A Antiga Confeitaria de Belém
The famous A Antiga Confeitaria de Belém manufactures and serves Lisbon’s most popular sweets: small egg yolks tartlets, which should be eaten still warm and well sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar. In 1834, after the expulsion of the religious orders from Portugal and to ensure their own sustenance, some of the monks of the Jerónimos Monastery put up for sale, at a sugar refinery at rua de Belém, some creamy and puff pastries. These sweets quickly became a success, thus adopting the name pastel de Belém and attracting visitors who came around this area, then still a suburb of Lisbon. It was the beginning of a century-old tradition that draws thousands of visitors to A Antiga Confeitaria de Belém for a coffee with a pastel de Belém or to buy a half-a-dozen pack in an iconic container.
When the Monastery was closed, businessman Domingos Rafael Alves bought the monks recipe and started a company that has remained in proprietorship of the same family for four generations. In 1837, he began the pastel de Belém manufacture in a space attached to the old sugar refinery and opened the bakery, which has remained in the same place since then, but expanding into a maze of countless rooms in these recent years. The recipe was also kept unchanged until today and is only known by the master bakers who swear not to divulge his secret. You can see part of the manufacturing process through a glass front at one of the rooms inside the bakery, offering an idea of what goes on in the kitchen. Every day are sold 20 000 pastries, a sign of the prestige earned in Lisbon and all around the world. The pastel de Belém bakery is open every day of the year and between June and September only closes at midnight.