Lisbon, PortugalApril 6 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C
Lisbon was the center of Europe's longest-lived overseas empire. Portugal's imperial ambitions date back to Prince Henry the Navigator's 15th-century discoveries in West Africa. Morning sightseeing with a local guide featured a drive through the Baixa quarter's main squares and a walk along the cobblestone alleys of quaint Alfama, the popular quarter of the seaman and Fado singers. Continued with a drive along the grand Avenida da Liberdade to Pombal Square with a stop for pictures of Belem Tower guarding the mouth of the Tagus and the Monument to the Discoveries.
The Tower of Belem was built in 1515 as a fortress to guard the entrance to Lisbon's harbor and was the starting point for many of the voyages of discovery and for the sailors it was the last sight of their homeland. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (along with the nearby Jerónimos Monastery) because of the significant role it played in the Portuguese maritime discoveries of the era of the Age of Discoveries. The tower was commissioned by King John II to be part of a defence system at the mouth of the Tagus river and a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon.
Tour of Jeronimos Monastery with the tomb of Vasco da Gama who was a Portuguese explorer and the first European to reach India by sea. His initial voyage to India (1497–1499) was the first to link Europe and Asia by an ocean route, connecting the Atlantic and the Indian oceans and therefore, the West and the Orient. He died December 24, 1524 around the age of 60.
The Jerónimos Monastery or Hieronymites Monastery is a former monastery of the Order of Saint Jerome near the Tagus river. The monastery is one of the most prominent examples of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture in Lisbon. It was classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the nearby Tower of Belém, in 1983. The construction of the monastery and church began on January 6, 1501 and was completed 100 years later. King Manuel originally funded the project with moneys obtained from the Vintena da Pimenta, a 5 percent tax on commerce from Africa and the Orient, equivalent to 70kg of gold per year with the exception of those taxes collected on the importation of pepper, cinnamon and cloves which went directly to the Crown. With the influx of such riches, the architects were not limited to small-scale plans, and resources already prescribed for the Monastery of Batalha, including the Aviz pantheon, were redirected to the project in Belém. Manuel I selected the religious order of Hieronymite monks to occupy the monastery whose role it was to pray for the King's eternal soul and to provide spiritual assistance to navigators and sailors who departed from the port of Restelo to discover lands around the world. The monks did this for over four centuries until 1833 when the religious orders were dissolved and the monastery was abandoned.Read more