One of Portugal’s best-loved historic monuments and a Lisbon icon, the Torre de Belém stands as a symbol of the Age of Discovery and the voyages of exploration undertaken in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Completed in 1521 as a fortress to defend the approaches to the River Tagus, the tower is regarded as a masterpiece of military architecture. Designed in the Manueline style by Francisco de Arruda, the façade is a confection of beautifully carved stone, typified by maritime motifs such as twisted rope and the armillary sphere.

An impressive Renaissance loggia heightens the decoration. The tower’s cultural significance is such that UNESCO has listed it as a World Heritage Site.

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