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Padrao dos Descobrimentos Discovery Monument Lisbon

The Padrao dos Descobrimentos is an imposing and iconic monument located on the banks of the River Tagus in Lisbon. The structure is dedicated to the adventurers and explores who helped establish Portugal as a 14th century superpower. The original Padrao dos Descobrimentos was constructed from wood and was the central piece for the 1940 world fair.

explores of Portugal

The explores of Portugal on the Padrao dos Descobrimentos monument

The present reincarnation dates from the 1960’s when the trend was of imposing and mighty concrete structures. The 52m tall monument dominates the shoreline and manages to combine both grandeur with fine carved details.

From a distance the harsh and powerful styled monument seems slightly out of place in the pleasant and historic Belem district but by drawing closer it becomes apparent that it is rightly positioned by celebrating the achievements of Belem and the Portuguese. For visitors the Padrao dos Descobrimentos offers a small museum and a viewing platform that offers panoramic view over the Tejo estuary and Belem.

Padrao dos Descobrimentos Tourist Guide

There are three tourist aspects to the Discoveries Monument; the first is the well photographed and documented exterior, the second is the small museum inside the monument that details the history of Lisbon and the third is the viewing platform at the top of the structure.

Discoveries Monument Lisbon

The viewing platform and museum are open Tuesday to Sunday between 10:00-19:00 (summer season) 10:00-18:00 (low season) but closed on Monday along with most monuments in Belem. The entrance fee is €3.00/€2.00/€8.00 (adult/child/family) and a typical visit lasts between 30-45 minutes. Belem and the Padrao dos Descobrimentos is not connected to the metro network and the easiest public transport option is by tram (number 15, unfortunately not the quaint old style tram) that departs from Praça do Comércio. Buses which follow the same tram route are services number 27, 28, 29, 43 and 49.

Design of the Discoveries Monument

The Discoveries Monument was designed to represent the prow of a ship when viewed from the banks of the Tagus while to appear as Latin cross when viewed from Jeronimos Monastery and the rear of the monument. The Padrao dos Descobrimentos styling arcs from the communist era of large imposing monuments that promote past glory while challenging anyone to question the power of the state.

The Monumento Combatentes Ultramar Lisbon

The Padrao dos Descobrimentos monument

This on closer inspection is not so true; the figures have delicate details to such an extent that each of the characters has their own frozen personality. The carved figures along the western side depict the explores and adventures of the 14th century golden era while to the eastern side the supports and financiers of the expeditions are captured in stone. The monument is positioned on the old harbour of Belem where many these voyages of discovery originated from but the harbour no longer exists as filled in by the altered flow of the river.

History of the Padrao dos Descobrimentos

The Padrao dos Descobrimentos was originally built as a temporary centre piece for the World fair of 1940 that was hosted by Lisbon. This event was intended to increase trade during the harsh depression years and for Portugal to enhance its position of neutrality within the growing tensions of the world. The original Padrao dos Descobrimentos was constructed from wood and plaster and was intended to be dismantled after the fair. During the later stages of Salazar's rule there was a trend of romantic idealisation of Portuguese history and the Discoveries Monument was converted to a permanent feature. The re-fabrication was completed in 1960 to coincide with the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator and this celebration was embraced by Salazar. The figure of Henry the Navigator is positioned at the front of the monument staring out towards the Atlantic Ocean.

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