Portugal Monument to the Discoveries

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Sue Wolfe

About this spot
Padrão dos Descobrimentos, also known as the Monument to the Discoveries, is a new monument on Lisbon’s waterfront compared to its neighbor, Belém Tower.

The original monument was built from wood and plaster for the 1940 World Fair. It was eventually dismantled, and construction of the current limestone, concrete and steel version began in 1958. This permanent structure was inaugurated on August 9, 1960, in time to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Henry the Navigator’s death.

The monument resembles the prow of a caravel—the type of small sailing ship used in Portuguese exploration. The swooping side arches represent sails, and from the rear a Latin cross with a downward pointing sword can be seen.

On either side is a ramp with 16 figures—all from the Portuguese Age of Discovery. The statues include monarchs, explorers, cartographers, artists, scientists, and missionaries. Magellan and da Gama are names you might recognize. The ramps merge at the front with a likeness of Henry the Navigator looking towards the sea.

Its location on the Tejo Estuary provides an incredible panoramic view if you pay the small fee to take the elevator and stairs to the viewing platform 52 meters up.

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