Belem Tower (Torre de Belém)--page 1 (of 2 pages)

Francisco Arruda
(Thanks to Joäo Nuno Machado for the date and name of the architect.)

Manuel I commissioned this tower to stand as a fortress in the middle of the Tagus River, that is, the mouth of the river and the entrance into Lisbon. Since it was the starting point during Portugal's great age of exploration, it became a symbol as well for Portugal's expansion and commercial importance. Defined as Manueline style, its influences are varied: it resembles a medieval castle, with crenelations and battlements; an Italian Renaissance palace with its arcaded balcony; Moorish military architecture with its distinctive watchtowers; and a Gothic interior. This famous tower is a Unesco World Heritage Site.

The east side with gangway to the shore

The gangway leads to the entrance. Private quarters are in the tower proper with a chapel at the very top.

Details showing shield-shaped battlements decorated with the cross of the Order of Christ and stone-carved rope decoration

Nautical rope and armillary spheres represent Portuguese seafaring prowess.

Window of the Governor's room; right: nautical rope decoration carved in stone


Terrace looking up at the Renaissance arcaded loggia


Royal coat of arms of Manuel I and an armillary sphere


The Renaissance loggia

The tower proper provides a beautiful panoramic view.

Continue to page 2 for additional views.

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© 2005 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.

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