Lisbon, Portugal : Belem Tower (Torre de Belem)
Torre de Belem or Belem Tower sits at the mouth of the Tagus and guards the entrance to the city. It is another iconic monument on the Belem waterfront. The 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 profited from the expansionary period and commissioned grandiose monuments to reflect the spirit of the time. The tower became a symbol of Portugal’s great era of discoveries. It 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 architecture still in existence. The building now acts as home to a Museum that has many relics of the discoveries on display.
There are many museums, parks and gardens in the Belem area. Along the attractive riverside setting can be found cafes and a promenade.