Dürer’s Rhino?

Lisbon is such a fascinating town that one can only fall in love with it day in, day out. There is so much story and history tucked away in all corners. Now what does Albert Dürer‘s famous rhino (German painter, engraver, printmaker and theorist from Nurenberg) have to do with Portugal? :)

Belém Tower

In 1515, during the reign of King Manuel I the construction of the Belem Tower was ordered in Manueline Style as a lighthouse and a defensive fortress at the entrance of the River Tagus.

This style is also called the Portuguese’s late Gothic architecture which incorporates maritime elements and symbols of discoveries era. It was then constructed on a small island off the river; however, the shift of the riverbank location has resulted to it standing on the mainland at present.

The whole complex is composed of four-story tower on a hexagonal ground plan very much visible from a distance. Its main façade is facing the sea. The character of the tower is shown particularly in the lower bastion, offshore.

The three sides of the tower seen from the riverbank have roofed balconies. These balconies have the Cross of the Knights of Christ, while below the altar of the bastion stands a Gothic statue of Nossa Senhora do Bom Sucesso (Our Lady of Good Fortune).

A noteworthy part of the architecture is the rhinoceros’ head below the west tower facing the land. It is said to commemorate the first rhino in Europe given to Manuel I as a present from India.

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