In Belém, next to the famous monastery of jerónimos there used to be a small sugar refining factory and shop. In 1820 there was a liberal revolution in Portugal which forced all the monasteries and convents to shut down in the year 1834 making all those employed and part of the monasteries redundant.
Someone from the monastery started making a sweet pastry that was sold in the sugar cane refinery shop as a way for survival. The pastry soon got to be very popular amongst the sea men visiting and harbouring in Belém and in 1837 the name Pastéis de Belém was established.
The factory now is world famous and much visited for the wonderful Pastéis de Belém and even on a cold winter day you will find yourself standing in line with the locals to eat them.
The recipe has remained secret to this day and is only known to those preparing them. Even though much copied and sold all over Portugal under the name Pastel de nata none has managed to come close to the subtle taste of the original Pastéis de Belém, which can only be bought from the factory in Belém