Welcome to the port of Lisbon! The first thing that arriving ships will see is the magnificent Tower of Belém.
This 35 meter high tower was built in 1521 to greet and welcome all visitors to Lisbon. As a world leading naval power at the time, Portugal wanted to make a statement with this grandiose structure.
And what a statement it is! The Tower of Belém is truly a sight to behold.
The gardens in front of the tower invite you to take a stroll, and from the 35-meter-high observation deck you can look far out over the sea. Besides, inside the tower you will find the first representation of a rhinoceros made by a European artist.
A visit to this historic site is only possible until 5:30 pm. By the way, this is the case with many Lisbon sights.
So be sure to plan your Lisbon itinerary accordingly.
Buy the ticket for Torre de Belém here, so that you don’t need to stand and wait in the line.
This ticket gives you access to Belém Tower, the Governor’s and King’s Chambers, chapel, lower and upper batteries, plus unbeatable views of the Tagus river.
You’ll get the ticket on your smartphone so that you only need to show it at the entrance or choose a printed version.
Opening times for the Belém Tower
Tuesday: 09:30 – 18:00
Wednesday: 09:30 – 18:00
Thursday: 09:30 – 18:00
Friday: 09:30 – 18:00
Saturday: 09:30 – 18:00
Sunday: 09:30 – 18:00
Last admission: 30 minutes before closing
Extra tip about getting Belém tower tickets:
If you want to see the Tower Belém and more sights, then save stress and money with the popular Lisboa Card. You can choose between 24, 48 or 72 hours, and you can use public transportation as much as you want!
That includes the famous wooden tram ride 28, the elevadores like “Santa Justa elevator” and even a free train ride to Sintra and Cascais.
It includes free admission to top attractions, and further sweet discounts.
Check out our guide on how to get around Lisbon.
Background of the Tower of Belém
The Tower of Belém was commissioned by King Manuel I as a defense against enemy ships. The fortress, which still stands today, is built in the Manueline style – a unique late Gothic architecture found only in Portugal. Construction of the tower replaced an existing ship that patrolled the area to protect Lisbon’s port entrance.
Across from the tower on the other side of river Tagus, there was once another tower so that any incoming enemy ships could be caught in a crossfire. However, this second tower has not stood since 1755 when a devastating earthquake struck Lisbon. Originally, Torre de Belém sat on a small island off the right bank of the Tagus River, but over time land has risen, and now it can be reached via a small bridge. Interestingly enough, Torre de Belém is one of few structures that survived the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755.
Prison, customs station and monument
The tower was converted into a prison and customs station after Lisbon was occupied by Spanish troops in 1580. In the 1840s, the Torre de Belém was restored. Today, the tower is a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the nearby Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. The southern facade is richly decorated with royal symbols and typical architectural elements of the 16th century. The best way to view the southern facade is from the terrace of the bulwark.
Visiting the Tower of Belém is one of the not to miss experiences in Lisbon.
Interior: Armory and King’s Hall
The foundation of the structure was a bulwark, used to store food and weapons. There are embrasures here too. The tower itself has four floors- on the second floor is the room of the governor, and above that is the king’s hall (which has an ornate loggia with arches and holes in its floor so that those inside could fire). On fourth floor there is a chapel. The highlight of visiting this tower: at its very top is an observation deck 35 meters high from which you can see all of Belém, Lisbon, and even Tagus River.
If you’re looking to visit one of the most important sights in Lisbon, be sure to put Tower Belém at the top of your list. And if you’re wondering how to buy tickets to the tower, we’ve got you covered.
Just head to our Tiqets website and purchase your tickets there. Easy as that!
And if you want to see more sights and use the public transport, choose the Lisboa Card, to get a great value for your trip.