Lisbon has a thriving tourism industry and this is probably because the city is steeped in culture and history. While there are many things to do in Lisbon, you should not miss an opportunity to visit the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You will be left awestruck by these sites given their architecture and beauty.
In 1755, the Lisbon was devastated by a huge earthquake and then was subjected to a tsunami and fires. As a result, most building and structures were destroyed. But, there were two structures that withstood this devastation and these were the Belem Tower and Jeronimos Monastery.
Known as Torre de Belem in Portuguese, this 4-story high structure is more than 30 meters in height. It was constructed in 1521 and stands on a small island close to the shores of Tagus River. The tower was initially meant as a defense system to protect the city from seafaring invaders. Today, this beautiful limestone edifice is a gateway into the city. It is also known as Tower of St. Vincent, who is the patron saint of the city.
The neighborhood around the tower is full of old buildings that you make a point to check out. This is the area where you will be able to transport yourself to golden Age of Discovery when the likes of Bartholomeu Diaz, Prince Henry the Navigator, Vasco da Gama and Ferdinand Magellan lived and enthralled people with their discoveries.
This monastery is famous for its Manueline-style architecture and was constructed in the 16th century by Prince Henry the Navigator. It was meant to be a hermitage for seafaring explorers, who used to come here to pray before setting off on their voyage of discoveries. This is the same monastery where Vasco da Gama sought spiritual guidance before setting off to sail in 1497 to India.
The monastery is ornate and beautiful and houses the Church of Santa Maria, the tombs and sarcophagi of the royal family and Vasco da Gama and the National Archaeological Museum. In addition, there is the Maritime Museum in the monastery that boasts of 17,000 items and you will even be able to get a glimpse of the ancient ships and boats that the famous Portuguese explorers used. These are present in the form of models and replicas. Do not miss out the vast collect of maps from the 16th century that were drafted by these explorers during their voyages.
After visiting the monastery, you can visit the Discoveries Monument, which is close by. It is shaped like a ship and can be extremely educational. You will be able to find a lot of information about famous explorers and their voyages here.
While there are many things to do in Lisbon, these are two World Heritage Sites that you should make it a point to visit. You will not be disappointed.
The World Heritage Sites of Lisbon