Belém Tower in Lisbon

This truly historic site was built in 1520 and is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. The Belém Tower was built on the banks of the Tagus in Lisbon in order to defend the city, and years later it was repurposed as a lighthouse and then a customs house.

The tower was designed by Francisco de Arruda, a Portuguese architect and artist. It includes five floors and a roof terrace. The first floor has 16 cannons installed in 16 windows as well as prison pits. To climb up to the other floors you might have to wait for others to climb down, since the staircase is very narrow.

From the west, you can see the Belém Tower’s gargoyle, shaped like a rhinoceros, probably created after the first rhino arrived in Portugal in 1513 and impressed the artist.

Belém Tower is located about six km from Lisbon, to get there take the tram, bus, or train, and be ready to pay a small entrance fee (€6 without discount).