This tower was built to serve as a lookout point over the Tagus river and to defend the port of Lisbon. It was used as a fortress, a prison, a lighthouse and also as a telegraph office and a custom post.
The tower of Belèm is the only monument built completely in Manueline style in Lisbon, even if some of its decorations date from the renovation of the 1840. Its construction begun in 1515 and ended in 1521.
In Belèm; along the Tajo river, you can see this 52 m. high monument.
It was built in 1960 in memory of the 500th anniversary of Prince Hernry's death.
Several famous people are carved on this huge caravel shaped sculpture; Henry The Navigator, Vasco Da Gama and many others.
A small chapel - Santa Maria de Belém - was built here at the behest of Prince Henry the Navigator on the site where the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos now stands. The monastery was itself commissioned by D. Manuel I. The magnificence of the building reflects the universalist vision of its founder and the powerful financial resources that the Portuguese crown then enjoyed.
The sixteenth century in Portugal was profoundly connected to the Discoveries and the Messianic idea of the Empire, inspiring a unique style that came to be known as ''Manueline'', since it was developed in the reign of D. Manuel I. The decorative features carved out of the monastery' s stone (many of which, such as ropes, fish and conches, were inspired by the sea) should be studied carefully for they are perhaps the most stimulating way of discovering more about this unique contribution that Portugal made to the art of stonework.
The monument's original design is the work of the architect Boytac, and its construction began in I502. This was the initial phase of building work that was to be continued by other Masters, namely João de Castilho and, in the middle of the century, Diogo de Torralva.
Begin by observing the south-facing façade, whose main feature of interest is the portal, the work of João de Castilho, surmounted by a tympanum of carved stone, including low reliefs showing scenes from the life of St. Jerome and the royal coat of arms. In the centre is a statue of Prince Henry the Navigator wielding a sword and, at the upper level, a statue of Our Lady of Belém, covered by a finely carved canopy. The whole of the portal seems to be physically raising itself skywards, with the figure of the Archangel Gabriel, Portugal's guardian angel, at the very top.
Belèm is a district of Lisbon. It is located six kilometers from the city center.
One of its main attractions is the Jeronimos Monastery (1502-1551); a huge white building with a magnificient carved portal and a big two-storeys cloister. Not far from the monastery there is the Discovery monument (see tip). After quite a long walk you arrive to the Tower of Belèm. It was built between 1515 and 1520. This is the only monument built completely in Manueline style in Lisbon.
Belèm is located alongside the river Tagus. You can go there by tram n. 15 from Commerce Square.
Most of my stay in Lisbon was all around Belem. This is because I was told before I left that this is where the attractions are. Also, I took an hotel in Belem. So, it was easy to do the tour of most of the touristic place on foot. The monument in this picture was taken in the belem park, which is very well positioned close to the water front.
Fondest memory: Across the monument lies the Presidents house, and the whole place was quite and the feeling is just great. Lots of flowes, trees good company of other tourist that are having a look in the woods.
The Lisbon card is a card that gives you free public transport, free entry to many monuments and museums and discounts on even more places.
The card can be a good deal if yuo plan to do a lot of sightseeing in little time and plan to travel a lot around the city.
The price of the Lisbon card is:
Adults 1 day 16,00 €
Adults 2 days 27,00 €
Adults 3 days 33,50 €
Favorite thing: If you're staying in Lisbon over the weekend, make sure you visit Belem on a Sunday as all of the attractions are free to enter between 10am and 2pm. I found it a bit of a struggle to visit all of them in this time and so had to pay for the National Coach Museum but if you do manage to cram in the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, Museu Nacional de Arqueologia, Museu de Marinha, Belem Tower and National Coach Museum in this time, you could save yourself €24!
Because of Vasco da Gama´s return, the monastery - Mosteiro dos Jerónimos - was orderded to be build by Dom Manuel I. The former chapel and the monastery used to be places where sailors kept their vigil before departing.
The architecture is famous of it´s Manueline decoration and religious and secural carvings.
===> continues next page
Favorite thing: When you continue by walking upriver (somebody said it´s not so far away, but it took a lot of time!) from Belém towards the city center, you reach the Discoveries Monument with figures of all the famous portuguese explorers, poets and painters.
Visit Belem Monastary. I only got to see the exterior b/c I arrived too late to see the interior.
As you can see by the picture, the exterior is quite impressive.
Fondest memory: Meeting up with one of mom's cousins, whom I'd never met before and experiencing warm generosity.
Visit Belem, we left it till quite late in the afternoon and hopped on one of the trams, which were fabulous..the journey takes you past the statue like the one in Rio De Janeiro spolied only by the huge Solero advert unfurling down it.
Belem has a huge monastary, a lovely modern culture centre and best of all Belem CAKES. It would be wrong to suggest that they are just like custard tarts, they have a lot more flavour than that, perhaps it would be truer to say that they taste a little like Creme Brulee in a tart.
Fondest memory: I love arriving in new places. Lisbon was no different, we arrived and realised this was the first time we had had to manage on our own with no knowledge of Portugese and no idea where the station was in relation to the city and so the adventure began with two contrasts
We decided to have our usual late lunch (at around 4pm) and took our lives in our hand crossing the road from the station to right beseide the sea, there relatively in the middle of nowhere was an oasis of calm, a trendy 'house stuff' shop with a beautiful restaurant playing jazz music. Although noone with any sense sits outside in the sun, being northerners that is precisely what we did, the only people out on the deck surrounded by mahogany coloured table and sea coloured umbrellas..inside there seemed to be few more people, just a cleaner pottering around. We had a lovely healthy sald, with no fish in sight and gazed out to sea feeling very surreal.
This was to be contrasted by the scene about half an hour later when, back at the station we were attempting to book a place to stay, calling up places and speaking atrocious pigeon portugese, we hung up at one point because someone actually answered back and we didn't have a scooby what was going on! Eventually booked the place mentioned below, I now understand the reason they wanted us to hurry was because they would happily have given the room away if we didn't get our backsides in gear!
Torre de Belém
The Tower of Belém was built in an effort to defend the estuary of the river Tagus(Tejo). King Dom João II had wanted to kick away ships from the river, but it was only his successor Dom Manuel I who ended up building the tower. It was designed by architect and scupltor Francisco Arruda, with notable traces of Moorish influence. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Right infront of the Tower of Belem is the:
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
This sixteenth century monastery began to be built in the reign of Dom Manuel I to celebrate the discovery of the sea route to India. It was finished in the reign of Dom João III. It is one of the most important buildings in Portugal, and has been classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Favorite thing: The Discoveries Monument is a reminder that Lisbon was a starting point for many of the world's great 15th century voyages of discovery. There are great bird's-eye views of the historical Belem district from above.
Favorite thing: There are a couple of museums of special interest inside the Jeronimos Monastery. One is the Maritime Museum, showing Portuguese caravels and other aspects of the discoveries, the other is the Archeological Museum, with prehistoric, Roman, and Moorish finds from throughout the country.