To grasp the importance of Portugal during the Age of Discovery, take a trip to Belém Tower (Torre de Belém) in the civil parish of Santa Maria de Belem. This UNESCO-listed tower was built from lioz limestone in the 16th century. It sits on the north bank of the Tagus River and is accessible via a small bridge from the Avenida de Brasilia.
Torre de Belem was commissioned by King John II in the 1500s to serve as part of a defence system as well as a ceremonial entrance to the city of Lisbon. While the tower itself is a beautiful and ornate sight, it's the interior that's the real star. Late Gothic Manueline-style features like rib vaulting, armillary spheres and nautical-inspired twisted rope motifs give the tower a distinctive look. Small niches in the walls show where cannons would have been located in the past.
The Belem Tower is divided into five floors: The Governor's Hall, King's Hall, Audience Hall, and the Chapel and Roof terrace.
Travel tip: Belem Tower is within walking distance of the Jerónimos Monastery (about 20 minutes), so you might want to roll these two landmarks into one afternoon of sightseeing. You can even get a combined ticket to both locations for a reduced price.
Note that Belem Tower is shut on Mondays year-round.
January 2nd to April 30th
May 1st to September 30th
October 1st to December 31st
Entry to Belém Tower