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9/19 - We boarded the trolley car (tram) to the Belem district of Lisbon
Lisbon's most monumental and historical area is Belem. It was from here that many
of the great Portuguese explorers embarked on their voyages of discovery:
Prince Henry the Navigator and the first overseas expedition to conquer Ceuta in Morocco,
Bartholomeu Dias to round the Cape of Good Hope, the first voyages of Ferdinand Magellan,
Vasco da Gama to discover the sea route to India, and Christopher Columbus
stopped here on his way back to Europe after discovering the New World.
The Jeronimos Monastery is the most impressive symbol of Portugal's power and wealth
during the Age of Discovery. King Manuel I built it in 1502 on the site of a hermitage
founded by Prince Henry the Navigator, where Vasco da Gama and his crew
spent their last night in Portugal in prayer before leaving for India.
BELOW - Fountain in the park and the interior of the church
The tomb of Vasco Da Gama.
Vasco Da Gama prayed for a safe voyage in the small chapel that once stood here.
Pasteis are pastries in Portuguese, and the Pasteis de Belem is one of the oldest
and most renowned in Portugal. The tradition dates back to the early 1800′s when the
monks used the sugar from the refinery connected to the general store to produce sweet pastries.
In 1837, they stopped selling through the general store to open a bakery.
These mini egg-custard pies with a crisp, flaky crust are made from the monk’s ancient,
top-secret recipe. It has remained unchanged, passed down only to the master bakers,
who still hand-craft them in the “secret room” in the bakeshop.
One of Lisbon's most visited sights, the Coaches Museum (Museu Nacional dos Coches)
has the largest and most valuable collection of its type in the world.
One of the most outstanding has gilded figures on the tailgate showing Lisbon
crowned by Fame and Abundance and a dragon trampling the Muslim crescent.
Each coach is more magnificent than the other, showing how coach-makers
went to extraordinary lengths to make their vehicles stand out.
It is housed in a richly decorated 18th century royal riding school that is part of Belem Palace,
illustrating the ostentation and staggering wealth of the old Portuguese elite.
BELOW - the Discoveries Monument, built on the north bank of the Tejo River in 1960
to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry
It represents a three-sailed ship ready to depart, with sculptures of important
historical figures such as King Manuel I carrying an armillary sphere, poet Camões,
Vasco da Gama, Magellan, Cabral, and several other notable Portuguese explorers
Below - Built in 1515 as a fortress to guard the entrance to Lisbon's harbor,
the Belem Tower was the starting point for many of the voyages of discovery,
and for the sailors it was the last sight of their homeland.
Below - We ran into a student rally near Rossio Square