On our second day in Lisbon, I started my day by visiting the Praça do Comércio, the former site of Lisbon’s royal palace. This bustling square overlooks the Tagus river. Highlights included the amazing architecture and Arco da Rua Augusta. Unfortunately, Jared seemed to have food poisoning, so I was on my own for the day.
I say seemed because…two days later the stomach bug he had hit me just as a hard. We have spent the years since our trip trying to figure out what we got and where. Did Jared eat something weird at the market in Madrid? Did we catch something on the overnight train? Was it two separate cases of food poisoning? All I can say is wash your hands.
From the square, I took an Uber to the Belém district. Realistically, I could have taken public transportation, but it was starting to get later in the afternoon, so it was faster to take a car. My first stop was the Ajuda Palace. While a really interesting palace with a pretty cool temporary exhibit, this is not really the A-list of places to visit in Belém. Given how crowded these tourists destinations can get, I would recommend starting much earlier in the day and hitting the highlights (below).
The Path of the Gaze was the exhibition by the Spanish artist Damià Díaz that was featured throughout. It was fascinating to walk through the halls of the palace and see how the pieces interacted with the antiquities.
More views inside the palace including a sculpture of Leda and the Swan.
After the palace, I stumbled across this amazing guy. Titled “Big Raccoon,” it is an installation by Bordallo II made from trash, metal, and other found materials.
More scenes from the streets of Belém.
My next stop was the Jerónimos Monastery, an absolute a must-do in Lisbon. Its construction began in 1502 and took nearly a century to complete. There are incredible architectural details throughout.
After the Monastery, my next stop was the Belém Tower. Now a major tourist attraction, this tower was once an important part of the city’s defenses. Given the tight space inside, be prepared to wait for entry.
Once inside, you can explore throughout the tower. Keep in mind that it gets pretty tight, people who are uncomfortable with small spaces and heights might just want to view the tower from the shore.
Views of the harbor from the Belém Tower.
My final stop in Belem before heading back to our Airbnb was Padrão dos Descobrimentos, the Monument to the Discoveries. A much more modern monument, this was erected in 1960 to memorialize the death of Henry the Navigator. Henry and other historical figures who were part of the Portuguese age of discovery are carved on both sides.
Before you leave Belem, be sure to stop for a Pasteis de Nata, the traditional local flakey pastry with custard creme. They are a delicious way to end your afternoon.