Belmonte is the birthplace of Pedro Álvares Cabral, the navigator who discovered the land of Vera Cruz, now known as Brazil. Located in the Church of Santa Maria is the iconic statue of Nossa Senhora da Esperança (Our Lady of Hope), which Cabral took with him in his voyage. Until 1834, the statue was held by the Monastery of Nossa Senhora da Esperança. The former religious facility has been adapted for use as a modern boutique hotel.
The singer Zeca Afonso lived in Belmonte for part of his childhood, between 1938 and 1940. He lived with his uncle, the mayor of the town, whilst his parents were living in Mozambique.
In 2003, the American Sephardi Federation founded the Belmonte Project, designated to raise funds to acquire Judaic educational material and services for the community, which now numbers 160-180. They opened a Jewish Museum of Belmonte (Portuguese: Museu Judaico de Belmonte) on 17 April 2005. In the summer of 2006, the American Sephardi Federation ceased to have the Belmonte Project under its auspices.[why?]