Portugal was once one of the world's greatest seafaring nations and its discoverers mapped much of the New World. This tradition is celebrated, in Lisbon, by the Monument to the Discoveries (or Padrão dos Descobrimentos).
This giant sculpture depicts Henry the Navigator, whose statue heads the line of 33 figures of citizens who were pivotal to Portugal’s Age of Discovery. These figures include royalty, explorers, cartographers, scientists, missionaries and artists.
While the monument itself is striking, even more interesting is the view from the top. In front of the monument is a giant map, surrounded by a compass rose, laid out in tiles. There is also a spectacular view of Jerónimos Monastery and the surrounding harbour.
Have you been here? Share a tip or a photo with fellow travelers.
Lisbon's Monument to the Discoveries
Architect José Ângelo Cottinelli Telmo and sculptor Leopoldo de Almeida created this 164-foot monument of a ship for the 1940 World’s Fair. It honors Portuguese explorers from Ferdinand Magellan to Henry the Navigator, who stands at the apex.
Avenida de Brasília, Belém. This appeared in the May 2013 issue.
One of the most impressive monuments in the Lisbon area is located on the banks of the Tejo River in Belem. While it is not a UNESCO World Heritage site like its nearby neighbors Belem Tower and Jerenimos Monastery, it is a very commanding presence in this history laden area.
The monument overlooks the Golden Gate replica, the 25th de Abril Bridge, and faces The huge Christo Rei Statue across the river.
It is only fitting that Prince Henry the Navigator sits at the helm of this ode to Portuguese explorers and others who contributed to Portugal's Golden Age of Discovery.
While you are there, make sure to stop by the Feitoria Restaurant, (located in the Altis Hotel) for a lovely glass of Portuguese wine or a delightful lunch with a view. The food is wonderful.
If anything was a testament to Portugal's role in sea exploration, this monument would be it. The giant caravel ship is flanked by Prince Henry the Navigator and 32 other larger-than-life figures - monarchs, explorers, cartographers, artists, scientists, missionaries and the only female, Henry’s mother Felipa - all looking out to sea.
You can't miss the impressive Monument to the Discoveries in Lisbon's Belém neighborhood, but don't forget to look down. At the base of the monument is an equally impressive inlaid marble map. A gift from the South African government, this huge map chronicles all of the expeditions of Portuguese explores who at one point collectively ruled the seas.
This is one of those places that's more impressive in person. It's hard to get a sense of it's massive scale, but it's definitely worth visiting. Also, this is a good companion to the Jerónimos Monastery across the street.