It was elected one of Portugal’s 7 Wonders, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most singular monuments in Lisbon. We are talking about Torre de Belém, or Belém Tower.
It was built in the early 16th century, between 1514 and 1519 and its main function was to work as part of a defense system at the mouth of the Tagus river as well as to stand as ceremonial gateway to the city Lisbon, once an important player on the maritime discoveries process.
Its architectural style is a mix of several elements, including the famous Manuelino (after Manual I, king of Portugal), the Moorish style as well as some gothic and oriental elements.
The original plan, was designed by Francisco de Arruda and it is clear that the architect wished to include a number of elements directly related to Portugal and the maritime discoveries. In fact, if you look close, you might find armillary spheres, ropes made of stone, the cross of Christ and Portugal’s Coat of arms decorating the walls.
Although it is not very high, Torre de Belém is divided by 5 floors and all of them can be visited: on the first floor there’s the Governor’s Room, on the second floor you will find the Kings’ Room (with a beautiful elliptic ceiling), on the third floor there’s the Audience Room, the chapel is located on the fourth floor and the last floor, the fifth one, is occupied by an ample terrace where you can enjoy a clear view of the river Tagus and 25 de Abril Bridge.
Torre de Belém is located in Santa Maria de Belém parish, close to several other must see monuments, such as Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Jerónimos Monastery) and Padrão dos Descobrimentos so clear your schedule for the day and discover all the gems this Lisbon area hosts.
> Opens from 10:00 to 17:30 (last admission at 17:00) October to May and from 10:00 to 18:30 (last admission at 17:00) May to September. Closed: Mondays and 1 January, Easter Sunday, 1 May, 13 June and 25 December.
> Regular price: 6€ For discounts and combined tickets go to the Torre de Belém website.
> Insider tip: when it was built, Torre de Belém used to be located on a small island, surrounded by water. After the great 1755 earthquack, Tagus river was redirect so now a days the tower is connected to land but if you want to experience what it was when this small piece of land was an island, try to visit Torre de Belém when the tide is high and the river embraces the building.