‘Monument to the Discoveries’ – This Site Will Take You Back Into The Country’s Glorious Past That Is Nothing But Mesmerizing.
When your passion to travel brings you to Lisbon, regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, the capital of Portugal is sure to leave you spell bound.
Lisbon being a city that runs along the Atlantic Coast and also home to the river Tagus has rich historical background. Not only did the spice trade business grow in leaps and bounds, making it one of the major economic centers, but the open waters gave rise to maritime explorers like Vasco da Gama who discovered the sea route to India, discovery of Brazil and reaching to Cape of Good Hope.
Since it was these open waters that have brought name and fame to Portugal and aided the country in becoming a 14th century superpower, dedicated to the explorers and the adventurers who helped establish the country is a monument called Padrão dos Descobrimentos or ‘Monument to the Discoveries’.
This magnificent monument stands alone in an unusual position on the banks of the river Tagus. It is this Monument to the Discoveries that recalls the Portuguese overseas expansion and is also a symbol of the enormity of the work carried out by the Infante, the driving force behind the Discoveries. A visit to this site will take you back into the country’s glorious past that is nothing but mesmerizing.
The Padrão dos Descobrimentos was crafted by Cottinelli Telmo and the sculptor Leopoldo de Almeida and was first placed in 1940, in a temporary form, as part of the Portuguese World Exhibition hosted by Lisbon. This was an event that was intended to increase trade during the harsh depression years and for Portugal to enhance its position of neutrality within the growing tensions of the world.
First built with perishable materials like wood and plaster, the monument was reconstructed in 1960 to mark 500 years since the death of the Infante Dom Henrique (Henry the Navigator). This time it was made of concrete and rose-tinted, with addition of sculptures made of Sintra limestone masonry.
The Centro Cultural das Descobertas was opened in 1985. Architect Fernando Ramalho remodeled the interior, giving the monument a viewpoint, auditorium and exhibition hall.
There are three tourist aspects to the Discoveries Monument. The first is the well photographed and documented exterior, the second is the small museum inside the monument that details the history of Lisbon and the third is the viewing platform at the top of the structure.
What might look like a structure very out of place in the serene Belem district, it is only when you come closer and take a look at the detailing and learn about its history that you will be awestruck.
For visitors the Padrao dos Descobrimentos offers a small museum and a viewing platform that offers panoramic view over the Tejo estuary and Belem.
The viewing platform and museum are open Tuesday to Sunday between 10:00-19:00 (summer season) 10:00-18:00 (low season) but closed on Monday along with most monuments in Belem. You take a local tram or bus ride to the site.