A towering achievement
One of Portugal’s most famous monuments, the Torre de Belém, has recently undergone an urgent and thorough facelift. Located on the outskirts of Lisbon by the Tagus River, the tower now looks as good as new.
“The project has restored the Torre de Belém to its rightful status as one of Portugal’s most attractive and most visited monuments.”
Helena Pinheiro de Azevedo, President, Comissão Directiva do Programa Operacional Valorização do Território
Work to maintain and preserve the 16th-century tower was carried out over three years and co-funded by the European Union. As a result, the building has been restored to its former glory and is again attracting thousands of tourists ever year and hosting public exhibitions.
Built in the early 16th century for King Manuel I, the Torre de Belém was a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon and a form of defence for the city. It is renowned for its delicate architecture, with a five-storey high tower and a bastion below. It features Islamic and Eastern-style decorative elements, plus Manueline-style symbols around the building – such as elegant knots, armillary spheres, and crosses of the Military Order of Christ.
A project to physically restore the tower and preserve it for the future started in May 2005 and ended in September 2008. It was overseen by the Lisbon region and was half-financed by the EU.
The work included improvements to the tower’s signs and historical heritage interpretation, for the benefit of visitors. Window frames were repaired. Experts also conserved and restored the ‘troneiras’ (Manueline cribs) and bronze on wooden supports inside the tower.
A major visitor attraction
The project has ensured that the Torre de Belém can face the future with confidence and that its physical structure is now well preserved – in keeping with its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It notably reclaimed an area of more than 3 000 m2 and recovered or restored 15 physical-heritage features.
Thanks to the project, the tower has seen a significant increase in visitor numbers. It currently welcomes some 830 000 people a year. Many of them come to enjoy the cultural exhibitions held on site.
FundERDF for the 2000 to 2006 programming period
Total InvestmentEUR 266 277
EU InvestmentEUR 133 138
Comissão Directiva do Programa Operacional Valorização do Território
Lote 1.07.2.1, Piso 2
P -1998-014 , Lisboa