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Cultural Centre of Belém

The largest cultural complex in Portugal, hosting opera, ballet, symphony concerts and much more.

TravelCurious Tip

If you want to rest your feet for a moment, try the terrace cafe on the first floor with a garden overlooking the river and the Discoveries Monument

From Manueline to Modernist

Located in Santa Maria de Belém, near the riverfront west of Lisbon, the Cultural Centre of Belém cuts a sharp contrast with the nearby Jerónimos Monastery. Where the monastery is built in an almost decadently ornate Manueline style using honey-gold limestone, the cultural centre is a rather more austere, brutal and grey structure, though no less beautiful if that’s to your taste.


The Culture

The colossal building was initially intended to accommodate the European Presidency, but has since been adapted to offer spaces for conferences, exhibitions and all sorts of artistic events. It hosts some of the world’s foremost touring operas, ballets and art displays, in addition to being the permanent home of the Berardo Museum.


The Berardo Museum holds a remarkable private collection with at any time more than 250 pieces of Berardo’s estimated 4,000 pieces of contemporary art on display. Amassed by the Portuguese magnate Joe Berardo, it includes works by Warhol, Picasso, Dalí, Duchamp, Magritte, Jackson Pollock and Malevich.


As such, it spans the whole spectrum of contemporary art, from surrealism through to pop art. It is one of the finest collections in the world; any art fan must be sure to pay it a visit. Whatever you do, don’t miss Andy Warhol’s Ten Foot Flowers, Picasso’s Femme dans un fauteil (Métamorphose) or Francis Bacon’s Oedipus and the Sphinx After Ingres.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Lisbon
Discoveries Monument
A monument celebrating the Portuguese Age of Discovery during the 15th and 16th centuries.
Jerónimos Monastery
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a prime example of the exuberant Manueline architectural style.
Calouste Gulbenkian Planetarium
This planetarium in the Belém quarter projects stunning astronomical shows inside its 25-metre dome.
Electricity Museum
A magnificent building that hosts exhibitions about the evolution of energy.
National Coach Museum
The most popular museum in Lisbon proudly displays one of the world's finest collections of historical carriages.
Belém Tower
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this fortified tower was used defence and ceremony during the Golden Era.

Related Tours

Private guided tour of Beautiful Belém from Lisbon with skip the line tickets
Visit Belém to see some of Lisbon’s most famous delights, from UNESCO World Heritage-listed towers and monasteries to monuments, museums and famous custard tarts.
 
  • Visit the 17th century Belém Palace, home to the Portuguese monarchy for centuries
  • See the UNESCO-listed Torre de Belém, a seafront tower
  • Tour the Gothic Jerónimos Monastery for grand Manueline architecture
  • Marvel at the sail-shaped Discoveries Monument
  • Explore cultural treasures at the National Carriages and Maritime Museums
  • Try a delicious Pastel de Belém, Portugal’s famous custard tart
Set on the waterfront, beautiful Belém is symbolic of Lisbon’s seafaring past, once home to Lisbon’s shipyards and docks. It was from here that 15th-century voyages launched, blazing a trail of discovery across oceans to India, East Africa and Brazil. Discover Belém with an expert local guide on this four-hour tour, which takes in the area’s most historic landmarks.
 
Golden Age of Discovery
 
Belém is the perfect place to learn about Portugal’s Golden Age of Discovery, where the 15th-century explorers set sail to discover new worlds. Today their voyages are commemorated by the sail-shaped Discoveries Monument. These discoveries gave rise to incredible wealth from Portugal’s new colonies, which funded Belém’s grand buildings, parks and leafy plazas. Take in views of the 17th century Belém Palace, home to the Portuguese Royal Family for centuries and a prime example of English Baroque design.
 
Belém is famed for its remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the 16th century Torre de Belém, a thin, stone tower which has become one of Portugal’s most photographed monuments. The gothic Jerónimos Monastery also claims UNESCO credentials, with its stunning Manueline architecture. To delve deeper into Belém’s history, you’ll spend some time perusing the Maritime Museum and Cultural Center of Belém as well as the National Carriages Museum, which boasts the biggest collection of royal carriages in the world.
 
Portuguese Sweet Treats
 
After your fill of Portuguese history, you can unwind by tasting a Pastel de Nata, the traditional Portuguese custard tart. These originated in Belém and have been sold on the steps of Jerónimos Monastery by the same bakery since 1837. Enjoy one of these delicious, iconic Portuguese treats for a small extra cost, while savouring the views of Belém’s beautiful monuments.

No visit to Lisbon would be complete without visiting Belém and this compact tour is the perfect way to get to grips with this historic neighbourhood and its ornate landmarks. 
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