Palácio de Belém


The salmon-slabbed 16th-century Belém Palace is Portugal's official presidential residence and office (though the country's previous president, Cavaco Silva, chose to live in his own home). Tours in Portuguese, English and French are available on Saturday only, with just 150 spots up for grabs (book in advance via phone or email). Alternatively, the small but fascinating Museu da Presidência da República is open most of the week.

The palace was once used as a royal summer home by King João V and it was here that King José I and his family survived the 1755 earthquake unharmed. After many years of abandonment, it was revived as a royal residence at the end of the 19th century (in 1910 the Portuguese monarchy's last state dinner was held here) and became the official presidential residence in 1951. Tour highlights include Queen Maria I's lion cages in the entrance courtyard (she kept lions as a symbol of Portugal's nationalistic might); the gilded wood ceilings of the striking Golden Room; vivid hand-sewn Portalegre tapestries based on 1945 Alamada paintings in the Empire Room; and the exquisitely manicured Great Garden.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Belém attractions

1. Museu da Presidência da República

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5. Mosteiro dos Jerónimos

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6. Museu Nacional de Arqueologia

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8. Padrão dos Descobrimentos


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