Torre de Belém - Tower of Belém, Lisbon
The Coaches Museum (Museu Nacional dos Coches) is housed in a two storeys building that was an old horse riding arena used for training horses and for horse riding exibitions. Here you can see a large collection of horse drawn carriages, chaises and sedan chairs dated from the 17th to the 19th centuries. These belonged to the Portuguese royal family and nobility.
Once you visited the ground floor (it is made of two rooms) you can climb a staircase to the first floor where you can see several portraits of the Braganca dinasty and various other things.
Its construction was commissioned by king Manuel I to commemorate Vasco da Gama’ s voyage; to give thanks to the Virgin Mary for its success and to create a royal pantheon for the Aviz-Beja-Dinasty. The monastery was built on the site of a hermitage founded by Henry the Navigator around 1450. They begun to build it in 1502 and it took nearly the entire 16th century to complete it. Its predominant architectural style is Manueline (please, read tip on my Portugal page...).
The church of the monastery is also the resting place of Vasco Da Gama, Manuel I, his wife Maria and Luis De Camoes.
This monastery has a large double storey cloister. It was built in stages and designed by three architects. Diogo Boitac designed the lower floor in Manueline style.
It is hot in Lisbon in June. After viewing the tower, stop by Cafe do Fort for a cold drink, a bite to eat or even some ice cream! It's a great outdoor spot nearby; great for watching people as they stroll through the park and along the river.
My wife and I lunched at Cafe do Fort almost in the tower's shadow. It was great to sit down in the shade, have a cold drink and relax after walking and walking. The tower itself is fantastic; a must see when in Lisbon. The cafe is a nice spot right on the river for people watching too as the park adjacent is populated with strollers by.
Leaving from Belem, in March 30 1922, Gago Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral , succeeded in the first aerial crossing of South Atlantic. The plane, named "Lusitânia" is displayed close to the Tower, in the open garden.
It's free to see.
Walking along the riverside, you will arrive at the most paradigmatic neighborhood in terms of assets related to the findings:. BELÈM (Bethlehem) with its beach, which left the ships of Vasco da Gama to discover the sea route to India and around the side breathes the grandeur of the former empire.
At the waterfront, it is closely linked to the Age of Discovery, for it was here that the ships left to the discover. Today, it is a spacious area with large gardens and imposing monuments, such as the Jeronimos Monastery, the Monument to the Discoveries, the Torre de Belém, in addition to the Belém Cultural Centre.
Places to visit:
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
Museu Nacional dos Coches
Uma colecção única no mundo de viaturas de gala e de passeio dos séculos XVII ao XIX.
Padrão dos Descobrimentos
Descubra uma das melhores vistas de Lisboa, conheça as rotas e as principais personagens da Expansão Portuguesa.
Museu da Electricidade
Descubra o trabalho da antiga Central Tejo, as exposições temáticas e interactivas sobre energia e electricidade.
BBC - Belém Bar Café
Avenida Brasília Pavilhão Poente, 1300-598 Lisboa
Hotel Jerónimos 8
The Tower, which construction began in 1514 under supervision of Master Builder Diogo de Boytac, was build to defend Lisbon and its river entrance.
This superb example of the Manueline style (incorporation of elements from the oversea cultures) is a World Heritage site by the UNESCO. As a symbol of the King's prestige the tower’s decoration includes all the Manueline symbols - cables encircling the building and terminating in elegant knots, armillary spheres, crosses of the Military Order of Christ and naturalistic elements such as the rhinoceros, the first such representation in stone known in Europe.
A large symbol of the nautical Portuguese successes exploring the seas, close to the discoveries monument, has been drawn with colorful stones - the "Rosa dos Ventos".
Contrasting with the black in white of the typical Portuguese cobblestone pavement, this formation is better admired from the top of the adjacent monument.
Just a few meters west of the Tower of Belem, a monument inaugurated in 1994 celebrates the fighters in colonial war (about two hundred thousand and... me).
Surrounded by a long wall with the death's names, a modern formation pretends to be the symbol of the union among people.
OK! No problem. It's just beside the tower, can be seen in a glimpse, and, as a sample of modern architecture, it's better then the bunker called Cultural Center.
