A former military fortress of great beauty and historical value, the Belém Tower watches over the Tagus River estuary to this day - and it also welcomes all those who wish to know more about Lisbon!
The origin of Saint Vincent’s Tower (as it is also known) can be traced back to the reign of king Manuel I. Its construction was finished in 1519 - a time when Portugal was expanding its influence over the seas and concerns were raised over improving the defenses of the Tagus River estuary. During the following centuries, the Tower and its heavy artillery were Lisbon’s first line of military defense against attacks from pirates or foreign invaders during times of war. In the 19th Century, the Tower was also used as a prison and a lighthouse. Currently, the Belém Tower is one of the most important symbols of the Age of Discoveries - it houses a museum and has become one of Lisbon’s main tourist attractions.
The Tower stands out for its particular shape, combining a bastion fortification with a medieval tower. The fortress is one of the main examples of Manueline style, a branch of Portuguese architecture that marked the passage from Late Gothic to the Renaissance style. The medieval elements in the tower (such as the Cross of Christ carved into the walls) combine with Moorish influences (the turrets and the arched windows) as well as an Italian touch (the decorations of the south loggia). Therefore, the Belém Tower is not only a landmark from an important moment in Portuguese history - it also symbolises the transition from the old world into the modern age.
October to May
From 10.00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. (last admission at 5.00 p.m.)
May to September
From 10.00 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. (last admission at 5.00 p.m.)
Closed: Mondays and 1 January, Easter Sunday, 1 May, 13 June and 25 December
Ticket price varies, but the minimum value for admission is 6 euros. For more information, check the Belém Tower official website.