Torre de Belém

sights / Architecture

Torre de Belém information

Lisbon , Portugal
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adult/child €6/3, free 1st Sun of month
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Jutting out onto the Rio Tejo, this World Heritage–listed fortress epitomises the Age of Discoveries. Breathe in to climb a narrow spiral staircase to the tower, affording sublime views over Belém and the river.

Francisco de Arruda designed the pearly-grey chess piece in 1515 to defend Lisbon’s harbour and nowhere else is the lure of the Atlantic more powerful. The Manueline show-off flaunts filigree stonework, meringue-like cupolas and – just below the western tower – a stone rhinoceros.

The ungulate depicts the one Manuel I sent Pope Leo X in 1515, which inspired Dürer’s famous woodcut. Crowds can be intense on weekends (especially Sunday) – a warning to claustrophobes.