Spectacular Monastery of Jerónimos in Lisbon

Spectacular Monastery of Jerónimos in Lisbon

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One of the most cherished of Portugal’s historical buildings is located in the riverside suburb of Belém, west of Lisbon city center, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Monastery replaced the church formerly existing in the same place, which was dedicated to Santa Maria de Belém and where the monks of the military-religious Order of Christ provided assistance to seafarers in transit. The construction of the monastery and church began on 6 January 1501, and was completed 100 years later. King Manuel originally funded the project with moneys obtained from the Vintena da Pimenta, a 5 percent tax on commerce from Africa and the Orient, equivalent to 70 kilograms of gold per year, with the exception of those taxes collected on the importation of pepper, cinnamon and cloves, which went directly to the Crown. Jeronimos Monastery is a majestic tribute to the opulent history enjoyed by Portugal during the discoveries era. In modern times, the monastery continues to make history by hosting important ceremonies of state such as the signing of the Treaty which marked Portugal’s entry into the European Economic Community.

jeronimos monastery Spectacular Monastery of Jerónimos in Lisbon

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credit: Robert Nyman



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Torre de Belém – Tower of Belém in Lisbon

Torre de Belém – Tower of Belém in Lisbon

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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.

belem tower Torre de Belém   Tower of Belém in Lisbon

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credit: Robert Nyman



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National Palace of Pena, Portugal

National Palace of Pena, Portugal

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Pena National Palace, in the historical town of Sintra and part of the Pena park, represents one of the best expressions in the world of 19th-century architectural Romanticism. The palace was built in such a way as to be visible from any point in the park, which consists of a forest and luxuriant gardens with over five hundred different species of trees originating from the four corners of the earth. Designed by mining engineer and amateur architect Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege as a summer house for the royal family, the interior of Pena features ornate stuccos, multi-patterned columns, Moorish-arched ceilings, and much of the original monastery’s chapel. The exterior is festooned with allegorical carvings, references to Biblical stories and religious icons, as well as lavishly painted Portuguese tiles. The most complete view of the palace complex, including an enormous, turreted clock-tower, can be glimpsed from the Queen’s Terrace.

pena palace National Palace of Pena, Portugal

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