Is Belem Tower Worth Visiting?

One of the most iconic and photographed sites in all of Lisbon is the Belem Tower. Perched on the banks of the Tagus River, its striking appearance draws approximately 1.5 million visitors annually. If you’re visiting Lisbon it’s likely number one on your list of places to visit. But with so many things to see and do in Lisbon, is it worth the hype? Is Belem Tower worth visiting?

This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you purchase from the links at no additional cost to you.

IS BELEM TOWER WORTH A VISIT?

Yes, Belem Tower is worth a visit. It boasts stunning Manueline architecture, and spectacular views and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Imagine standing on the very spot where explorers stood before they departed for the unknown. A visit to Belem Tower is truly a unique experience that is a step back into Portugal’s rich cultural history.

Tower of Belem

WHY VISIT BELEM TOWER

History

This 16th-century structure was built during the Age of Discoveries when Portugal was a major player and near the height of their power. Constructed between 1514 and 1520 by King John III, this fortress was created as an important part of the defense of the Port of Lisbon from potential invaders.

This was a departure point for many of Portugal’s most noteworthy discoverers such as Vasco de Gama. To visit the Belem Tower is to stand in history.

Architecture

The intricate Manueline architecture highlighted by its elaborate details and maritime elements makes this an epic landmark. The Manueline style is a Portuguese style of building. It features a unique combination of intricate details, maritime elements, and religious motifs.

Tower of Belem

The tower also contains detailed carvings of animals and mythical creatures. These fascinating details are especially highlighted on the facade of the tower.

Views

The Belem Tower has several levels each with its view of the surrounding area. Once you reach the top you’re treated to stunning views of Lisbon, the Tagus River, and the surrounding area. This gives you a chance to enjoy an already beautiful region from a whole new expansive viewpoint. 

Tower of Belem

UNESCO Recognition

A place holds a truly special reputation if it receives the lofty honor of being designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And this is exactly what the Belem Tower has earned. And rightfully so. This location has held extreme importance with massive impacts on world history and culture.

Amazing Photos

One of the most stunning views in Lisbon is of the Belem Tower at the edge of the Tagus River. The Tower sits right near the banks anchored in the river with the water of the river surrounding it and stretching into the background.

Tower of Belem

Both the surrounding landscape and the intricately detailed architecture make for a spectacular photo opportunity. There is also plenty of space surrounding the approach to the Tower and around the tower so that there is ample opportunity to take pics and not feel overcrowded. It doesn’t take much to get an unobstructed view of the structure. 

Surrounding Area

While the Belem Tower is the focal point of the area and will be the main reason for your visit, the surrounding area is equally beautiful. There are a lot of open grassy areas for picnics or just to let the little ones run around and burn off some energy and have fun.

Tower of Belem

Along the main path to the tower are benches and plenty of trees, perfect for relaxing and enjoying the area. Closer to the tower are wide walkways and more benches allowing you to take in the view of not only the tower but the surrounding area.

HOW TO GET TO BELEM TOWER

Belem Tower is fairly easy to get to from the main Lisbon city center. There are modern trams as well as buses that will take you to the landmark.

On our trip to Lisbon, we stayed centrally in Baixa and were able to easily access the landmark. We took the 15E tram. The 728 bus may also be available or some type of combination of the two.

The best thing to do is to check with Google Maps because the best option changes depending on the time of day. Either way, it’s an easy commute.

GET TICKETS TO TOUR BELEM TOWER

Seeing the tower from the outside is a great experience but if you want to see more, you’ll want to book a tour of the tower. The lines can get quite long as it’s one of the most famous landmarks in Portugal. You’ll save a lot of time and headaches by purchasing your tickets ahead of time. There are other tour options available as well including some that combine other landmarks or experiences.

Tower of Belem

BELEM TOWER FACTS

1. The tower originally functioned as a lighthouse using open flames to guide ships into its harbor

2. The designs on the tower reflect the regions that were discovered around the globe by the Portuguese

3. There are navigation markings included on the designs of the towers highlighting their importance during the discovery

4. There is a nautical alcove on the lower level for navigational purposes highlighting the practical use and design of the tower

5. While primarily a Manueline design the tower features both Moorish and Italian Renaissance design features and inspiration

6. Much of the material for construction was from local areas predominately limestone from the Sintra area

7. To set a stable foundation in the sandy soil an innovative design for the foundation was employed using stone and wooden piles.

8. Ferdinand Magellan’s historic expedition to circumnavigate the globe included a stop at Belem in 1519.

9. Vasco da Gama’s famous expedition to find a sea route to India departed from Belem in 1497.

10. Military architects Diogo de Boitaca and Francisco de Arruda were involved in the construction of the tower.

ENJOY YOUR VISIT TO BELEM TOWER

Belem Tower is a beautifully designed and architectural marvel set in a stunning area. It’s well worth the visit just to see it for yourself and even more so if you decide to go inside. Though it’s outside the main city center of Lisbon, it’s easy to get to and well worth the effort to get there. As great as Belem Tower is, there is so much more to see in Lisbon. Find out how long you’ll need to see the rest of Lisbon and see if the nearby Jeronimos Monastery is worth a visit.

Author

  • Jeremiah Pittmon

    Jeremiah Pittmon is a published travel writer and photographer from Cleveland, Ohio. Passionate about exploring the world with his family, he finds inspiration in all types of travel. Through his blog, smilesonarrival.com, and social media channels, he shares captivating experiences and valuable tips for families who love to travel.

    View all posts
Is Belem Tower Worth Visiting?
Scroll to Top