TOWER OF BELÉM
Strategically built on the North bank of the Tagus River to the plan of Francisco de Arruda between 1514 and 1520, the Tower of Belém is one of the jewels of architecture from the reign of King D. Manuel.
It combines a traditional mediaeval keep with a more recent bulwark housing a casemate to store the first devices designed to resist artillery fire. The Tower gradually lost its role as a defence system at the mouth of the Tagus River and after the Spanish occupation, its former ammunition depots were converted into dungeons. Noteworthy in the Tower’s four stories are the Governor’s Room, Kings’ Room, Audience Room and, finally, the Chapel with its typical 16th-century vaults.
The Tower of Belém is a cultural reference, a symbol of Portugal at the time.
As a protector of Portuguese individuality and universality, the tower saw its role confirmed in 1983 when it was classified by UNESCO as "Cultural Heritage of Humanity".