The History behind Padrão dos Descobrimentos|Lisbon


The Padrão dos Descobrimentos, or the Discoveries Monument, that stands today was built in time for the 500-year-anniversary of the death of Portugal’s Prince Henry the Navigator and to symbolize Portugal’s role during the Age of Discoveries.

The History behind Padrão dos Descobrimentos

From temporary exhibition display to a modern landmark

The Padrão dos Descobrimentos was originally built in 1940, as a temporary display for the Portuguese World Exhibition.

The materials used to construct the initial monument were not long-lasting, mainly consisting of plaster and burlap with some wood added to the mix.

One year later, a strong cyclone stole the main hero of this monument: the wind ripped the figure of Infante D. Henrique.

In 1960, for celebrating the 500th anniversary of the death of Infante D. Henrique, the Monument to the Discoveries was rebuilt. Using concrete and stone, this time, the monument resembles the bow of a ship pointing towards the sea from its location along Tagus River, in Belem.

Padrao dos descobrimentos_ d. Henrique

The navigator, Infante D. Henrique, returned to the prow and the monument remains towering up to today. He was the most important person of the Discoveries, and it seems he is still leading these Portuguese legends through the sea.

The location of the monument is as symbolic as the monument itself, denoting where many important voyages began and ended.

Who are the people in Padrão dos Descobrimentos?

A statue of D. Henriques, the Navigator, stands at the front, and 32 of the most influential Portuguese figures from the 14th and 15th centuries are lined up behind him along the ramps on both sides. Among them is the navigator and explorer Vasco da Gama—who was the first person to reach India by sea routes—the navigator and explorer Ferdinand Magellan—the first person in the world to circumnavigate the globe—and Portuguese poet Luís de Camões, a literary pioneer.

The Compass Rose

The compass rose that adorns the square in front of the Padrāo dos Descobrimentos is made of black and red lioz limestone. It contains a 14 m-wide planisphere decorated with vegetal elements, 5 small compass roses, 3 blowing faces personifying the wind, a mermaid, a mythical fish and Neptune with a trident and a trumpet, riding a marine beast. Dates, ships and caravels mark the main routes of the Portuguese expansion between the 15th and 16th centuries. 

The Compass Rose_padrao dos descobrimentos

Where is Padrão dos Descobrimentos?

Padrāo dos Descobrimentos is in Belém, in Lisboa, Portugal.

FAQ’s about Padrão dos Descobrimentos

How to get there?

Padrão dos Descobrimentos is on Av. Brasília 1400-038 Lisboa
Train: Estação de Belém
Tram: Carreira 15
Bus: 714 – 727 – 728 – 729 – 751

When is it open?

Summertime (March to September): Everyday 10 am to 7 pm
Wintertime (October to February): From Tuesday to Sunday 10 am to 6pm

How much does it cost?

Adults: 6 euros
Children (until 13 years of age) free
13 – 25 years of age: 5 euros


I’m Sofia, a Portuguese native, who, quit my job, packed 20 kg of my life into a backpack and moved to Australia. I have been fuelled by my new life to experience more adventure rather than settle, pursing even more my desire to travel, explore and being outdoors.

This blog aims to inspire, intrigue and encourage readers around the world to travel further, longer and wider and also to share my passion for an outdoor lifestyle.

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