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Lisbon Portugal Lisbon tower

 

Belem Tower (Torre de Belem) is one of the most characteristic city landmarks. In 1983 it was included, along with the nearby Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, in the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Originally the tower stood on a small island on the right side of the Tagus, but with the regression of the watermark it became practically moored to the bank itself. The tower id dedicated to the patron saint of the city, St. Vincent.

The tower was built between 1515 and 1521 in late Gothic (Manueline) style, both as a ceremonial entrance to the city and a part of fortification system. It was widely regarded as a symbol of Portuguese power during the Great discoveries. The architectural concept is influenced by Moorish style, visible in elegant arched windows and the ribbed cupolas of the watchtowers.

In 1580 during the war with Spain for the Portuguese throne the Tower fought and surrendered to the Duke of Alba. In the following centuries it was mainly used as prison and a customs outpost. In the 1840s under the influence of romantic writer Almeida Garrett, the tower of belem was restored by Ferdinand II. Numerous neo-manueline decorations were added to the building. It was declared National Monument in 1910.

The Tower can be structurally divided into two parts, the bastion, having the shape of the irregular hexagon, and five-storey tower itself. The whole ensemble looks like the bow of caravel. The bastion has a vaulted chamber with 17 large-calibre cannons. The bastion platform provides the emplacement for light guns. It was the first Portuguese fortification with two-level gun emplacement.

The corners of the platform have small towers, adorned with the sculptures of exotic animals, brought to the country during Great Discoveries. In front of the Tower stands a stone sculpture of Madonna with Child, carved in refined Manueline style. The chapel on the fourth floor features magnificent rib vault.

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