While in Lisbon (Portugal) recently, I got to tick off another Unesco world heritage site. Physically this is two sites, but they are in short walking distance of each other but they classed as one.
First the Monastery of the Hieronymites was built on the site of a chapel which was founded by Henry the Navigator, famous for being the place where Vasco da Gama and his crew spent the night before leaving for their voyage to India. It is thought the monastery was in part, built by King Manuel I to commemorate the success of the voyage. Vasco da Gama’s tomb was placed inside the entrance the monastery, as well as the tomb of Luis de Camões, a famous poet. The monastery was home to monks of the Order of Saint Jerome (Hieronymites), whose job was to pray for the king’s soul as well as to provide spiritual guidance to sailors and navigators.
Built in 1515, the Tower of Belém (or the Tower of St. Vincent as it is officially known) is a fortified tower which was part of the defence system for Lisbon in the 16th century. In order to enhance Lisbon’s defence, King João II devised a plan which consisted of a three-fortress-defence on the Tagus’s estuary. It formed a triangle and on each angle, a fortress was constructed: Cascais’s fortress on the right bank, S. Sebastião da Caparica on the left bank and Belém Tower in the water. For the many Portuguese explorers and sailors this tower would have been the last sight of their homeland.
You can find out more about these monuments on the Unesco website here.