Tower of Torre de Belem
Tower of Torre de Belem, Belem tower, also known as the “tower of Bethlehem” – a fortified structure on the island of the Tagus river in the Lisbon area.
Built in 1515-1521 years of Francisco di Arudou in honor of Vasco da Gama sea route to India and served alternately a small defensive fortress, the gunpowder warehouse, prison and customs. The tower was supposed to be the starting point for all those Portuguese ships that went to sea expedition.
The four-storey building height of 35 meters is the example of the Manueline architectural style, typical of the Portuguese Renaissance, but almost lost today. The tower was a powerful fortification, which, if necessary, could protect the Jeronimos monastery, forming a tower of a single architectural complex. For the Manueline characterized by the abundance of various forms of pinnacles, graceful balconies, images of ropes, shells and chains. In addition to the various geometric patterns on the facade shows various Christian heraldic symbols, and Indian images, which opened to Europeans Vasco da Gama. It also contains interesting Arabian turrets and openwork balconies, everywhere you can see decorative images of coats of arms.
It is interesting that originally the tower was carried out in the middle of the river Tagus, but later the water flow deviated to the side, and this fortification appeared on the shore. While brave campaigns undertaken by Napoleon’s troops, the tower was destroyed almost to the ground.
The reconstruction began only in 1845, probably from the heavenly blessings of the Mother of God, the ancient image which is stored in the Bastion. Then for a sufficiently long period of time the tower served as a store of weapons and a prison, and only a few decades ago was converted into one of the most famous museums in the world. In the XIX century, the monument became the object of interest and pride of the Portuguese romantics, this was a major restoration. In 1983 the tower and the nearby jerónimos monastery Jeronimos were declared UNESCO monuments of world cultural heritage.
Nowadays the tower is open to the public.