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Torre de Belém

Av. Brasília, 1400-038 Lisboa, Portugal
| +351 21 362 0034

Torre de Belém

Located west of central Lisbon, Torre de Belém is a trip best done by metro or taxi. Once there, climb the steps that date back to the 16th century and get a bird’s-eye view of the Portuguese capital. Some of its neighbors will make venturing into this area more than worthwhile, too. Jeronimos Monastery features beautiful Manueline architecture, and Pasteis de Belém is a prime spot to devour Portugal’s most renowned desert: the pastel de nata.

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AFAR Local Expert
over 4 years ago

A Stunning Historic Stronghold

In the early 16th century, King John II of Portugal commissioned a tower to be built on a tiny island at the mouth of the Tagus River. The tower would be a defense for the city of Lisbon and a ceremonial site leading into Lisbon. The style is the ornate Manueline as is the Jeronimos Monastery near-by.

As time passed with tides and storms, the shoreline changed and the Tower is now at the riverbank. Access to the Tower is over a gangplank leading to the drawbridge.

As centuries passed, the Torre de Belem deteriorated. In 1983, UNESCO named the Torre de Belem as a World Heritage Site. Restoration began in the 1990's and the Tower was preserved.

The white stone structure has Moorish styled watch towers, much ornate design, and there are four stories of history to peruse.

I toured the Tower and learned a great deal about it and the city of Lisbon. I have been back and learn something new with each visit.

The 1st floor is the Governor's Hall with a spiral staircase leading to the 2nd floor - the King's Hall ( the Royal Residence). The loggias offered a river view. The 3rd floor is the Audience Hall, and the 4th has a stunning chapel with a ribbed high ceiling.

Admission is free with the Lisboa Card; closed Mondays. Bus, train, or my favorite - the tram, will get you to this area.

In the late afternoon, the entire Tower and the river take on a golden glow. It's a spectacular site.

The Tower of Belem should be on your list for Lisbon. Much to do in the area, too.
AFAR Contributor
about 3 years ago

Waterside Views

Belem Tower is a popular spot for travelers visiting Lisbon, and surrounding area of my favorite spots to spend a peaceful afternoon. Stroll between Belem Tower and the Discoveries Monument, built in 1960 to honor the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator, to take in sun and sea air. We sat between each beside the Tagus River waterfront to watch sailboats drift by and admired the Ponte de Abril 25, a bridge named to commemorate the beginning of the Carnation Revolution in 1974, which many say resembles San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

Sweeping Views from Atop the Tower

More than a watchtower, the Belém Tower is a beautiful example of the Manueline style of architecture found throughout Lisbon. Named after King Manuel I, it's characterized by intricate ornamentation with both nautical and religious motifs, and is another reminder of Portugal's prosperity at sea. Climb to the top of the tower for panoramic views with the 25th of April Bridge and Monument to Christ in the distance.
over 4 years ago

A Hidden Gem

Usually overshadowed by the more popular neighboring country, Spain. This country is a hidden gem in Europe - Portugal. A country rich in history, great food, and warm and friendly smiles.
over 4 years ago

Tower of Belem at sunset.

Any visit to Lisbon isn´t complete without a sunset wander along the Tejo river and a visit to the Belem Tower, across the street from the famous custard pastries. Built in the early 16th century, this tower is a UNESCO World Heritage site because it played an important in Portuguese history, particularly during the Age of Discoveries.
AFAR Local Expert
about 3 years ago

Belém Tower

Although it now sits majestically on the shore where the Tagus meets the Atlantic Ocean, Belém Tower (Torre de Belém) 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.

over 4 years ago

Sunset at Belem Tower

No trip to Lisbon is complete without a visit to the beautiful district of Belem and seeing the Big Three... the Monument to the Discoveries, the magnificent Jeronimos Monestery and the Belem Tower. All are located within walking distance of each other along the banks of the Tejo River. Belem is easily accessible from Lisbon by train (Cais do Sodre station) and by tram # 15 from Praca da Figueira.