On the banks of the River Tagus, the Tower of Belém stands as a symbol of the Portuguese Discoveries and the foundation of the Modern Age. For this reason, UNESCO has added it to the list of World Heritage sites.
Lisbon was once the capital of an immense maritime empire, symbolized by this monument. To our eyes, it’s an historic building of carved stone, but to its contemporaries it was an awesome stronghold at the entrance to the Tagus, creating crossfire with a fortress on the opposite bank.
Although commissioned by King Manuel I in the 16th Century, the square tower is reminiscent of old medieval castles.
At the time, the fortress was the most modern of designs; with open cannon emplacements at sea level ready for firing at the enemy.
In the 19th Century, symbols of Manueline art were added to the tower, such as shields with the Cross of the Order of Christ, twisted ropes in stone and armillary spheres.
Facing the river at the top of the fortress, you feel like you’re in the bows of a ship, with magnificent views over the Tagus.