A symbol of Portugal’s great era of expansion:
Torre de Belem or Belem Tower sits at the mouth of the Tagus and guards the entrance to the city. It’s another of Lisbon’s iconic attractions on the Lisbon waterfront.
Belem Tower was built as a fortress in the middle of the Tagus in 1515-21 and it was from here that the caravels set out to discover the trade routes.
When Manuel I came to power in 1495, he prospered from the expansionary period and commissioned grandiose monuments to reflect the spirit of the time. Belem Tower became a symbol of Portugal’s great era of discoveries.
The tower was built along the Manueline style of architecture which is a Portuguese adaptation of late Gothic. Torre de Belem and Mosteiro dos Jeronimos are believed to be the best examples of this architectural style still in existence. The building now serves as home to a Museum that has many relics of the discoveries on display.
Ornate features of the Exterior
The exterior of the Tower is adorned with stone-carved rope. Moorish watchtowers and battlements decorated with the cross of the Order of Christ are on the various layers of the monument. A statue of Our Lady of Safe Homecoming faces the sea, a symbol of protection for the sailors on their discover voyages.
There are many museums, parks and gardens in the Belem area. Along the attractive riverside setting can be found cafes and a promenade.