September 13, 2014

0103, 0377, 1220 PORTUGAL (Lisbon) - Monastery of the Hieronymites and Tower of Belém in Lisbon (UNESCO WHS)

0103 Monastery of the Hieronymites in Lisbon

Posted on 06.11.2012, 21.01.2012, 13.09.2014
In the 15th and 16th centuries, as the result of pioneering the Age of Discovery, Portugal established a global empire (the first in history), becoming the world's major economic, political and military power. Most of the Portuguese expeditions left from Lisbon, which has become one of the richest cities in Europe. Standing at the entrance to its harbour, the Hieronymites Monastery, exemplifies Portuguese art at its best, and the nearby Belém Tower, is a reminder of the great maritime discoveries that laid the foundations of the modern world. Both constructions were erected at the peak of Portugal's territorial expansion and of its economic and cultural flowering.

0377 Tower of Belém in Lisbon (1)

In 1496, Manuel I the Fortunate requested to the Holy See a authorisation to build a large monastery on the banks of the Tagus, just outside Lisbon, but the construction of the Hieronymites Monastery (or Jerónimos Monastery) began only in 1501, being completed 100 years later. Huge amounts of money was spend for this project, more accurate a sizeable part of Vintena da Pimenta, a 5% levy on income from trade with Africa and the Orient, or the equivalent of 70 kg of gold per year. Replacing a church dedicated to Santa Maria de Belém, it has a façade that extends for more than 300m, and is one of the most prominent monuments of the Manueline-style architecture.

1220 Tower of Belém in Lisbon (2)

One of the main king's reasons for building this monastery was his desire to have a pantheon for the Avis-Beja dynasty, of which he was the first monarch. Manuel chose the Order of St. Jerome, or Hieronymites, to occupy the monastery. Their role, amongst other things, was to pray for the soul of the monarch and provide spiritual assistance to the seafarers and navigators who departed from the Restelo shorefront to discover new worlds. This religious community occupied the monastic spaces until 1833, when religious orders were dissolved in Portugal and the monastery was vacated.

The Belém Tower, now on the shore of the Tagus, originally was built on an island closely located to the right bank of the river, opposite the Restelo beach. Erected to honor Lisbon’s patron St Vincent, it was meant to be part of the defensive system for the estuary of the Tagus River, providing crossfire with the fortress of São Sebastião da Caparica on the south bank, but also as a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon. Its construction started in 1514, under the orders of the architect Francisco de Arruda. Functional as it was, the tower was also a work of art built by a nation whose self-respect required that even a fortress should be magnificent.

It is a marvelous example of the Manueline style, here represented by the stone rope that encircles the tower, by the heraldic motifs and by its most famous rhinoceros, the first stone representation of this animal made in Europe, that inspired Dürer’s rhinoceros; nevertheless, Belém Tower shows also elements of other architectural styles, mainly due to the influence of the Morocco fortifications where Francisco de Arruda worked. It consists of a quadrangular tower, inspired by the medieval castles, and a polygonal bastion, designed to support heavy artillery.

The monument is mostly decorated on the south side, characterized by the loggia with its impressively decorated balustrade. Above the loggia are the shield of D. Manuel I and the armillary spheres. On the first floor interior is the Sala do Governador (Governors Hall), and a small door provides access via a spiral staircase to the subsequent floors. On the second floor, the Sala dos Reis (King's Hall) opens to the loggia (to overlook the river), while a small corner fireplace extends from this floor to the third floor fireplace in the Sala das Audiências (Audience Hall).

The fourth floor chapel is covered in a vaulted rib ceiling with niches emblematic of the Manueline style, supported by carved corbels. It was used as a fortress until 1580 when Portugal lost its independence and was ruled by Spanish kings for 40 years. Thereafter it was mainly used as a political prison, even when Portugal recovered its independence, as King Miguel I (1828–1834) imprisoned there his liberal opponents. Belém Tower was also used as a customs house and even as a lighthouse.

About the stamps
On the postcard 0103
The stamp is part of the series Patrimonio Baleeiro (Whaling Heritage), designed by Francisco Galamba, and issued on August 24, 2011. The series has 4 stamps, with the face values 0,32, 0,68 (It's on the postcard 0103), 0,80, and 2,00 EUR.

On the postcard 0377
The stamp is part of a very special set (both in terms of theme as well as of the approach and the graphics), dedicated to celebrating the 100th anniversary of the abolition of monarchy and establishment of republic in Portugal. História das Liberdades (History of Freedom), designed by Luiz Duran and issued on October 2, 2010, was launched at World Philatelic Exhibition Portugal 2010 and contains 6 stamps:

Na República Portuguesa cada um é senhor de conduzir o seu destino, o que merece ser festejado / In the Portuguese Republic each is master of his destiny, which deserves to be celebrated (0,32 EUR)
Em 1910 notícia da implantação da República em Portugal foi acolhida com manifestações de entusiasmo popular / In 1910 the news of the establishment of the Republic in Portugal was welcomed with demonstrations of popular enthusiasm (0,32 EUR)
Em 1910 o Partido Repúblicano Portugues entende que a mudanca de regime so seria possive atraves da lota armada / In 1910 the Portuguese Republican Party believes that regime change would be possible only through the armed action (0,47 EUR)
Em 1789 a Revolução Francesa conduz à implantação da República e à formacao dos partidos republicanos europeus / In 1789 the French Revolution led to the establishment of the Republic and the formation of the European republican parties (0,68 EUR) - It's on the postcard 0377
O primeiro abalo politico da se ero 1776. Os Colones Americanos revoltam se declarare a Indepencia e escolhem um Governo Democratico para a seu pais / The first political shock was in 1776. The American colonists revolted and declared the indepence and choose a democratic government for his country (0,80 EUR)
Na Idade media Clero, Nobreza e Povo tinham direitos e deveres diferentes. As decisões do Rei eram acatadas sem contestação / In the Middle Ages, clergy, the nobility and the people had different rights and duties. The decisions of the King were obeyed without question  (1,00 EUR)

On the postcard 1220
The stamp is part of the series Extreme Sports, designed by João Machado:
• surfing (0.40 EUR)
• mountain biking (0.50 EUR)
• skateboarding (0.70 EUR)

canoeing (0.80 EUR)
paragliding (1.70 EUR)

• surfing (N20g)
• mountain biking (A20g)
• skateboarding (E20g) - It's on the postcard 1220

• kitesurf (N20g)
• climbing (A20g)
• rafting (E20g) - It's on the postcard 2068

• stand up paddle (N20g)
• skydive (A20g)
• ski (E20g) - It's on the postcard 2848

Jerónimos Monastery - Wikipedia
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos - official site
Belém Tower - Wikipedia

Sender 0103: Paulo Baptista (direct swap)
Sent from Lisbon (Lisbon / Portugal), on 28.01.2012
Sender 0377: Paulo Baptista (direct swap)
Sent from Lisbon (Lisbon / Portugal), on 09.01.2012
Sender 1220: Eric
Sent from ??? (??? / Portugal), on 29.08.2014
Photo: Antonio Henriques

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