- Santa Maria de Belém
official_name = Santa Maria de Belém
area_total = 3.39
population_total = 9,752 (
population_density = 2,878
website = http://www.jf-belem.pt/
Santa Maria de Belém, or just Belém, pron. IPA2|ˈsɐ̃tɐ mɐˈɾiɐ dɨ bɨˈlɐ̃ĩ) is a
parishof Lisbon, Portugal, located 6km west of the present city centre and 2km west of Ponte 25 de Abril(25th of April Bridge). Its name is derived from the Portuguese for Bethlehem.
Belém is famous as the place from which many of the great Portuguese explorers set off on their voyages of discovery. In particular, it is the place from which
Vasco da Gamadeparted for Indiain 1497. It is also a former royal residence and features the 17th-18th century Belém Palace, former royal residence and now occupied by the President of Portugal, and the Ajuda Palace, begun in 1802 but never completed.
Perhaps Belém's most famous feature is its tower, Torre de Belém, whose image is much used by
Lisbon's tourist board. The tower was built as a fortified lighthouse late in the reign of Dom Manuel ( 1515- 1520) to guard the entrance to the port at Belém. It stood on a little island in right side of the Tagus, surrounded by water.
Belém's other major historical building is the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Jerónimos Monastery), which the Torre de Belém was built partly to defend. The building of the monastery, an example of
Manuelinearchitecture, was begun in 1502on the instructions of Manuel I and took 50 years to complete. It was built as a monument to Vasco da Gama's successful voyage to Indiaand was funded by a tax on eastern spices. The monastery contains the tomb of Vasco da Gama. Located in the wings of the monastery are the " Museu Nacional de Arqueologia" (National Archaeological Museum) and the "Museu da Marinha" (Maritime Museum).
Belém's most notable modern feature is the
Padrão dos Descobrimentos(Monument to the Discoveries). This is a 52m high slab of concrete, erected in 1960to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator. The monument is carved into the shape of the prow of a ship in which stand statues of various explorers, as well as a statue of Henry himself. Adjacent to the monument is a square into whose surface is set a map showing the routes of various Portuguese explorers.
In the heart of Belém is the "Praça do Império": gardens centred upon a large fountain, laid out during
World War II. To the west of the gardens lies the " Centro Cultural de Belém". This was built for Portugal's 1992presidency of the EU. It is now an arts complex, containing Belém's "Museu do Design" (Design Museum). To the southeast of the gardens is the " Belém Palace" (1770), the official residence of the Portuguese President. Five hundred metres to the east of Praça do Império lies Belém's other major square " Praça Afonso de Albuquerque".
Belém is home to a number of other museums, many of which were established by Salazar for the 1940 Belém Expo: "Museu da Electricidade" (Electricity Museum), "Museu do Centro Científico e Cultural de Macau" (
MacauCultural Museum), "Museu de Arte Popular" (Folk Art Museum) and " Museu Nacional dos Coches" (Coach Museum). Belenenses, a renowned sports clubfrom Lisbon is based in Belém.
Belém's main street is "Rua de Belém", in which there is a 160-year-old pastry shop, at which can be purchased one of the famous "
pastel de Belém" (plural: "pastéis de Belém") - custardtarts made with flaky pastry.
Torre de Belém
Padrão dos Descobrimentos
Belém Cultural Centre
Museu Nacional de Arqueologia
* Museu da Marinha
* National Coach Museum
Pastéis de Nata
* Encyclopaedia Britannica Standard Edition CD ROM, 2002.
* Hancock, Matthew. "The Rough Guide to Lisbon", Rough Guides Ltd, London, 2003. ISBN 1-85-828906-8
* Weimer, Alois & Weimer-Langer, Britta. "Portugal", GeoCenter International Ltd., Basingstoke, UK, 2000. ISBN 3-82-976110-4
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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