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Santa Maria de Belém, or just Belém is a parish of Lisbon, Portugal, located 6 km west of the present city centre and 2 km west of Ponte 25 de Abril (25 April Bridge). Its name is derived from the Portuguese for Bethlehem.

Belém is famous as the place from which many of the great Portuguese explorers set off on their voyages of discovery. In particular, it is the place from which Vasco da Gama departed for India in 1497. It is also a former royal residence and features the 17th-18th century Belém Palace, former royal residence and now occupied by the President of Portugal, and also nearby, in the Ajuda Parish, there is the Ajuda Palace, begun in 1802 but never completed.

I made this picture from the top of the Monument to the Discoveries in a cloudy day

In foreground you can see the restaurants surrounded by water

Belém's most notable modern feature is the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries). This is a 52m high slab of concrete, erected in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator. The monument is carved into the shape of the prow of a ship in which stand statues of various explorers, as well as a statue of Henry himself. Adjacent to the monument is a square into whose surface is set a map showing the routes of various Portuguese explorers.

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Additional Photos by Aires dos Santos (AiresSantos) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6708 W: 209 N: 14053] (56155)
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