Torre de Belém
Torre de Belém
Torre de Belém | Lisboa Avenida Brasília, Lisbon, Portugal Standing on the waterfront at Belem near the mouth of the River Tagus is the Torre de Belém, arguably the most iconic symbol of Lisbon. Originally conceived as a lighthouse, the tower was eventually built as a defensive fortress on the orders of King Manuel I. Architect Francisco de Arruda was tasked with designing the tower. Based in Évora and hailing from a long and illustrious line of royal surveyors and builders, de Arruda had worked on the nearby Mosteiro dos Jerónimos with his brother Diogo and similarly wrapped his new creation in a wealth of Manueline symbolism - highly decorative carved stone maritime motifs including twisted rope and the Cross of the Order of Christ. North African and Italian architectural influences are also apparent. When it was inaugurated in 1521, the tower would have been much further from the shore than it is today - the earthquake of 1755 shifted the river's course, and in the 19th century, land on the north bank was reclaimed, making the river narrower.Granted World Heritage status by UNESCO in 1983, the Belém Tower is today one of the most popular sightseeing attractions in Lisbon. Reached by a narrow walkway from Belem's broad esplanade, this quirky Manueline gem is a delight to explore. Kids especially will have endless fun playing hide and seek amongst the parapets, or scampering up and down the narrow spiral staircases.