Early on Wednesday, August 2, 2023, the plane carrying the pope, his entourage and accredited journalists took off from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport for Lisbon. The flight landed at Figo Maduro Air Base at 10 a.m. local time. Francis was welcomed by President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. Then the pope and the president headed to a lounge, where a brief meeting took place.
From here they moved on to the main entrance of the Palácio Nacional de Belém. The palace was built in the 16th century by King Manuel I. From 1726 it was chosen as the place of residence of Portuguese rulers until the declaration of the Republic in 1911, when it became a presidential residence. Here, in the forecourt of Rua de Belém, the pope was again greeted by the president where the official welcoming ceremony took place.
At noon Francis moved to the Centro Cultural de Belém. The center was built between 1988 and 1992 as the headquarters of the Portuguese Presidency of the European Economic Community, until it became used as a cultural and conference center in 1993. The meeting with authorities, civil society and the diplomatic corps, about 1,000 people, was held here. Speeches by the president and the pontiff followed.