Well, the second week here definitely flew by! I’m proud to say that I’ve become much more comfortable taking the metro and buses around the area without getting too lost, I’m practically a local! I wish, but I think it counts for something when people start to ask me for directions (never mind that they ask in Portuguese, so I can’t really help much).
This week, my time at the hospital was spent in the Orthopedic wing, but I had a lot of trouble finding my doctor every day (he proved to be good at leaving me behind). Althought, I did get to see two surgeries on a shoulder and elbow, so I guess it wasn’t too bad. Well, time to move on to what you really want to hear about!
This week, the location to talk about is Belem. Belem is a short train ride (my first one!) outside of Lisbon, easy to get to since you just hop on the train at the last stop on the metro. I went on May 31, visiting Belem Tower, Jeronimo’s Monastery, and Padrao dos Descobrimentos (don’t worry, there are pictures at the end). I also got to taste a true pastel de nata where it became famous, at the Pasteis de Belem. I’m going to try to learn how to make this incredible custard-filled pastery for my family, so I’ll post the recipe with tips once I figure it out! Now to talk about the history behind the tourist attractions I saw (with pics!).
This tower was commissioned by King John II at the mouth of the Tagus River in order to be a point of defence and a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon. This was a crucial time because the Portuguese were making many important maritime discoveries during the Age of Discoveries. It was built in the 16th century in the classic Portuguese Manueline style (or late Gothic style).
After getting papal permission in 1496 to replace the previous church that was already there, this monastery was built for the use of the Order of Christ and provided a safe place for maritime travelers to rest. The location was considered especially advantageous to boats because it gave protection from the wind and safe anchorage. The construction of the monastery and church took a total of 100 years to complete. The religious order of the Hieronymite monks were chosen after it was completed by King Manuel I. Their job, which they completed for 4 centuries, was to pray for the soul of the king and give safe shelter to the sailors that pass through. It is constructed in a mixture of Manueline, Plateresque, and Renaissance styles.
Padrao dos Descobrimentos
This is located next to the Tagus River by the Tower of Belem where ships would leave to explore Africa and India during the Age of Discovery (15th and 16th centuries). It is made in modern classicism and was completed in 1960. It is also called the Monument of the Discoveries having been created to remember all the people who contributed to one of the most important times in Portuguese history. There are 33 figures, including Henry the Navigator, Vasco da Gama (discoverer of the sea route to India), Ferdinand Magellan, Luis de Camoes (greatest Portuguese poet), and Ferdinand the Holy Prince.
That’s a wrap on the historical facts, but here are a few other pictures I took this week.