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Torre de Belém
NileGuide Expert Says:
The tower's architecture and role in Portugal's 16th-century maritime expansion has earned it UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
Avenida Brasília, Lisbon, Portugal
21 362 0034
NileGuide Expert tip:
The real beauty of Torre de Belém is its Manueline façade. The interior is fairly bland by comparison and you may want to save on the entrance fee.
The Belém Tower dates from the early 16th century and was built as a sea fortress to defend the approaches to Lisbon. Fortunately it was never used in any battle and today is one of the city's most emblematic monuments. Its exterior is a delightful confection of the Manueline architectural style combined with Moorish, Renaissance and Gothic flourishes. Seafaring and navigational elements abound, with rope and knots carved in stone and sculptured armillary spheres decorating the façade. A statue of Our Lady of Safe Homecoming stands on the main deck and reinforces the symbolism of maritime exploration that the tower represents. The interior of the building is less eccentric and comprises a vaulted dungeon lined with cannon and the now empty Governor's Room. Splendid views of the River Tejo can be enjoyed from the battlements and the domed watchtowers that lean over the water's edge. © NileGuide2011