Jerónimos Monastery

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a prime example of the exuberant Manueline architectural style.

TravelCurious Tip

Make the most of your trip to Belém: be sure to visit the Tower, and also try some Pastéis de Belém!

A Passage to India

Where the Jerónimos Monastery now stands, near the coast of Belém, there was once a rather more humble hermitage, founded by Henrique the Navigator. The nearby harbour used to shelter ships before sending them on their great voyages during Portugal’s ‘Age of Discovery’, and the hermitage and its monks helped prepare them. Vasco da Gama and his men passed the night in prayer there before setting out on their famous journey to India in 1497.

Nautical Style

During the 16th century the church was rebuilt as a grand monastery to celebrate the success of that same voyage. The result is an exemplar of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture. It is a richly ornate style that often incorporates maritime themes, here carved into calcário de lioz, a golden limestone quarried from Ajuda. Scalloped arches, coils of rope and shell-like turrets nestle among the usual motifs of leaves and vines.

The monastery was founded in celebration of - and funded by - Portugal’s Age of Discovery. Portuguese vessels reaped wealth from Africa, Asia and South America, and held tight control of the spice trade through their navy. However, the monks were moved out in 1833 when the building became state property; it was then used as a rather magical orphanage until 1940 and is now open to visitors. It is certainly one of the most beautiful buildings in Lisbon.

The Great and the Good

Inside the church Vasco de Gama himself is interred in the lower chancel, across from the 16th century poet Luís Vaz de Camões, author of the epic The Lusiads in which he lauds the exploits of Da Gama and his compatriots. And these two are not alone: other great figures in Portuguese history are entombed here, including King Manuel and King Sebastião, as well as the poets Fernando Pessoa and Alexandre Herculano.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Lisbon
Discoveries Monument
A monument celebrating the Portuguese Age of Discovery during the 15th and 16th centuries.
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.
Cultural Centre of Belém
The largest cultural complex in Portugal, hosting opera, ballet, symphony concerts and much more.

Related Tours

Private Belém tour from Lisbon: Jerónimos Monastery, Belém Tower & River Cruise
Travel from central Lisbon to Belém with your tour guide to see some of Lisbon’s most famous landmarks such as the Belém tower and Jerónimos Monastery. 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. End the tour with a panoramic river cruise back to central Lisbon. 
  • All-inclusive and fully guided tour Private tour with an Expert Licensed guide (all tickets and costs included)
  • Learn of Portugals rich Naval history and its age of world exploration in the Belem neighbourhood
  • See the UNESCO-listed Torre de Belém and the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (from the outside)
  • Enjoy a fully guided tour of Jerónimos Monastery Church and Cloister (tickets included) 
  • Enjoy a Cruise along the Tagus river - see the 25th of April bridge and the Cristo Rei statue - accompanied by your tour guide (tickets included)

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. 
Private Lisbon & Belem Full Day Walking Tour & River cruise (tickets included)
Portugal's capital city of Lisbon is built upon seven hills known as the seven giants — São Jorge, São Vicente, São Roque, Santo André, Santa Catarina, Chagas e Sant'Ana — all of them visible when arriving in Lisbon by river. This private walking tour of Lisbon & Belém will take you through the city, past its iconic landmarks, castles, and gardens and will include a River Cruise to boot. On your private tour, you will:

  • Enjoy an all-inclusive and fully guided private tour with an expert, licensed guide.
  • Enjoy a fully guided tour of Lisbon Castle, enjoy the spectacular views over the city and walk the walls of the medieval fortress (tickets included).
  • See the top sites of the city centre, from the city's highest viewpoint to the waterfront pier in the historic commercial centre.
  • Visit Sé Cathedral, often just known as Sé—one of the city’s oldest and most well-known sites, which has withstood several natural disasters, including the 9.0 earthquake of 1755. (tickets included). 
  • Walk down streets lined with artisanal shops and learn about the craft of the colourful Portuguese azulejo tiles.  
  • Enjoy time in the old harbour and Praça do Comércio, where the royal palace stood for over two hundred years until 1755. Today its’ massive plaza with surrounding yellow buildings make it one of the city’s most recognisable squares. 
  • Learn of Portugals rich Naval history and its age of world exploration in the Belem neighbourhood. 
  • See the UNESCO-listed Torre de Belém and the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (from the outside).
  • Enjoy a fully guided tour of Jerónimos Monastery Church and Cloister (tickets included) .
  • Enjoy a Cruise along the Tagus river - see the 25th of April bridge and the Cirsto Rei statue - accompanied by your tour guide (tickets included)"

From imposing São Jorge Castle, the view encompasses the old city’s faded pastel-coloured buildings, Tagus Estuary and Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge. Arguably one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Lisbon is a city of colourful balconies and views, trams and cobbled streets. Belém is a laid-back area of Lisbon on the Tagus River, known for its colourful houses and breathtaking landmarks that recall Lisbon’s seafaring history, like the 16th-century Tower of Belém. Your tour will end after the cruise back in central Lisbon. 


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