Belém Tower, Lisbon

Aerial video of the Efteling
The surroundings of Efteling
Belém Tower, Lisbon-Portugal

The Torre de Belém, or Belem Tower, was constructed in 1515 to serve as a fortress for the purpose of guarding Lisbon Harbor's entrance. As such, the tower was often the starting point for many exciting voyages. Unfortunately, for all too many sailors, it was also often the last thing they saw of their homeland.

Highlights of the Exterior

Located in the north side of the Tejo River, the Torre de Belem was named a World Heritage site due to its historical significance and unique architecture. While standing on the front steps leading to the tower, you will have a perfect view of a magnificent rhino, which is thought to be a symbol of a gift given to Manuel I from the Sultan of Cambay.

Above the tower's turrets are statues of the Archangel Michael and St. Vincent, the patron saint of Lisbon. On the fourth floor's level there is a lovely balcony featuring the Cross of the Order of Christ. As you walk across the gangway, you will arrive at the drawbridge, which once protected the tower from invaders.

Exploring the Tower's Interior

As you enter the tower, you can view the interior of its bulwark, which is home to the tower's artillery. In the center there is a quaint open patio, which is surrounded by Gothic arches that once helped dispel smoke from cannons. Under the bulwark's nave are several magazines that served both as storage rooms and dungeons.

To the right of the entrance is a steep staircase leading to the bulwark terrace. Here, you will find six projected turrets with various ribbed cupolas and lookout windows. In the center is a parapet that surrounds the open space of the patio below. On the south end of the parapet is an image of Our Lady of Safe Homecoming, who was believed to protect sailors.

Other Interesting Features

These are just some of the most interesting features of Belem Tower. Other features you will not want to miss include King Manuel I's royal coat of arms, the Governor's Room, the King's Room, the Audience Room and the Chapel. If you choose to climb all the way to the top of the tower, you will reach the Tower Terrace.

The Tower Terrace allows you to view the breathtaking scenery of the area below. From here, you can see the Tejo estuary, the Jeronimos Monastery, the Chapel of St. Jerome, the Belem Cultural Center and Monument to the Discoveries. All of this and more is waiting for you when you visit the spectacular Torre de Belem.