Belém Travel GuideBrowse 1 travel reviews, 2 travel blogs and 105 travel photos from real travelers to Belém.
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Portugal is administratively divided into Municipalities ("Municípios" or "Concelhos", in Portuguese). Each Municipality is then subdivided into civil parishes ("Freguesias", in Portuguese). A "Freguesia" is mostly a combination of several or one single neighborhood.
The city of Lisbon corresponds entirely to the area of 24 civil parishes that make the Municipality of Lisbon.
Like in the rest of the country, each civil parish have their own Assembly and a President that runs its territory and the basic needs of the neighborhood(s) populations.
In the case of Lisbon, the Presidents of all civil parishes of the city are automatically elected to the city Municipal Assembly, as well as a number of elected deputies. The Municipal Assembly supervises Lisbon's executive board of the Municipality, lead by an elected Mayor. Thus the Mayor of the city of Lisbon runs above all 24 civil parishes.
It is important to understand that if there are some guide books or confused locals referring to Belém as "a separate town" or even a "suburb of Lisbon", they are wrong and misleading.
Belém is a civil parish by force of law since the XIX century. For a brief period of time in the second half of the XIX century, Belém was indeed an autonomous Municipality.
However, in 1885 and 1886, successive laws defined the new limits of the city of Lisbon until Algés as well as the Municipality of Belém was extinct (but not the civil parish). So Belém was from then on incorporated within the city of Lisbon.
Belém is therefore, without a shadow of doubt, part of the city of Lisbon (and Lisbon's west-southernmost civil parish) for more than 125 years.
The west-side of the city of Lisbon ends in Belém's border with Algés (that is part of Oeiras Municipality). The last southwest area of Lisbon is the Doca de Pedrouços and the CRIL highway.
From Belém many trade ships left to explore the corners of the world. Because of this Belém became an essential part of the Portuguese Golden Century. Most important sights are the stunning Torre de Belém, the Mosteiro dos Jeronimus and the carriage museum in the eastern wing of the Palacio de Belém.