The Tower of Saint Vincent served as a point of embarkation and disembarkation for Portuguese explorers and as a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon.
The Tower is a 16th-century fortification and was built during the height of the Portuguese Renaissance, and is a prominent example of the Portuguese Manueline style, but it also incorporates hints of other architectural styles. The structure was built from lioz limestone and is composed of a bastion and a 30 meters four-storey tower.
The Belém Tower is situated on the northern bank of the Tagus River. Although various guides have claimed that the tower was built in the middle of the Tagus, and now sits near the shore after the 1755 earthquake redirected the river, they are incorrect.
The Portuguese Ministry of Culture and the Institute of Architectural Heritage indicate that the tower was constructed on a small island near the bank of the Tagus, opposite the shore of Restelo. As development extended the shoreline progressively, more and more of the northern bank crept southwards into the Tagus, the tower becoming integrated into the riverbank over time.