12 // WWW.BLOCHOTELS.COM The Belém Tower, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of Lis- bon’s most striking monuments and the icon of a country histori- cally moulded by its proximity to the ocean and its maritime dis- coveries of new worlds. Discoveries by Portuguese nav- igators transformed Lisbon into the world’s main trade hub in the 15th and 16th centuries. To protect the city, King João II conceived a pioneer project to defend Lisbon from enemy ships, a work completed in 1514 and which included the building of the Belém Tower, designed by architect Francisco de Arruda. The tower’s unique design in- cludes a modern and heavily armed bastion, protruding over the river. King Manuel I clearly wished the Belém Tower to stand as a last- ing symbol of his powerful reign by depicting the royal coat of arms, the armillary sphere and the cross of the Order of Christ.