A Glimpse of Belem Tower

What are some of the most memorable landmarks you’ve visited in your travels?

No Lisbon catalog is complete without some photos of the iconic Belem Tower. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, it serves as the unofficial gatekeeper of Lisbon. It was built to fortify the harbor, but it was left incomplete for many years when the original king who ordered it died.


Legend says it was originally built in the middle of the Tagus River, but an earthquake diverted the river, leaving the tower on the present shore. However, records indicate the river never diverted in such a way; the tower was instead built on a small island just offshore.

We lucked out with some dry weather that day, and the area wasn’t too crowded. Furthermore, as a photographer, I greatly appreciated the fact that visitors are held on the shore until they can go inside, instead of crowding the boardwalk leading to the entrance. We elected to not pay the admission fee to go inside this time around; it was a beautiful sight from the outside!

While we were in the area, we also walked the few blocks to see the Monument to Overseas Combatants. This triangular memorial remembers the Portuguese soldiers who lost their lives in the Colonial War in Africa (known locally as the Overseas War). The lake is said to symbolize the water that separated the soldiers from their homeland, and the eternal flame holds a constant vigil over the fallen men and women.

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