Lisbon, Portugal : Monument to the Discoveries
The Padrao dos Descobrimentos, Monument to the Discoveries, was built in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator. Commissioned by the Salazar regime, it stands prominently on the Belem waterfront.
The monument recognizes all the people who participated in the development of the Portuguese Age of Discovery. The central figure behind Portuguese colonial expansion was Henry the Navigator. He was a pioneer of modern exploration which led to the discovery of the New World. On both sides of the Monument you’ll see stone statues of Portuguese heroes. On the eastern face for instance, the top five figures are (1) Henry the Navigator standing at the brow with a caravel in hand (2) In a kneeling position is Afonso V, patron of the first explorers (3) Vasco da Gama (4) Pedro Alvares Cabral, discoverer of Brazil and, (5) Magellan who crossed the Pacific in 1520. Other celebrated individuals include Henry’s mother Philippa of Lancaster, a poet, painter, famous navigators, cartographers and kings.
Regrettably we didn’t have the opportunity to go inside, however there is a lift that takes you up to the sixth floor and then a flight of steps leads you to the top for a panoramic view of Belem. The basement level is used for exhibitions which may not be related to the Discoveries.
Some locals don’t like the ostentatious monument, but from a tourist point of view, its iconic and it looks really dramatic against the blue skies and water.