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. The rest of us, meanwhile, can contemplate the achievements of Portugal's bravest navigators who departed near this historic landmark to chart unknown lands 500 years ago.One of Lisbon's most iconic buildings, the Tower of Belém typifies the Manueline style of architecture that is symbolic of Portugal's great era of expansion. Constructed on a hexagonal floor plan, the four-story tower was created in the shape of a ship's bow jutting into the water. The main façade of the fortress faces the sea and offers a completely different impression of the tower from that enjoyed along the riverbank. Built from ivory-white limestone, the real beauty of the structure lies in the decoration of the exterior. Embrasures have been incorporated into the walls of the lower bastion, and the distinctive battlements are shaped in the form of shields embellished with the Cross of the Order of Christ. The same ornate filigree decorates the external walls of the square tower where carved stone armillary spheres and nautical rope - symbols of Portugal's seafaring prowess - embellish the windows and arches. Dinky onion-domed Moorish-style sentry posts accentuate each corner of the terrace, while another four turrets surround the top terrace. The tower's outstanding feature, the beautiful arcaded Renaissance loggia, graces the south façade, so it cannot be seen from the shore - enticement enough to tread the gangway and visit this graceful Manueline sea fort, a mini masterpiece of military architecture. www.planetware.com Torre de Belém. Ponto de grande interesse turístico em Lisboa. Tower of Belém. A huge interesting point in Lisbon, Belém.