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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Maritime expassion

In the background of this photo of Ana and Joana we see the the "Monument to the Discoveries" which was inaugurated in 1960 during celebrations of the 500 year anniversary of the death of the Infant D. Henrique (Henry the Navigator) in Portugal. It evoques the maritime expansion and is designed in the shape of a caravel, showing Henry the Navigator at the prow holding a small caravel, as well as many relevant heroes of Portuguese history (Vasco da Gama, Pedro Álvares Cabral - discoverer of Brazil - Fernão Magalhães - who crossed the Pacific in1520 -, the writer Camões and many others).

Seen from the huge mariners compass this monument fascinates visitors with its impressiveness and its 50 metres height. It is visited by millions of people each year. Cut into the paving stone, the compass (see panel above) was a present from the Republic of South Africa in 1960 and it's best seen from the top of the Monument to the Discoveries, that you can access by elevator located inside the building. The central map, depicting galleons and mermaids, shows the routes of the discoverers in the 15th and 16th centuries.

It is located in Belém, on the bank of the River Tagus, in an unique monumental area and looks particularly dramatic in the light of the late afternoon sun.
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