Belem Tower is a symbol of the Portuguese capital Lisbon, and indeed the entire country. This beautiful architectural emblem of the city is listed as World Heritage by UNESCO because of its immense historical importance. Belem Tower was the starting point of reference caravels departing to seek uncharted territories.
Belem is a fortified tower built in typical Portuguese style, Manueline style, while incorporating features from other architectural styles. It overlooks the beach district in Lisbon, Belem , where the name comes from. The watchtower is actually erected on a small island in the River Tagus.
Also known as, Tower of Saint Vincent, it was built during the period 1515 - 1521 on the orders of King John II. The prince decided to erect the building in this place so to be a major protective building at the mouth of the River Tagus and a gateway to Lisbon. Built of white limestone the tower Belem is a complex of a thirty meter high tower that has visibility to the four directions.
The architect of Belem Tower is Francisco de Arruda, who also designed the Portuguese fortifications in Morocco. The windows facing the river, have elegant arches with delicate peaks in Venetian style.
The Belem Tower includes beautiful stone statues and ornaments on the building of Belem. The architect also carved the historical figure of St. Vincent. On the facade of the tower Belem is an intriguing statue of a rhinoceros that inspired Dürer to start painting wildlife.
Today the tower Belem still remains a fundamental building in Lisbon, because it offers reminders of the largest maritime discoveries that laid the foundations of the modern world.