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Sights & Landmarks
Monument to the Discoveries, in Portuguese known as Padrão dos Descobrimentos, is one of the most important landmarks in the capital of Portugal, Lisbon. It is a glorious and imposing monument, located on the bank of Tejo Estuary and facing the Belem Tower.
The structure was established in order to celebrate and commemorate the Age of Discovery and the significant role of Portugal in it. Apart from that, the landmark also glorifies the monarch Infante D. Henrique (Henry the Navigator), who is considered the "grandfather" of said Age of Discovery.
The Monument has a quite interesting history, including a specific kind of resurrection. Originally built in 1940 by the architect José Ângelo Cottinelli Telmo along with sculptor Leopoldo de Almeida, it was a temporary structure out of frail materials. The construction was created for the Portuguese World Exhibition and erected in Praça do Império. However, later it was demolished, only to be revived 20 years later by the architect António Pardal Monteiro. This time, permanence was the key element. Therefore, the new exact replica of the original Padrão dos Descobrimentos was made out of Leiria stone masonry and concrete.
Officially inaugurated on 9 August 1960 in honor of the fifth centenary of the King Henry's death, the construction has quickly become the national symbol of glory and a must-see for tourists. Padrão dos Descobrimentos is a 56-meter high monument shaped as a prow of a traditional Portuguese fast ship named caravel. Three triangular pieces are carved to look like sails blowing in the wind.
Moreover, the structure is equipped with over 30 statues of the most important figures during the Age of Discovery, including navigators and those who reinforced progress in this period in other fields besides expeditions. The first is, of course, Infante Dom Henrique, standing with the small caravel model in his hands. Behind him, two colonies extended on both sides of the monument. On the eastern side, you can see the great explorers of the Age of Discovery, e.g. Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan, Pedro Álvares Cabral. On the western side, there are the scientists and literateurs of that era along with the mother of King Henry, Queen Felipa. In front of the Monument to Discoveries lies the mosaic, depicting the wind rose with Mappa Mundi (Map of the World) in the center. Here, all the routes of Portuguese explorers are marked, as well as territories they discovered. The mosaic was a gift from the South African government in 1960.
Monument to the Discoveries has also an interior, divided into three levels. On the top floor, you can have arguably the best views in the whole Lisbon, namely: on the Belem Tower and district. The second floor is the space for exhibitions and the first floor hosts an auditorium for 101 people and a film projector. Here, the visuals of Lisbon's history are often shown to the spectators.
So, don't miss the national monument of Portugal - Monument to the Discoveries, commemorating the great Age of Discovery and standing on the bank of the Tejo river, as if ready to go back into the unknown sea.
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