St. John the Baptist.
Cloister admission: 10€/12$. You can buy a combined ticket valid for both the monastery cloister and the Belém Tower for 12€/14$, or the cloister, the Belém Tower and the National Archaeological Museum for 16€/19$.
The price of the cloister and the Belém Tower is covered by your Lisbon Card.
Exiting the monastery, we crossed the road and headed to the Monument to the Discoverers.
3. Monument to the Discoveries
The Monument to the Discoveries (“Padrão dos Descobrimentos”), located along the river where ships departed to explore and trade with India and the Orient, celebrates the Portuguese Age of Discovery.
At first, it was built as a temporary beacon for the 1940 Portuguese World Exhibition and demolished a few years later.
Then, in 1960, a new permanent and enlarged 52-metre-high (171 ft) version of the monument was constructed in cement and rose-tinted stone, with statues sculpted from limestone as a part of the celebrations for the 5th centenary of the death of the main initiator of the Age of Discovery, Prince Henry the Navigator. He was neither a sailor nor a navigator. This nickname, in fact, rather comes from the fact he sponsored a lot of explorations along the west coast of Africa, which resulted in the discovery of the Azores, Madeira and Cape Verde.
The monument is shaped like the prow of a caravel (the ship used in the early Portuguese exploration) and on either side, two ramps are projecting over the river’s edge, with the figure of Henry the Navigator on its very centre.
Along the two ramps, there are 16 figures (33 in total) representing personalities from the Portuguese Age of Discovery, including monarchs, explorers, cartographers, artists, scientists and missionaries, all portrayed with symbols alluding to their identity.
The vertical element consists of a stylised mast with two Portuguese coats of arms on each side with five small shields, surrounded by a band with 12 castles and stylised fleurs-de-lis in the centre.
The monument is flanked by two metal armillary spheres on two parallelepiped platforms.
Coming from the Monastery and crossing the Empire Square, just before reaching the Monument to the Discovers, pay attention to the little square pavement, a gift from the South African government in 1960.
It depicts a 50-metre-diameter (160 ft) compass rose made of different types of limestone. In its middle, you will find a 14-metre(46-foot)-wide Mappa Mundi, a giant marble map of the world showing the routes of Portuguese explorers during the Age of Discovery.
The monument observation deck (reachable via a lift or stairs) offers enchanting views of the Tagus river, the Belém neighbourhood and its many attractions, including the Belém Tower and the Heironymite Monastery, but, most of all, of the most beautiful view over the compass rose.
Fun fact: Among the 33 figures on this monument, there is only one woman, which is queen Philippa of Lancaster, mother of Henry the Navigator.
Entrance fee: 6€/7$. With the Lisbon Card, you get a 20% discount (4.8€/5.8$).
We then had a 15-minute walk to the Belém Tower.
4. Belém Tower
The Belém Tower (“Torre de Belém”), officially the Tower of Saint Vincent, is a 16th-century fortification that served as an embarkation and disembarkation point for Portuguese explorers and as a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon. Years later, it was transformed into a lighthouse and customs house.
It was built during the Portuguese Renaissance and is a prominent example of the Portuguese Manueline style, even though it also incorporates hints of other architectural styles, such as the Moorish and Venetian ones.
The structure was built from lioz limestone and is composed of a bastion and a 30-metre, four-storey tower, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Hieronymite Monastery, since 1983.
Entrance fee: see the Hieronymite Monastery point.
Fun fact: on the western façade of the Tower of Belém, you’ll find a curious gargoyle in the shape of a rhinoceros.
From there, we took the 15E towards the city centre, but we took off at the Cais Sodré stop to visit the Ribeira Market.
5. Ribeira Market
Ribeira Market (“Mercado da Ribeira”) has been Lisbon’s main food market since 1892 and it is another of our must-seen of this Lisbon in 2 days.
In 2014 a gourmet food hall was added to the traditional market stalls, that still offer fresh and traditional local products on the ground floor from 6 am to 2 pm. This is where many of Lisbon’s chefs buy the fresh fish served at their restaurants.
