Portugal might be small now, but the Portuguese have been masters of the world centuries ago. It is the motherland of famous discoverers like Vasco da Gama and Magellan - names which still now inspire people anywhere. They were the daring characters who did not mind to sail unknown seas to unknown destinations all over the world. Look at the world map and you will see their names given to straits, channels, bights and bays across the world. Apart from explorers and navigators, the monument also represents famous Portuguese writers, painters, chroniclers, scientists, and missionaries.
Even though they discovered lands that were often already inhabited, they had the courage to set out on trips without knowing anything of what they could expect. They enabled the world to become mapped and charted, and their voyages would have both very powerful impulses for some people, while at the same time they had detrimental effects on others. When you approach the monument, you come across a large world map on the pavement, gift from the South African government in 1960. Here, you can see the corners of the world explored, in the 15th and 16th centuries, by various Portuguese adventurers, as well as the former Portuguese colonies that stretched from South America to Africa and the Far East.
To honour its heroes, Portugal decided to erect a monument for the occasion of the World Fair in 1940. It was rebuilt in 1960 in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator, the sponsor of the Portuguese discoveries. It takes the shape of the prow of a 15th-century boat, points directly to the river Tagus, with famous Portuguese figures looking forward to what is ahead. Right at the bow of the ship is a Henry the Navigator himself, holding a model of one of the caravelas which the Portuguese used to sail the oceans. It is possible to enter the Monument to the Discoveries and go up the tower which allows for a good view over Belém and the wind-rose below the monument.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Monument of Discoveries (Portugal). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Monument of Discoveries. Read more about this site.