Torre de Belém (Belém Tower) or the Tower of St. Vincent is a fortified tower located in the civil parish of Santa Maria de Belém in Lisboa (Lisbon), Portugal. Designed by Francisco de Arruda, the striking Belém Tower was built in 1515 in the Douro River (which was subsequently filled in, bringing the shore adjacent to the tower) to guard the entrance to Lisbon’s harbor.
Belém Tower’s impressive Manueline architecture includes sculptures that depict historical figures such as Saint Vincent while its watchtowers display strong Moorish influences in the arched windows and ribbed cupolas. The UNESCO World Heritage monument also features Venetian-style loggias and a statue of Our Lady of Safe Homecoming, which faces the river.
Riding down one of Lisbon’s steep hills in a cable car or street car, looking at the 25 de Abril Bridge, you might imagine that you’re really in San Francisco. For years now, visitors to Lisbon have pointed out the similarities between the two cities: both are on the west coast of their continents; are built on about seven steep hills, have classic cable and street cars and both have been devastated by major earthquakes. The biggest similarity, however, remains the bright orange suspension bridge connecting Lisbon to Almada, which resembles the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. At a total length of 7,470 feet (2,277 meters), the 25 de Abril Bridge carries six road lanes and two railway tracks. It was built by the American Bridge Company, which also constructed the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries) is a monument on the northern bank of the Tagus River estuary, in the civil parish of Santa Maria de Belém in Lisboa (Lisbon), Portugal. Shaped like a ship’s prow, the 171 foot (50 meters) monument was designed in 1939 by architect Jose Angelo Cottinelli Temo and sculptor Leopoldo de Almeida, as a temporary beacon (built out of plaster) during the Portuguese World Exhibition in honor of all explorers of the Age of Discoveries.
Reconstructed in concrete in 1960 to commemorate the 500th year of the death of Infante Dom Henrique (Henry the Navigator), the sculpture features 30 statues, portraying Vasco de Gama, King Alfonso V (among others), led by Henry the Navigator. A giant marble wind rose at the foot of the Monument contains the key exploration dates throughout the centuries. The interior is divided into three levels with an auditorium and tow large exhibition halls, and the terrace at the top of the monument delivers spectacular views of the city and the river.
As shown in the closeup of the statues in the photograph below, Infante Dom Henrique (Henry the Navigator) is followed by King Alfonso V, Vasco de Gama, Navigator Alfonso Baldaia, Navigator Pedro Alvares Cabral, and Navigator Fernao de Magalhaes.