Torre de Belem, Belem.

Torre de Belém


Jutting out onto the Rio Tejo, this Unesco World Heritage–listed fortress epitomises the Age of Discoveries. You'll need to breathe in to climb the narrow spiral staircase to the tower, which affords sublime views over Belém and the river.

Francisco de Arruda designed this giant pearly grey chess piece in 1515 to defend the city's harbour, and nowhere else in Lisbon 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 here can be intense on weekends (especially Sundays) – a warning to claustrophobes.

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