The tower was built in the sixteenth century in the Tagus river to control the entrance to the city from the sea. 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. the beautiful Tower of Belem was being built as the third in a series of fortifications designed to protect the natural port of Lisbon. Constructed between 1514 and 1520 of local lioz limestone, the tower is an example of the distinctive Portuguese “Manueline” style, named for King Manuel I. The style incorporates motifs inspired by the great Age of Discovery and the recent return of Vasco de Gama from explorations to the Far East. Design elements from Morocco, Venice, and India mingle with nautical symbols like rope.
credit: Robert Nyman