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The Beauty of Belém, Portugal

Belém is charming district east of Lisbon that's well worth the visit. At only a ten-minute train ride from the Cais do Sodré hub, it's an affordable and easy day trip from Lisbon. Major sights include Belem Tower, the Jerónimos Monastery, and the famous Pasteis de Belem bakery.

Belem Tower is a fortification from the 16th century, built out of limestone with impressive detailing and beautiful chessboard floors.

I found it a bit crowded, especially how they held us on each floor since there was only one way (spiral staircase) up and down. Still, it was cool to see and offered beautiful views of the Tagus River. My favorite part of the Tower was actually the surrounding park. It was fun to see so many people milling about, having a Pina Colada at 11 am, and just enjoying the sun.

The Jerónimos Monastery seemed to be overlooked by most Belem tourists, based on the lack of line to get in. It was gorgeous, though. Look at that stonework! It was constructed over the course of 100 years starting in 1501, and it's made out of limestone.

We also went to the famous Pasteis de Belem so I could try one of their iconic pastries, an egg custard tart called Pastel de Nata. You can find these literally everywhere throughout Lisbon, even (especially?) in the airport. I ended up having a handful over my month in Lisbon, but I had to try the best. It was delicious, especially with a little powdered sugar and cinnamon on top. I wouldn't go all the way to Belem just for the pastry, but it was a great stop for the end of a good day.

I'll end with the fact that Belem is the position (in my opinion) from which to view the Golden-Gate-style bridge and Christ-the-Redeemer-esque statue. The bridge was actually designed by the same architect as the iconic Golden Gate, and it's quite a sight.


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