Belém, Tower of

   Built during the country's early imperial age when Portugal was a world maritime power, the Tower of Belém (Torre do Belém) in Lisbon was constructed as a defense against maritime attack in the Tagus River. This historic stone tower, one of Portugal's most perfect Manueline architectural style monument-treasures, was begun in 1515 by order of King Manuel I. The first architect was the military architect Francisco Arruda, and the tower was built in the River Tagus.
   With changes in tides, time, and the shoreline since, the tower today rests close to the Belém shoreline. The tower was built to accommodate a garrison, a prison, and artillery to ward off pirates and other raiders coming from the Atlantic up the Tagus River. Eclectic in architectural style, the tower's styles include Roman-Gothic and Manu-eline, with touches of Venetian and Moroccan influence. Located not far from the massive Monastery of Jerónimos convent, the tower is square and is surrounded by a polygonal bulwark, as well as by walls facing the Tagus. Centuries after its use in defense had ceased, the tower in its restored state became a memorable symbol of Portugal's Age of Discoveries and expansion, as well as a much-photographed icon in tourist literature.
   See also Castles, Portuguese.

Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. . 2014.

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