Torre de Belém
The Torre de Belém is one of Lisbon’s landmarks and one of the most visited monuments and it recently celebrated its 500th anniversary.
Built in 1514-20 by Francisco Arruda and designed by Diogo Boitac, this defensive tower is a jewel of the Manueline architectural style, combining Moorish, Renaissance and Gothic elements into an amazing whole.
When the tower was built, the northern river bank was by the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and so the tower stood on an island closer to the middle of the river, controlling the ships’ approach in a more effective way.
Like in every monument there are spots not to be missed when visiting the Torre de Belém:
The Governor’s Room as a unique acoustic that amplifies the slightest whisper, this was where the tower’s governor discharged his duties.
On the Watchtowers the Moorish influence is well noted, their domes are seated on Manueline rope-like to a pile of small spheres reminiscent of the tops of chess pieces.
A statue of “Nossa Senhora do Bom Sucesso” or “Nossa Senhora das Uvas” located in the “Terraço Baluarte” is facing the river, holding in one hand a bunch of grapes and a fig leaf and it is a sight not to miss. The image wished good luck to all of those who departed on the discoveries’ journeys.
And finally the Kings Room, a room that overlooks the main deck – comparisons to a ship are unavoidable here. The balconies on each side of the tower are pure Manueline. It is said that the kings liked to come here to view the arrival and departure of the ships.