Belem Tower in Lisbon
DINKtravelers knows that when you walk along Lisbon’s coast you have two reasons to fall in love with Portugal: the first is the ocean water horizon that extends infinitely, and the second is the white tower that rises in the distance like a stone guardian.
Torre de Belem UNESCO World Heritage Site
On the Tajo riverside, the Belem Tower rises as an unequal symbol of Lisbon. This construction that began in 1514 was declared World Heritage by the UNESCO in 1983, and in 2015 it was chosen by the city’s government to commemorate its 500th anniversary. For this reason, throughout the summer they organized art exhibits, conferences and concerts in the building’s premises.
Construction of Belém Tower
The tower was constructed in order to guard the access to the port during the so-called “Era of discoveries” during the sixteenth century, a time in which Spain and Portugal were fearless naval adversaries. Its defensive use becomes evident when you visit the ancient dungeons that still exist in the interior as well as the permanent cannons exhibit that shows the weaponry they needed to attack enemy vessels. However, its use changed with time and so it became a tax recollection center and then a prison.
Despite being a defensive building, its style shows one of the best representations of Portuguese Manueline –a decorative style that combines classical elements with Islamic art motifs.
There are two main elements in this structure: the tower and the bastion. The tower is divided into five levels; on the first three you will find the Governor’s Hall, the Kings’ Hall and the Court’s Hall. Then, on the fourth floor you can visit a chapel while on the fifth floor you’ll find the terrace that is, without doubt, the best spot to take panoramic pictures of Lisbon. From there you’ll be able to spot the Hieronymite monastery, another attraction worth visiting.
Opening Hours and Getting to Belem Tower
Access to the tower is done through the bastion and in order to get there from downtown Lisbon you must take Tram 15. Remember that if you have the Lisbon Card, the use of public transport as well as access to the building are free. Visiting hours are from 10:00 to 17:00, although we recommend going between 14:00 and 16:00 pm because that’s when you’ll find less visitors. Anyway, while you wait for your turn, take a selfie next to the miniature reproduction of the tower you’ll find next to the entrance. And once inside, if you’re worried about the physical strain of climbing up, worry not! The tower possesses an intelligent arrows system that indicates visitors when to climb up or down, whichever the case is, allowing them to catch their breath between every level.
Take your time to visit the monument. Enjoy the peace and exclusiveness of the landscapes that Belem Tower offers you and don’t forget to share your experience with us.