The monastery of the Hieronymites and the tower of Belém in Lisbon bear witness to Portugal’s heroic history.
The UNESCO World Heritage List includes more than a thousand properties with outstanding universal value. They are all part of the world’s cultural and natural heritage.
- Full name of site: Monastery of the Hieronymites and Tower of Belém in Lisbon
- Country: Portugal
- Date of Inscription: 1983
- Category: Cultural site
UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre’s short description of site no. 263:
“Standing at the entrance to Lisbon harbour, the Monastery of the Hieronymites – construction of which began in 1502 – exemplifies Portuguese art at its best. The nearby Tower of Belém, built to commemorate Vasco da Gama’s expedition, is a reminder of the great maritime discoveries that laid the foundations of the modern world.”
I visited these two sites, not very far from each other, in 2013. This is an excerpt from my article:
The Tower of Belém is a 30m high fortification on what is now the river bank. It was built in the early 16th century on a small island. It used to be equipped with cannons protecting the city but its historical importance goes beyond that. The tower has the Manueline style so typical of Portuguese architecture from that time.
Portugal’s Age of Discovery, the country’s days of glory, sent many sailors off on voyages that would be both dangerous and rewarding. To name but a few: Henry the Navigator, Vasco da Gama, and Fernando Magellan. This tower would be the starting point for many of them and the last sight of their homeland. The Belém Tower serves as a symbol of the country, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.