#110 Torre de Belém
Belém [Lisbon], Portugal
This is NOT an official Lego site
was the Age of Discovery - the most important period of
power and prestige for the Kingdom of Portugal. Under
King João [John] II [1481-1495], known variously as The
Perfect Prince and The Tyrant, the global exploration
begun by the King's great uncle, Prince Henry the
Navigator, was restored. Diogo Cão had discovered the
Congo River , Bartholomeu Dias rounded the Cape of
Good Hope , and in 1493 Alvaro Caminha began
settlements on São Tomé and Principe Islands. Lisboa [Lisbon]
was rapidly becoming a prestigious and cosmopolitan city.
King João recognized that protecting the city and its
harbor were of the utmost importance. A triad of forts
was planned along the estuary of the Tagus River, between
the Atlantic Ocean and the port. João died prematurely
at age 40, quite possibly poisoned, and he was succeeded
by his first cousin, Manuel I. Under King Manuel Vasco de
Gama discovered a maritime route to India, Pedro Alvarez
Cabral discovered Brazil and Gaspar Corte Real explored
Greenland and Newfoundland.
Manuel [1495-1521] was left with the task of the defense
of Lisboa. In 1514 he named Francisco de Arruda to be the
Master Builder of the Tower of Belém, with construction
completed in 1519. The Tower was built on a basalt island
close to the north bank of the Tagus, at Belém, a
western suburb of Lisboa [see map below]. Designed with
Moroccan influences, but with numerous Christian and
royal features, the Torre de Belém remains one of the
most beautiful examples of military architecture in the
world. The Tower was of military importance for only
about 60 years. By the time Philip II of Spain became
King of Portugal in 1580, military design was changing
and the storerooms at Belém became prison cells. The
castle served as a customs checkpoint, telegraph station
and a lighthouse over the centuries. The statue of the
Virgin and Child was added to the terrace in the 18th
century, and the Tower declared a World Heritage Site by
UNESCO in 1983.
|The deck from the donjon.||A
on the tower.
the cannon ports that
ring the bastion.
audience room on the
tower's fourth floor.
|A cross-section of the castle.||A map of
the Tagus estuary showing
the location of the Torre de Belém.
of the Lego Model
Built July, 2006
the southeast view
showing the array of cannon.
northeast view better
reveals the entrance steps
northwest shows the
modest landside guns.
the southwest view
emphasizes the beautiful
symmetry of the castle.
the entrance [Note
- now covered
allowed for easy commun-
to the cannon deck
the balcony on the third
level of the donjon.
crest, decorative globes
& windows of level 4.
windows of floors
2 through 4.
bartizans and statues.
the donjon, battlements
with decorative merlons and turrets,
plus the royal Portuguese flag.
Two modest ships of Spain's Armada, flying the colors of Castile & Leon, attempt to enter Lisbon's harbour,
not realizing that a new fort is in place. Their awakening is a rude one...
Spanish ships sail near
the elegant "cathedral?"...
quickly recognize the threat,...
fire upon the lead
surprised interlopers return
fire but are unable to demage
the state-of-the-art fort.
fortress has 3 dozen cannon
that can be brought to bear...
enemies of the Kingdom
Spanish ships soon
recognize they are outmanned...
outgunned - and make haste
to report to their Admiral!
Other Belém Tower pages:
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