Av. Brasília, 1400-038 Lisboa, Portugal
Photo courtesy of © Visit Lisboa
Torre de Belém Belém's impressive, UNESCO-listed tower is shrugged off by some as much ado about nothing, but it's a remarkably preserved piece of a much grander a 14th Century puzzle. Although it now sits majestically on the shore where the Tejo river meets the Atlantic Ocean, the tower was actually built atop a manmade island in 1519, when the banks of the river extended as far as the monastery behind it. The tower’s main purpose was to defend Portuguese caravels from pirate attacks as the ships returned from Portugal’s far-flung colonies, loaded with precious goods and spices. Considered yet another architectural Manueline jewel from the reign of Manuel I, today it stands as a seaside symbol to Portugal's once-mighty rule.