If you have plenty of time (and kids) The Planetarium, right beside the Jerónimos Monastery, may justify your visit.
Recreating the sky at night, their several sessions, presented in Portuguese, English and French, will tell you more about 'The solar system', 'The moon', 'The evolution of the stars", 'The movement of the earth', ' Earth - Planet Alive', 'The universe', 'The sun', 'The constellations' and many others.
You just have to choose the scheduled program.
Still with time? Good. The horse-drawn vehicles Museum (Museu Nacional dos Coches), right beside the Presidential Palace (a beauty from the 18th century, but closed to our eyes for natural reasons), has the best collections of classical vehicles in the world.
Showing several ceremonial vehicles used by the European courts, from the 17th to the late 19th century, it is one of the most visited museums in Portugal, and… with justice.
More time? National Archaeology Museum (Museu Nacional de Arqueologia), in the monastery, Navy Museum (Museu da Marinha), nearby, and Popular Art Museum (Museu de Arte Popular) in the buildings from the 1940’s exhibition also deserve your attention.
The Monument to the Discoveries was inaugurated in 1960 during celebrations of the 500 year anniversary of Infant D. Henrique (Henry the Navigator)'s death.
It evokes the maritime discoveries, and reproduces a model that was used in the 1940’s exhibition. With the shape of a caravel, it is headed by Henry the Navigator with the company of most of the historical Portuguese figures.
From the top, which you can access by elevator located inside the building, you have a magnificent view of the area, having at your feet the compass in paved stone offered by the Republic of South Africa, in 1960, to the celebration, and that between galleons and mermaids, shows the routes of the Portuguese discoverers.
Belém Tower was built in 1515, by order of king Manuel I according to the defense plan of the Tagus estuary decided by his antecessor, King João II.
The tower is replete with Manueline decoration, with crosses of the Military Order of Christ and some naturalistic elements such as the rhinoceros, said to be the first such representation in stone known in Europe.
If you have time you may go inside and up to the top, but if you are in a rush than maybe you'd better save your time for another highlight of the area –the monastery on the top of all.
If you have, at least, one day in Lisbon, Belem is one of the things you shouldn't miss. You may build your own program, from a couple of hours till one or more days.
Supposing that you will have only half day, then you can only have a glimpse of the ensemble of the Praça do Imperio, visit the Tower and Jeronimos. The area is still keeping the look won in 1940, when the political regime tried to make an impressive exhibition to hide the colonial nature of our possessions in Africa and Asia, spreading the idea of a multiracial, multicultural, and universal country.
The gardens and some buildings were kept. For instance, the Popular Art Museum (Museu de Arte Popular) and the restaurant in the artificial lake (Espelho de Agua) were part of the exhibition. But the real gems of Belem come from history, with Jeronimos and the Tower on top.
another wonderful monument of Lisbon and Portugal in a nice area with the sea before you, wonderful.
tickets in advance can be purchase here
Belém Tower or the Tower of St Vincent is a fortified tower .The tower was built in the early 16C (1515) and is a prominent example of the Portuguese Manueline style, but it also incorporates hints of other architectural styles. The tower was built on a small island in the Tagus River near the Lisbon shore.
The tower consists of a six-sided base with Moorish style turrets at each corner. A battery of canons were placed here and later the cross-vaulted basement was used as a prison. The terrace above the basement is decorated with a statue of St. Mary and child, meant to protect seafarers.
The upper floors of the tower contained the armory and private residences. Most interesting are the royal residences on the second floor, featuring a beautiful Italianate loggia with sculpted columns and several balconies with intricate carvings. On top of the upper floor is another terrace, which offers beautiful views over Belém and the Tagus river.
The Torre de Belém was originally completely surrounded by water but over the centuries the Tagus river receded and a section was filled in. The tower is now easily accessible from the riverbank by a walkway that brings visitors right to the entrance.
it is by Avenida Brasilia and closer to Avenida da India. Open from 10h to 17H from October to April and 10h to 18h30 from May to September. Closed Mondays. Admission is 5€ or free with lisbon card if seeing several monuments.
More at the tourist office here