At the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, in Belém, next to the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (the Heironymite Monastery) there was a sugar cane refinery linked to a small general store. As a result of the liberal revolution of 1820, all convents and monasteries in Portugal were shut down in 1834, the clergy and labourers expelled.
In an attempt at survival, someone from the monastery offered sweet pastries for sale in the shop; pastries that rapidly became known as 'Pastéis de Belém'.
At that period the area of Belém was still far from the city of Lisbon and could be reached by steam-boats. At the same time, the grandeur of the monastery and the Torre de Belém (the Belém Tower) attracted visitors who soon grew used to savouring the delicious pastries originated in the monastery. In 1837, the baking of the 'Pastéis de Belém' was begun in buildings joined to the refinery, following the ancient 'secret recipe' from the monastery. Passed on and known exclusively to the master confectioners who hand-crafted the pastries in the 'secrets room', this recipe remained unchanged to the present day.
In fact, the only true 'Pastéis de Belém' contrive, by means of ascrupulous selection of ingredients, to offer even today the flavour of the time-honoured Portuguese sweetmaking.