Belém is known as the historic district of the Age of Discovery. It was from its waterfront that Vasco da Gama and other explorers departed for their voyages, events celebrated today by grand monuments and museums in the neighborhood.
The sensational architecture of the Tower of Belem and Jeronimos Monastery (both World Heritage Sites) is the result of the discovery of the sea route to India, the opening of trade with Japan, and the colonization of Brazil and parts of Africa and Asia. These monuments are adorned and embellished with motifs of exotic lands elaborately carved in stone, as are the heroes of the age on the colossal Discoveries Monument.
This is also Lisbon's museum district, with the one-of-a-kind Coaches Museum filled with royal fairytale vehicles, the Berardo Museum showcasing a world-class collection of international contemporary and modern art, and the iconic MAAT.
Despite all these attractions, it's a pastry shop that receives the most visitors. At Antiga Confeitaria de Belém (simply known as "Pastéis de Belém" or "Belém pastries") you may devour one or several of Lisbon's famous custard tarts that originated on this site, and that are still unlike any others found around the country, made here from a secret recipe.
Going up the hill through Calçada da Ajuda, you reach the neighborhood of Ajuda, home to the royal palace and a beautiful botanical garden.