The gourmet food hall, with its canteen-style communal tables and eight bars, on the other hand, has become a major food destination for both tourists and locals. It’s on the western side of the building, on the ground floor, and opens daily from 10 am to midnight from Sunday to Wednesday and from 10 am to 2 am from Thursday to Saturday. It mixes stalls from top chefs with different brands of local products, and the foods range from seafood to steak sandwiches, hamburgers, sushi and ice cream, among other specialities.
Exiting the market turn left to continue on Avenida 24 de Julho, turn left again onto Travessa Remolares and then right onto Rua Nova do Carvalho, also known as Pink Street.
6. Pink Street
Officially known as Rua Nova do Carvalho, Pink Street is just a stone’s throw from Ribeira Market.
It’s in the now popular neighbourhood of “Cais do Sodre“, once Lisbon’s Red Light District.
It was painted in pink between 2011 and 2013 as part of a project to enhance the neighbourhood, and, since then, it has become locally known as “Rua Cor de Rosa”, meaning Pink Street.
Even though the old and shady businesses have been replaced by amazing and coloured cafès and bars, you can still see signs of Pink Street’s history. Some of the pubs and bars, in fact, still have their old name, generally of other port cities.
The project was a massive success, despite the protests for gentrification, and nowadays this street is famous due both to its “instagrammability” and its nightlife.
From there, cover Pink Street in the opposite direction and reach Praça São Paulo. Then turn right to stay on Praça São Paulo and then left onto Rua de S. Paulo. You will find the entrance to the Bica Funicular on your right, tucked into an arch of a building at the number 234. Look for the sign over the arch.
7. Bica Funicular
Bica Funicular (“Elevador da Bica”), is a 19-century funicular railway line ascending one of Lisbon’s steepest hills between Rua de São Paulo and Largo do Calhariz via Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo.
It is considered Lisbon’s most picturesque funicular and it is the second most popular “elevator” after the Glória Lift. It was deemed a National monument in 2002.
Ticket: 3.8€/4.6$ (a one-day round trip). Free with your Lisbon Card.
8. Santa Catarina viewpoint
Santa Catarina viewpoint (“Miradouro de Santa Catarina”) is another popular terrace offering scenic views over the city, the Tagus River, the 25 de Abril Bridge, the Christ the King statue, and it’s known for its amazing sunsets and unique atmosphere of music, conversation and drinks.
In the little garden behind the viewpoint, you can find a stone figure of Adamastor, a mythical sea monster from the epic poem “The Lusiads” by Camões. It symbolised the Cape of Torment, a place where many Portuguese ships were wrecked. Finally rounded by Bartolomeu Dias in 1488, Adamastor ceased to be so scary and they changed the name “Cape of Torment” into “Cape of Good Hope” as we know it nowadays. That’s the reason why this viewpoint is known as the Adamastor viewpoint.
With this superb view over the city, our second day in Lisbon came to an end and with this our Lisbon in 2 days as well.
Lisbon has this unique charm that takes your breath away almost unexpectedly.
One moment you are walking along a street that at first glance looks quite ordinary, and, then, out of the blue, you got hit in the face by some beautiful buildings covered in azulejos, or some awesome square or church, or you find yourself in a viewpoint and almost faint from the surprise of such stunning views!
Not to mention, that feeling of astonishment that totally takes you over when standing in Commerce Square.
That square on the seafront is simply marvellous!
In my opinion, it provides the clearest representation of how majestic and powerful the Portuguese Empire and crown was. Besides, I love the fact that it completely opens over the sea as I see it as a mighty reminder of how closely its strength was related to the sea and the maritime trade. I think it’s a perfect tribute to Portugal past grandeur.
And then you go to Belém, and, if somehow you still have any kind of misgivings (admitting it’s possible), you get your mind blown away by the cloister of the Hieronymites Monastery. And then, your last resistance gets wiped out completely!
Thus, the next thing you know is that you fell in love with Lisbon!
It happened to me and is gonna happen to you too!
How can anyone not love Lisbon, after all?
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