You know I know nothing of this symbol before coming here and since we did not have a guided tour, I had to rely on the interwebs for information and here is what I found out:
Built in 1515 as a fortress to guard the entrance to Lisbon's harbor, the Belem Tower was the starting point for many of the voyages of discovery, and for the sailors it was the last sight of their homeland.
It is a monument to Portugal's Age of Discovery, often serving as a symbol of the country, and UNESCO has listed it as a World Heritage monument.
Built in the Manueline style, it incorporates many stonework motifs of the Discoveries, sculptures depicting historical figures such as St. Vincent and an exotic rhinoceros that inspired Dürer's drawing of the beast.
The architect, Francisco de Arruda, had previously worked on Portuguese fortifications in Morocco, so there are also Moorish-style watchtowers and other Moorish influences. Facing the river are arcaded windows, delicate Venetian-style loggias, and a statue of Our Lady of Safe Homecoming, a symbol of protection for sailors on their voyages.
Due to time constraints we were unable to go inside. Instead we were content on admiring it from the outside.
Miniature version, front.
Miniature version, back.
It's been over a year since this trip happened, but I still remember the warmth of the sun as it hits my face and my arms and how cool the sea breeze was. It was a perfect November day.
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