Monument to the Discoveries

Padrao dos descobrimentos: Ode to Ancient Explorers

Monument to the Discoveries or, in Portuguese, Padrao dos descobrimentos in Lisbon is located in Belem district on the Tagus River’s bank, where ships once departed to discover and explore new regions of the world. The Belem district is renowned for its historical monuments and is very popular with the tourists for this very reason.

Padrao dos descobrimentos in Lisbon is a historical structure that is dedicated to the people of Portugal who participated in the Ages of Discovery during the 15th & 16th Centuries. The side of the monument that doesn’t face the river is craved like a sword and stretches the entire 50 meters height of the building. Another of its most distinctive features is a huge mariner’s compass carved out of paving stone. This compass was gifted by the Republic of South Africa in the year 1960 and is best viewed from the top of this structure. A central world map depicts mermaids as well as galleons, and showcases the various routes discovered during the 15th & 16th centuries.

The now-standing monument has been reconstructed in concrete, while the original one was made using perishable materials. The structure was rebuilt to commemorate the 500th death anniversary of Henry the Navigator, who is also considered to be the father of the “Portuguese Discoveries”. His statue has been placed at the extreme top of the monument looking out at the Tagus. Additionally, 33 famous personalities including artists, explorers, scientists, cartographers and missionaries are also placed behind Henry’s statue on either sides of the structure. Some of these names include: “Infante D. Pedro”, Duke of Coimbra; Queen Filipa de Lencastre; Friar Gonçalo de Carvalho; Nuno Gonçalves (painter); Pedro Escobar (navigator) among many others.

Designed by a group of artists and architects including Cottinelli Telmo and Leopoldo de Almeida, the Discoveries Monument is the best representative of Portugal’s romantic idealization that was symbolic of old Estado Novo regime.

The Monument of the Discoveries Lisbon can be reached through an underpass from the gardens of Jeronimos Monastery.

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