The monumental monastery built by King Manuel I (1469-1521) with its richly decorated limestone facade is the most important building of the so-called Manuel style, a form of late Gothic. It was created after Vasco da Gama returned from his first trip to India. The Torre de Belém in the mouth of the Tejo is a symbol of the city of Lisbon and a symbol of Portugal as a sea and trading world power. Check liuxers to see more about Portugal.

Jeronimos Monastery and Belém Tower in Lisbon: Facts

Official title: Jeronimos Monastery and Belém Tower in Lisbon
Cultural monument: Mosteiro dos Jerónimos as a remarkable example of outstanding stonemasonry with the statue of Henry the Navigator and the image of “Our Holy Mother of Belém”; Tomb of the Portuguese monarchs, including of King Manuel I, Queen Maria Fernanda and King João III. as well as King Sebastião; Torre de Belém with the King’s Hall on Praia do Restelo
Continent: Europe
Country: Portugal
Location: Lisbon port
Appointment: 1983
Meaning: a masterpiece of Portuguese architecture, a reminder of the glorious discoveries of Vasco da Gama

Jeronimos Monastery and Belém Tower in Lisbon: History

1502 Order of the monastery building by King Manuel I.
1515-21 Belém Tower
1517 West portal with the kneeling statues of King Manuel and Queen Maria under the protection of St. John the Baptist and St. Jerome
1675 Silver tabernacle donated by Pedro II
1894 Tomb made for Vasco da Gama in the Almeida da Garrett Chapel
December 21, 1918 in the Almeida da Garrett chapel laying out of the Portuguese President Dr. Sidónio Pais

Souvenirs from a world power

King Manuel I owed the crown to an accident. In 1491 the only legitimate son of King João II fell from his horse, was seriously injured and died shortly afterwards. When João II died soon afterwards, for lack of heir to the throne, the choice fell on the Duke of Beja, who soon made a name for himself as “Manuel the Lucky”. With him, the most glamorous epoch in its history began for Portugal.

In today’s Lisbon suburb of Belém, the Vasco da Gamas caravels lifted anchor in the summer of 1497 with the aim of finding the sea route to India and destroying the Arab trade monopoly in the Orient. Two years later, the Indian driver returned with the long-awaited report of success. She made the small country ruler of the seas and continents. In no time at all, Portugal built an empire that stretched around the globe.

Unimaginable riches flowed into Lisbon. Spices, gold and slaves kept the treasury full, and King Manuel I spent the money with full hands. As a thank you, a monastery was to be built, the dimensions of which would do justice to the significance of the discovery of the traveler to India. The foundation stone was laid where the famous seafarer’s caravels set sail to write world history: in Belém. Three years after the successful completion of the da Gamas expedition, builder Diogo Boytaca began work on the monastery. Fear of God, tyranny and architecture at the height of Michelangelo met in a time of plenty, so that this “palace of God” could grow upwards.

With a style that is unique in the world, the Manuel style, Manuel I set a monument for himself and the Portuguese seafaring nation. The simple, monumental basic structure comes from the late Gothic period, which was supplemented by stylistic elements from the early Renaissance and the oriental world. The specialty is the stonemasonry, richly decorated with maritime symbols. In the stone, artists like Nicolas de Chanterène worked the fantastic reports of the explorers about Muslim mosques, Indian temples, corals, algae, octopuses and other sea creatures they had encountered on the way. As a symbol of imperial ambition, an armillary sphere is emblazoned above everything, an old astronomical measuring device with concentric, partly movable rings, which represent the most important circles of the celestial sphere, and the cross of the Knights of Christ.

The south portal and the filigree cloister are among the masterpieces at the monastery. For one of Lisbon’s famous sons, the poet Fernando Pessoa, the south portal radiated “as a whole an exquisite harmony and deep, gentle piety.” About the western front he writes: “In every detail there is an exquisite sense of proportion and effect – in the arches, the surrounds, the shields and emblems, in the small and large niches populated by statues, in all the figures and decorations that reflect the gentle mysticism of that time. ”

Vasco da Gama’s sarcophagus was given a place of honor in the monastery church, which he later had to share with the national poet Luís de Camões. Unknown during his lifetime, Fernando Pessoa was only reburied after discovering his world literary rank among the national greats and buried in the Jeronimos Monastery.

In the time of Vasco da Gama, the Tagus still struck the steps of the monastery, and the Torre de Belém was a few meters away, in the middle of the river. The tower stood in the water like a caravel armed with heavy artillery, a stroke of genius by Francisco de Arruda. The captains of enemy ships sailing into the estuary had to think that the national fleet was ready to defend Europe’s most important port. However, the silting up of the Tagus and the lowering of the sea level have long made the tower a shoreline decoration.

Jeronimos Monastery and Belém Tower in Lisbon (World Heritage)

Jeronimos Monastery and Belém Tower in Lisbon (World Heritage)
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