Built in 1515 as a fortress to guard the entrance to Lisbon's harbor, the Belem Tower was the starting point for many of the voyages of discovery, and for the sailors it was the last sight of their homeland.
It's a monument to Portugal's Age of Discovery, often serving as a symbol of the country, and UNESCO has listed it as a World Heritage monument.
Built in the Manueline style, it incorporates many stonework motifs of the Discoveries, sculptures depicting historical figures such as St. Vincent, and an exotic rhinoceros that inspired Dürer's drawing of the beast.
The architect, Francisco de Arruda, had previously worked on Portuguese fortifications in Morocco, so there are also Moorish-style watchtowers and other Moorish influences. Facing the river are arcaded windows, delicate Venetian-style loggias, and a statue of Our Lady of Safe Homecoming, a symbol of protection for sailors on their voyages.
Click here for fast-track access to Belém Tower,
or get FREE admission to Belem Tower, other attractions and ride Lisbon's metro, buses, and trams for free with the Lisboa Card.
Where: Avenida da India, Belem.
How: Train from Cais do Sodré (to Cascais, stopping at Belém station) or tram 15
When: 10AM-5PM (Oct.-April), 10AM-6:30PM (May-Sept.), Closed Mondays
How much: 6 euros or FREE with the Lisboa Card
Jeronimos Monastery - A World Heritage monument; Vasco da Gama's resting place.
Discoveries Monument - The world's explorers in stone.
Berardo Museum - World-class collection of modern art.
Coaches Museum - The world's largest collection of magnificent royal coaches.
Maritime Museum - The story of Portugal's pioneering role in world exploration at the sea.
Archaeology Museum - Archaeological finds from over the centuries.
Belem Cultural Center - Modern cultural center with regular exhibitions and events.
Tropical Garden - Beautiful garden with rare plants from around the world.
Belem Palace - The home of Portugal's President.
Memoria Church - Elegant neoclassical church.
Ajuda Palace - An extravagant royal palace.
Ajuda Botanical Garden - Beautiful gardens overlooking the river.
25 de Abril Bridge - Golden Gate's twin sister.
Docas - Attractive dock area with cosmopolitan bars and restaurants.
Monument to Christ - Christ opens His arms to the city.
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