Tour Locations | Lisbon: The Age of Discovery

  • LOCATION 20 | Lisbon: The Age of Discovery

    Monument to the Discoveries Eastern Side

    Find a place to sit and contemplate the eastern façade of the building.

    I suggest by the metal Armillary Sphere, on its bench.

    [3 SECOND PAUSE]

    Did you spot the sword/cross on its frontal façade? It’s the sword of the Avis dynasty, on a stylized cross.
    The sword and the cross symbolize the growth of the empire and faith, which are here used to express the idea of the Crusades through sculpture.

    Look at the monument.

    It’s a modern building, even though it evokes the Portuguese Age of Discovery.

    Can you recognize some of the features of modern architecture?

    The monument evokes the Portuguese overseas expansion. It recalls the country’s glorious past and symbolizes the enormity of the work carried out by Prince Henry the Navigator, who was the driving force behind the Discoveries.

    It was first erected in 1940, in a temporary form, as part of the Great Portuguese World Exhibition that I mentioned earlier.
    The architect was Cottinelli Telmo and the sculptor was Leopoldo de Almeida.

    It was reconstructed in 1960 to mark 500 years since the death of Prince Henry the Navigator.

    This time, it was made with more durable materials like concrete and local stones like limestone.

    A stylized caravel seems to be setting out to sea, with Henry the Navigator in its prow.

    On the two lateral ramps ascending to the symbolic figure of the prince, are some of the major figures of the Portuguese overseas expansion and cultural figures from the Age of Discovery.

    There’s 32 in total, all portrayed with symbols that allude to their identity: navigators, cartographers, warriors, colonizers, missionaries, chroniclers and artists.

    Let’s see who they are, shall we?

    On this side of the monument, from left to right are:

    Henry the Navigator, holding a model of a carrack. Easy to recognize this one, right?

    Then we have King Afonso V.

    Then Vasco da Gama, navigator and discoverer of the sea route to India.

    Afonso Gonçalves Baldaia, navigator.

    Pedro Álvares Cabral, navigator and the first European to reach Brazil.

    Fernão de Magalhães or maybe better known to you as Ferdinand Magellan. Does the name ring a bell? He was a navigator and first to circumnavigate the globe.

    Then we have Nicolau Coelho, Gaspar Corte-Real and Martim Afonso de Sousa. All three were navigators

    João de Barros, a writer.

    Estêvão da Gama, a sea captain.

    Bartolomeu Dias, navigator and first European to round the Cape of Good Hope. Diogo Cão, navigator and the first European to reach the Congo river.

    These last two are holding the “padrão”, which were stone markers to signal the presence of the Portuguese and Portugal's right to possession.

    Then there's António de Abreu, navigator as well.

    Afonso de Albuquerque, Governor and second Vice-roy of Portuguese India. We have seen his statue previously in front of Belém Palace, remember?

    Next is Saint Francisco Xavier, a missionary and lastly Cristóvão da Gama, a captain.

    [1.5 SECOND PAUSE]

    Can you memorize all of them? Hmmm… No? No worries, me neither and, believe me, I have seen them a few times…

    [2 SECOND PAUSE]

    When you're ready, move over to the western façade now, which is on the other side of the monument.

    Let’s see who’s on that façade, shall we?

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