Charm and Culture Await: 10 Quintessential Experiences for Discovering the Best of Portugal
Charm and Culture Await: 10 Quintessential Experiences for Discovering the Best of Portugal - Indulge in Pastéis de Belém at Antiga Confeitaria de Belém
No trip to Lisbon is complete without a stop at Antiga Confeitaria de Belém to try the city's famous custard tarts, known as pastéis de nata or pastéis de Belém. This bakery has been churning out the melt-in-your-mouth pastries since 1837 using a secret recipe passed down from generations of monks at the nearby Jerónimos Monastery.
As you approach the large whitewashed building decorated with 18th-century blue and white tiles, your senses will be overwhelmed by the heavenly aroma of freshly baked pastéis de Belém. Follow the tantalizing scent inside to the bustling counter area, where efficient attendants in white coats and caps swiftly arrange trays of the still-warm pastries.
Don't be deterred by the long line; it moves quickly. While you wait, gaze at the antique ovens, hand-painted tiles, and stacks of ingredients. When it's your turn, order a plate of six steaming hot pastéis de Belém. The crisp, flaky layers of pastry shell are filled with a secret custard recipe featuring high-quality ingredients like eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon.
Sink your teeth into the crust that shatters delicately, giving way to the warm, velvety custard filling inside. The vanilla sweetness combined with the slight saltiness of the shell creates a heavenly experience. As the melted custard coats your mouth, you'll want to linger over every crumb of the pastries made from a recipe unchanged since 1837.
Beyond the pastéis de Belém, Antiga Confeitaria de Belém offers other baked treats like croissants, bolos de arroz (sweet rice cakes), and queijadas de Sintra (cheesecake tarts). You can also order specialty coffee drinks, teas, and fruit juices to accompany your pastries.
The casual café-style seating both indoors and on the patio makes this bakery a pleasant spot to relax and soak in the ambiance. Watch locals and tourists alike enjoying this iconic Lisbon experience. Peak times tend to be mid-morning through early afternoon.
What else is in this post?
- Charm and Culture Await: 10 Quintessential Experiences for Discovering the Best of Portugal - Indulge in Pastéis de Belém at Antiga Confeitaria de Belém
- Charm and Culture Await: 10 Quintessential Experiences for Discovering the Best of Portugal - Marvel at the Tilework of the National Azulejo Museum
Charm and Culture Await: 10 Quintessential Experiences for Discovering the Best of Portugal - Marvel at the Tilework of the National Azulejo Museum
Beyond the tantalizing pastéis de Belém, visitors to Lisbon should not miss the chance to view the stunning tilework on display at the National Azulejo Museum. Housed in a former convent, this museum contains one of the world's largest collections of azulejo tiles that adorn buildings across Portugal.
The azulejo art form dates back over 500 years in Portugal. The painted, glazed ceramic tiles originated from Moorish influence and developed into a quintessential aspect of Portuguese architecture and design. The museum contains over 5,000 tiles showcasing this evolution through various periods and artistic styles.
Upon entering the contemplative 16th century cloister, your eyes will be drawn upwards to the domed ceilings and upper walls covered in intricate blue and white tile patterns. Delicate frames of colorful tiles contain religious imagery and pastoral scenes. You'll notice some tiles contain cracks and imperfections, reflecting their great age and the loving restoration work to preserve them.
In the Baroque chapel, one of the museum's highlights awaits. Here you can view a spectacular 23-panel series depicting the life of Saint Anthony. Your neck may crane to take in the vivid colors and rich details of these 17th century panels that once adorned the church walls.
Upstairs, stroll through room after room of tile collections spanning various eras and styles. Marvel at the fine brushwork of blue trailing vines in the Renaissance gallery. Chuckle at the comical hunting and fishing scenes animating 18th century panels. Admire the creativity of 20th century works incorporating Art Nouveau and Art Deco motifs.
Plan to spend at least a couple hours at the museum to fully appreciate the range of azulejo art on display. Visitors recommend getting lost wandering the halls and passageways to uncover stunning tilework around every corner. The captions for each piece provide insightful background to enrich your experience.
To complete your visit, be sure to browse the gift shop's wide selection of tile replicas, locally-made ceramics, decorative tiles, and books to continue appreciating Portugal's azulejo tradition. You may just feel inspired to incorporate some colorful tiles into your own home.