Portuguese monuments - Belém Tower

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3 years ago

Belém Tower is one of the seven wonders of Portugal and has also been considered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It's undoubtedly one of the monuments that best identifies Lisbon, the Portuguese capital.

Today we can visit the Belém Tower in one of the most beautiful areas of Lisbon, but it was not always so. Initially, the Belém Tower was built on the right bank of the Tagus River, next to Belém Beach and its entire perimeter was surrounded by the river.

However, the river was leaving sand lodged around it, so that, over time, the beach of Belém began to extend to the Tower.

Today, when we visit this place, we have solid ground to the north, east and west, while to the south, the tower is surrounded by the Tagus.
This is a Manueline style monument that stands out for its implicit nationalism, and is surrounded by decorations by decorations with the Coat of Arms of Portugal.

In the bastion windows we can see inscribed crosses of the Order of Christ.

When we look at this monument, for its architecture, we can notice the extravagance with which we lived in Portugal at the time the Tower was built the beginning of the Modern Age, when Portugal was a global power.

Belem Tower History

Initially, the Belém Tower was designed to integrate the defensive system of the Tagus River Bar, which had been designed by D. João II and was integrated into the right bank of the river by the Baluarte de Cascais and on the left bank by the Baluarte da Caparica.

However, it was not until 1514, under the reign of King Manuel I, that the Tower began to be built. Its location was on a set of rocks in the waters of the river, where formerly was an old artillary ship that was anchored there and from which the fleets to the Indies used to depart.

The architect who designed the Belém Tower was Francisco de Arruda, and the works were under the responsibility of Diogo Boitaca, who at that time also directed the works of the Jerónimos Monastery, on land, near the beach of Belém. The works of the Belém Tower were completed in the year 1520.

Obviously, as the means of attack and defense evolved, the defensive function for which the Tower of Bethlehem was designed became obsolete. However, this space continued to be used in favor of Kingdom interests. Among other functions, the Belém Tower has even served as a telegraph signaling station and lighthouse. In addition, their storerooms were used as dungeons for political prisoners.

Over the centuries, the Tower of Belém underwent several renovations, and during the eighteenth century, were renovated the niche of the Virgin facing the river, the bastion of the bastion, the battlements and the cloister.

Belem Tower Features

Like all Manueline-style monuments, Islamic and Eastern influences are reflected there, marking the end of medieval tradition with its keep and rehearsing one of the country's first fortresses.

Its exterior is characterized by various sculptures alluding to the discoveries, such as ropes and knots, and also by the shield-shaped battlements with armillary spheres, Moorish-style watchtowers. Here we can also get the first representation of a rhino found in Europe.

The structure of the Belém Tower is composed of two main elements: the tower and the bastion. Since in the corners of the terrace there are cylindrical shacks, decorated in stone masonry.

The interior of the tower is divided into five floors, which are arranged in the following order Governor's Room, Kings Room, Audience Room, Chapel and Tower Terrace.

As for the bulwark nave, it is ventilated by a cloister, opening 16 cannon for shallow artillery fire. The embankment is lined with battlements and is the second line of fire. This is where we can find the Shrine to the Virgin of Restelo.

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Avatar for portugalcoin
3 years ago


This is very beautiful. I love the architecture! In the beginning of your article you mentioned that the belem tower is one of the seven wonders of Portugal. What are the others?

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