Published on: 31 July 2021

Belem Tower

Torre de Belém, formerly Torre de São Vicente alongside Belém, officially Torre de São Vicente, is a fortification located in the parish of Belém, municipality and district of Lisbon, in Portugal. On the right bank of the Tagus River, where Belém beach once stood, it was originally surrounded by water throughout its perimeter. Over the centuries, it was surrounded by the beach, until today it is incorporated into dry land. One of the city’s ex libris, the monument is an architectural icon of the reign of King Manuel I, in a synthesis between the medieval tradition keep and the modern bastion, where artillery pieces were displayed.
Over time, the tower lost its function as a defense of the Tagus bar and, after the Filipino occupation, the old magazines gave way to dungeons. On the four floors of the tower, the Sala do Governador, the Sala dos Reis, the Sala de Audiências and, finally, the Chapel with its characteristic 16th-century vaults remain. The Tower of São Vicente (1514) belongs to a defense formation of the Tagus basin, built by João II of Portugal, composed to the south by the tower of São Sebastião da Caparica (1481) and to the west by the Tower of Santo António de Cascais ( 1488).
The monument stands out for its implicit nationalism, as it is surrounded by decorations from the Coat of Arms of Portugal, including inscriptions of crosses of the Order of Christ on the bastion windows; such characteristics refer mainly to the typical architecture of a time when the country was a global power (at the beginning of the Modern Age).
Along with the Jerónimos Monastery, it was classified in 1983 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and elected as one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal in 2007.

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