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Belém Tower

It was Lisbon's guardian during many years

The Belém Tower, built at the narrowest point of the Tagus estuary, was intended to defend Lisbon.

Belém Tower

This was part of a major program for the general reorganisation of earth and sea forces.

It was a great plan and, for decades, there were no complaints from populations who in the past were victims of constant looting by corsairs and pirates. In fact, the imposing Belém Tower played a fundamental role in this strategy. Thus, the message that passed was clear: the entrance to Lisbon was protected and under control.

O plano inicial incluía como meios fixos defensivos, a Fortaleza de Cascais, a Torre Velha da margem sul e, em frente a esta, a Torre de Belém. Construída no início do século XVI, esta estrutura é, a par com o Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, um dos melhores exemplos do estilo Manuelino.

Equipped with sturdy bombards, the cross shot represented a formidable obstacle to all hostile vessels that tried to force entry into Lisbon. A ship of 1000 barrels was built, full of numerous pieces, complementing the defensive device with a mobile base of fire. And, because it was still considered insufficient, caravels equipped with powerful armament were built.  These were in position, ready to intervene in case of need.

With the evolution of the attack and defense measures, its structure gradually lost its original defensive role. Over the centuries it was used as a customs registration, telegraph signalling station, lighthouse and even as a dungeon for political prisoners.

Initially surrounded by the waters around its perimeter, today, this structure is symbolically linked to land by a pedestrian bridge. This was the way found to preserve its original context.

Classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, since 1983, Belém Tower is undoubtedly one of the most expressive monuments of Lisbon.

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