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Monument to the Discoveries

Monument to the Discoveries
Discoveries Monument
© LoggaWiggler
Mappa Mundi
© José Manuel / All rights reserved
Padrão dos Descobrimentos
© LoggaWiggler

Padrão dos Descobrimentos

52 metre high monument on the waterside in Belem. The monument was built to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator. It features 33 prominent people of that era

Celebrating the achievements of explorers during the building of Portugal's empire is the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Discoveries Monument). It represents a ship's prow featuring more than 30 statues of historical figures who played a big part in Portugal's Age of Discoveries. These include King Alfonso V, Vasco da Gama, Pedro Alvares Cabral and Ferdinand Magellan, with Henry the Navigator being the most prominent. On the pavement, just in front of the monument you will find the Mappa Mundi, a giant marble map of the world and important dates in history on the monument.

Located next to the marina in Belém, the monument looks out over the Tejo (Tagus) river from the north bank. It towers over 160 ft (52 metres) with visitors can access the rooftop via a lift to experience the panoramic views across the Tagus river and Belém. The initial Padrão dos Descobrimentos was built in 1940 for the World Exhibition as a temporary monument. The towering slab of concrete that we see today was built in 1960 as a replica of the original to mark the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator.

Inside the monument you'll also find exhibition spaces which regularly showcase different collections relating to Lisbon's history. It's worth exploring this small museum and the rest of the inside before heading up the lift to see the rooftop views. Below is the full list of historic figures featured on the monument:

  • Afonso V of Portugal
  • Vasco da Gama (discoverer of the sea route to India)
  • Afonso Gonçalves Baldaia (navigator)
  • Pedro Álvares Cabral (discoverer of Brazil)
  • Ferdinand Magellan (first to circumnavigate the globe)
  • Nicolau Coelho (navigator)
  • Gaspar Corte-Real (navigator)
  • Martim Afonso de Sousa (navigator)
  • João de Barros (writer)
  • Estêvão da Gama (sea captain)
  • Bartolomeu Dias (first to cross over the Cape of Good Hope)
  • Diogo Cão (first to arrive to the Congo river)
  • António de Abreu (navigator)
  • Afonso de Albuquerque (second viceroy of Portuguese India)
  • Saint Francis Xavier (missionary)
  • Cristóvão da Gama (captain)
  • Peter, Duke of Coimbra (son of King John I of Portugal)
  • Queen Philippa of Lancaster
  • Fernão Mendes Pinto (explorer and writer)
  • Gonçalo de Carvalho (missionary dominican)
  • Henrique de Coimbra (missionary franciscan)
  • Luís de Camões (renaissance poet who celebrated the navigations in the epic Lusiads)
  • Nuno Gonçalves (painter)
  • Gomes Eanes de Zurara (chronicler)
  • Pêro da Covilhã (traveller)
  • Jácome de Maiorca (cartographer)
  • Pedro Escobar (pilot)
  • Pedro Nunes (mathematician)
  • Pêro de Alenquer (pilot)
  • Gil Eanes (navigator)
  • João Gonçalves Zarco (navigator)
  • Ferdinand the Holy Prince (son of King John I of Portugal)

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