What to Do in Lisbon – Part 1

Belém Tower - Lisbon, Portugal

What To Do In Lisbon is a list of attractions, popular places and suggested activities & things to do during a visit to the capital city of Portugal. Here we go:

Belém Tower

Located on the north bank of Tagus (Tejo) River in Lisbon, western Portugal, the Belém Tower (Torre de Belém) dates from the early 16th century, and was designed as a part of the city’s defense system.
The tower was built in Manueline architectural style – common to many other monuments and old buildings in Lisbon – using lioz limestone (a rock specific to the surroundings of the city) and, despite its age, it is very well preserved – thus the UNESCO World Heritage Site title received in 1983 along with the Jerónimos Monastery.
The following photos have captured impressive architectural details of the tower in the morning sun:

Torre de Belém in the morning sun.
Lateral view
Lateral view - Belém Tower.
Main tower
Main tower - Belém Tower.


Monument to the Discoveries

At a short distance from Belém Tower and on the same side of Tagus River, you will find the Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos), built to commemorate 500 years since the death of Prince Henry the Navigator and also in honor to 15th and 16th century Portuguese explorers and their great geographical discoveries.

5th centennial of the death of Infante Henry the Navigator
Commemorating the 5th centennial of the death of Infante Henry the Navigator.

The monument symbolizes a ship on which embarked famous figures from the prolific era known as the Age of Discoveries such as: Prince Henry the Navigator, Vasco da Gama, Nicolau Coelho, Bartolomeu Dias, Luís de Camões, Philippa of Lancaster, Pedro Nunes, and António Abreu.

Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries)
Monument to the Discoveries
The ship is ready for departure.
Portuguese navigators lead by the Infante Henry the Navigator.
Monument to the discoveries - detail
Monument to the discoveries - detail

The pavement next to the monument was decorated with marble mosaics representing the world map and a compass rose – a gift from the government of South Africa – while the rest of the pavement symbolizes the ocean waves surrounding the ship.

The ship, sailing the Atlantic.


Jerónimos Monastery

Close to Belém Tower lies Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos), a building that impresses by its size and by details of carvings and paintings decorating the walls.

Jerónimos Monastery.
Jerónimos Monastery, south walls.
Jerónimos Monastery, exterior walls detail.

During the Age of Discoveries, this Manueline-style monastery was inhabited by Hieronymite monks who prayed for navigators and offered them spiritual guidance before their expeditions.
Inside the monastery you can see religious paintings and stained glass windows, statues of saints and carved limestone columns incorporating various maritime and religious motifs.

Jesus Christ, crucified.
Jesus Christ, crucified.
Virgin Mary and Jesus
Virgin Mary and Jesus - stained glass window.
Altar inside the Jerónimos Monastery.

The walls surrounding the courtyard of the monastery look like a real embroidery of sculptures with various maritime and floral motifs, while the central fountain is the perfect complement to this picture.

Mosteiro dos Jerónimos courtyard.
Courtyard walls
Courtyard walls.
Courtyard corridor
Courtyard corridor at the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos.
Sculptures embroidery
Sculptures embroidery.

The tombs of Vasco da Gama and Luís de Camões can be found in the lower choir of the monastery, while upstairs is set up a small souvenir shop where tourists can buy photos and small religious gifts.

The tomb of Vasco da Gama
The tomb of Vasco da Gama.



To get to the municipality of Almada you will have to make a short trip to the other side of Tagus River. 25 de Abril Bridge (Ponte 25 de Abril) – a bridge that looks very similar to Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco – links Lisbon to Almada and is one of the largest suspension bridges in Europe.

25 de Abril Bridge
25 de Abril Bridge, linking Lisbon to Almada.
Ponte 25 de Abril
Ponte 25 de Abril (25 de Abril Bridge).

Crossing the bridge you can see the great Christ the King statue (Cristo-Rei) watching over Lisbon.

Cristo-Rei (Christ the King).

Sited high on a hill, the statue was inspired by the Christ the Redeemer statue from Rio de Janeiro: the Portuguese priests were impressed by the monument in the capital of Brazil they saw in the 1930s and agreed to build a similar monument in Lisbon if Portugal would be left outside the World War II. Portugal was a neutral country during the war, thus Cristo-Rei was inaugurated in 1959.
The statue itself is 28 meters high and is built on a 82 meters high pedestal consisting of four arches. On top of the pedestal (at the base of the statue) there is a platform that offers breathtaking views of the Tagus River and Lisbon.

Christ the King
Christ the King overlooking Lisbon.

The Oceanarium

The Oceanarium (Oceanário de Lisboa) hosts entire ecosystems and hundreds of species of fish from the Atlantic, Antarctic, Pacific and Indian oceans (you can see sharks, stingrays, penguins, sea otters, starfish, coral, anemones and a large variety of fish and birds) and develops programs that encourage school children to explore and learn about the aquatic world.

Sunflower Sea-Star and Leopard Moray Eel
Sunflower Sea-Star and Leopard Moray Eel.
Sunflower sea-star
Sunflower sea-star, close-up.
Leopard Moray Eel
Leopard Moray Eel, close-up.
Yellow fish
Yellow fish.
Stingray and fish
Stingray and fish.

Here is a short video of a stingray swimming in the Oceanarium.

Red lionfish
Lisbon Oceanarium - Red lionfish.
Alaskan sea otters
Alaskan sea otters.
Penguins at the Lisbon Oceanarium.

The ticket price for permanent exhibitions is usually 13 euros for children over 13 years and adults up to 64 years, 9 euros for children between 4-12 years and 65+ years adults, while children under 3 years have free entrance.

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