The Belém Tower was built both as a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon and as part of a defensive system at the entrance to the Tagus river. King João II (1455-1495) was the first to outline a novel and effective defence plan for Lisbon. His three-pronged plan required three fortresses, one at Cascais, a second at St. Sebastião da Caparica (also called the Old Tower) on the south bank of the Tagus and the third, which was completed by King Manuel I, who succeeded him after his death. The third fortress, the Belém Tower, was built in memory of the patron saint of Lisbon, St. Vincent, on the former mooring place of a large ship the Grande Nau.
From the dungeons to the terrace at the top of the tower, passing through the Governor’s Room, the Kings Room and the Audience Chamber you have a lot to discover.
Its unique value was confirmed in 1983 when UNESCO classified the Belem Tower as “World Heritage”.
The Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery showcase the exuberant Manueline (late Gothic) style of the time. Nearby, the delicious custard tarts at Antiga Confeitaria are almost as big a draw for visitors.
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