Belem Tower, Lisbon, Portugal

The white worn out façade of Belem Tower is attractive; one can spot it from Discoveries Monument. The walk along the bank of River Tagus towards Belem Tower under the blue skies that day was pleasant.

Belem Tower

History of Belem Tower

Most historical monuments in Belem are from 16th century. Construction of Belem Tower was completed in 1521. Initially it functioned as a fortress to defend the mouth of the River Tagus, to guard the entrance to Lisbon’s harbor. The Belem Tower was the starting point for many of the voyages of discovery. It was located in a small island in the Tagus River.

The tower was built during the reign of King Manuel I. in Manueline architectural style (which combines Moorish, Gothic, and Renaissance elements). It had the typical carved stone maritime motifs like coiled and twisted rope, armillary spheres. For the sailors it was the last sight of their homeland, one can imagine how dear this must be to them!

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Heritage Site

Belem Tower was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. It is also included in the registry of the Seven Wonders of Portugal in 2007.

The walkway to the tower was well populated by the tourists and the entrance very crowded. The previous day’s pickpocket incident was still fresh in mind. We decided to skip entering the tower. A rope carved in stone goes all around the tower. Tour of interiors wouldn’t take long compared to time spent in that long queue.

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