Belém's Incredible Monastery & NatasMarch 28, 2019 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C
Belém isn’t just known for the National Coach Museum. The 16th-century Tower of Belém and the sail-shaped Discoveries Monument are featured on almost every postcard. Also there is the immense Gothic Jerónimos Monastery, and the very popular Pastéis de Belém patisserie, famed for its custard tarts. We only have so much energy and there is just so much to see and do!
We wandered over to the Jerónimos Monastery after seeing the coach museum and were really impressed by its grand size (100m long) and the carvings on the limestone walls. King Manuel (1495) erected it as a thank you for the discoveries made by early Portuguese explorers. He built the church near the site where a small chapel stood where sailors spent their night before their frightening voyages, praying.
Portugal was a wealthy country in those days and and no expense was barred from creating this spectacular monastery. You have to see it to believe it.
The monastery is the final resting ground of Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese explorer who was the first European to sail to India. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site and was declared a National Monument in 1907.
Now the time came to have a coffee and a great and we were in the right place!
Everyone who visits Portugal learns about and eats the famous pasteis de nata, but to sink your teeth into the real deal, made using the original 187-year-old recipe, you need to stop in at a cafe called Pasteis de Belém. And guess what? It is practically next door to the monastery.
The first owners of this well-known pastry shop (which was a sugar refinery at that time) purchased the recipe in the 1830s from the monks of the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Jerónimos Monastery), who first sold the pastries as a way to raise money. Flaky on the outside and creamy on the inside, they are delicious pastries, and it didn’t take long for the Pasteis de Belém to become one of the most popular pastry shops in Lisbon. The lineups tell it all.
We were able to see where they make the 20,000 or so tarts a day and what a sight. Donna, Karen and Rob, and members of our family would be drooling. We just sat down at a table, sprinkled the hot tarts with cinnamon and powdered sugar and ate them with a cafe com leite (coffee with milk). Yum.
Now we had to face our 40 minute tram ride home with a trolley full of students and tourists - it was like being in a can of Portuguese sardines! Wow!Read more