Belém Tower is located near the Jerónimos Monastery and it is considered one of the most significant sights in Lisbon. Its other name is The Tower of Saint Vincent and it was built between 1514 and 1520. The tower is 35 meters high. The style in which it was made is manueline, and it is the work of the architect Francisco de Arruda from Portugal. The Manueline style was created by King Manuel I and it is a style that encompasses different stylistic directions of architecture, and you will see that as an example on this tower. This style refers to the late Gothic Portuguese style that was characteristic for the 16th century. His main motifs are marine, scenes of great discoveries and their symbols.
Apart from being dedicated to the Vasco da Gama expedition, the tower served to defend the city, it was a customs house, after that it was known as a telegraph station, then as a lighthouse, and at one time it also served as a prison. In the 16th century, Lisbon was given the epithet of a city where trade and sea voyages took place, and cultures mixed with its development. In order to protect the city, the Belém Tower was built, on the place where the old ship stood.
King John II was the initiator of the construction of towers in Lisbon. Of the three he started building on the Tahoe River, Belem was one of them. After his death, King Manuel I continued construction and named the tower after the patron saint of Lisbon, St. Vincent (of Belem). This was the starting point for all those who were crossing the Atlantic to America at the time. Although the tower was originally built on a small island, over time the island joined the mainland, so today it is said to lie on the banks of the Tahoe River.
There are a total of 5 floors and a ground floor with 16 cannon windows, as well as a pit that can be seen if you are visiting the tower, where the prisoners used to be. The stairs leading to the roof terrace and connecting the floors are narrow and spiral, and in order to climb to the roof terrace you sometimes need to wait in line.
What is also interesting to see, when you are here, is the west side of the facade where there is an interesting figure of an animal in the shape of a rhino. It was built because of the first rhinoceros that set foot in Lisbon in 1513, that is, in Europe, and was called Ganda. Ganda was a gift to King Manuel I from the Sultan of Portuguese India. People were amazed as they watched this animal, and after a short time, King Manuel I organized a fight between Ganda and an elephant. The elephant escaped, and after a few months the king presented the rhino to Pope Leo X. After Ganda had been in Rome for some time, they prepared him for the journey by boat that sank off the coast of Liguria. The rhino was in chains on the ship and failed to survive.
The Belem Tower was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1983. The tower houses the Royal Hall, the Governor's Hall, the Chapel, the Auditorium Hall and the Roof Terrace.
Ticket price for Belem Tower
Regular ticket price 6 euros
Reduced ticket price: 3 euros - for students and older then 65 years
Free entrance / for children up to 12 years
Working hours of Belem Tower
October / April from 10 a.m to 5:30 p.m
May / September from 10 a.m to 6:30 p.m
Closed on Mondays and on public holidays
Author of the text:
Maja Glavaš, Bachelor with Honours in Communicology. Works in Tourism.
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