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Padrão dos Descobrimentos

Monument to the Discoveries

Leopoldo de Almeida

Lisboa /  Padrão dos Descobrimentos   Lisboa /  Padrão dos Descobrimentos


Monument for the Portuguese Age of Discovery (or Age of Exploration) during the 15th and 16th centuries. It is located along the river Tagus where ships departed to explore and trade with India and Orient.

The monument was conceived in 1939 by Portuguese architect José Ângelo Cottinelli Telmo, and sculptor Leopoldo de Almeida, as a temporary beacon during the Portuguese World Fair opening in June 1940. The monument represented a romanticized idealization of the Portuguese exploration that was typical of the Estado Novo regime of António de Oliveira Salazar. It was originally constructed as a temporary construction, located in the Praça do Império as part of an urban renewal project favoured by minister Duarte Pacheco, but with the resistance of Cottinelli Telmo. Yet, by June 1943, the original structure was demolished after the exposition as there was no concrete formalization of the project.

On 3 February 1958 the government, through the Ministry of Public Works, the Overseas Provinces and the Municipal Chamber of Lisbon, promoted the intent to construct a permanent Monument to the Discoveries. Between November 1958 and January 1960, the new monument was constructed in cement and rose-tinted stone (from Leiria), and the statues sculpted from limestone excavated from the region of Sintra. The new project was enlarged from the original 1940 model as part of the commemorations to celebrate the fifth centennial of the death of Infante Henry the Navigator. It was inaugurated on 9 August 1960, yet it was not completely finished until 10 October 1960.

Ostensibly a 52-metre-high (171 ft) slab standing vertically along the bank of the Tagus, the design takes the form of the prow of a caravel (ship used in the early Portuguese exploration). On either side of the slab are ramps that join at the river's edge, with the figure of Henry the Navigator on its edge. On either side of the Infante, along the ramp, are 16 figures (33 in total) representing figures from the Portuguese Age of Discovery. Each idealized figure is designed to show movement towards the front (the unknown sea), projecting a direct or indirect synthesis of their participation in the events after Henry.


Lisboa - Padrão dos Descobrimentos Lisboa - Padrão dos Descobrimentos
Henry the Navigator, holding a model of a carrack and a map showing the coast of West Africa to the Gulf of Guinea and the islands of Madeira, the Azores and Cape Verde.

  1. Henry the Navigator
On either side of the ramps of the monument are a total of 32 figures (31 men and 1 woman) from the history of the Discoveries:

Eastern profile

Lisboa - Padrão dos Descobrimentos

Lisboa - Padrão dos Descobrimentos
2. D. Afonso V
Lisboa - Padrão dos Descobrimentos
3. Vasco da Gama
Lisboa - Padrão dos Descobrimentos
3. Vasco da Gama
4. Afonso Gonçalves Baldaia (only the head visible)
5. Pedro Álvares Cabral
6. Fernão de Magalhães
Lisboa - Padrão dos Descobrimentos
6. Fernão de Magalhães
7. Nicolau Coelho with a cross flag
8. Gaspar Corte-Real
Lisboa - Padrão dos Descobrimentos
9. Martim Afonso de Sousa with the Portuguese flag
10. João de Barros holding a scroll with the text "Décadas da Ásia".
Lisboa - Padrão dos Descobrimentos
11. Estêvão da Gama, 12. Bartolomeu Dias
Lisboa - Padrão dos Descobrimentos
12. Bartolomeu Dias
13. Diogo Cão
14. António de Abreu
together raising a padrão (marker)
Lisboa - Padrão dos Descobrimentos
15. Afonso de Albuquerque
16. São Francisco Xavier
17. Cristóvão da Gama

  1. D. Afonso V / Afonso V of Portugal (Sintra 1432 - Lisboa 1481), King of Portugal and the Algarves, 1438-1481, nephew of Henry the Navigator (Wikipedia).
  2. Vasco da Gama (Sines 1460 or '9 - Cochim, India 1524), Portuguese explorer, commander of the first ships to sail directly from Europe to India (Wikipedia).
  3. Afonso Gonçalves Baldaia (Porto c. 1415 - Praia da Vitória, Terceira 1481), Portuguese nautical explorer, who explored much of the coast of Western Sahara (1435-1436) and would later become one of the first colonists of Ter (Wikipeceira Island in the Azoresdia).
  4. Pedro Álvares Cabral (Belmonte c. 1467/68 - Santarém c. 1520), Portuguese nobleman, military commander, navigator and explorer regarded as the discoverer of Brazil (Wikipedia).
  5. Fernão de Magalhães / Ferdinand Magellan (Sabrosa c. 1480 - Mactan, Philippines 1521), Portuguese explorer who organised the Spanish expedition to the East Indies from 1519 to 1522, resulting in the first circumnavigation of the Earth (Wikipedia).
  6. Nicolau Coelho (Felgueiras c. 1460 - off the coast of Mozambique 1504), Portuguese navigator; participated in the discovery of the route to India by Vasco da Gama where he commanded Berrio, the first caravel to return; was captain of a ship in the fleet headed by Pedro Álvares Cabral who landed in Brazil (Wikipedia).
  7. Gaspar Corte Real (Gaspar 1450 - Atlantic Ocean 1501), Portuguese explorer, participated with his father and brother in various exploratory voyages in the Northern Atlantic (Greenland and probably Newfoundland) (Wikipedia).
  8. Martim Afonso de Sousa (Vila Viçaso c. 1500 - Lisboa 1564), Portuguese explorer and colonial administrator; commander of the first official Portuguese expedition into mainland of the colony of Brazil (Wikipedia).
  9. João de Barros(Viseu c. 1496 - Pombal 1570), one of the first great Portuguese historians (Wikipedia).
  10. Estêvão da Gama (ca. 1505 - 1576), Portuguese governor of Portuguese Gold Coast (1529-15??) and Portuguese India (1540-1542). Son of Vasco da Gama (Wikipedia).
  11. Bartolomeu Dias (Algarve c. 1450 - Cape of Good Hope 1500), Portuguese explorer, first to cross over the Cape of Good Hope (1488) (Wikipedia).
  12. Diogo Cão (Vila Real c. 1440 - c. 1486), Portuguese explorer and one of the most notable navigators of the Age of Discovery. He made two voyages sailing along the west coast of Africa in the 1480s, exploring the Congo River and the coasts of the present-day Angola and Namibia (Wikipedia).
  13. António de Abreu (Madeira c. 1480 - Azores c. 1514), Portuguese explorer, participated under the command of Afonso de Albuquerque in the conquest of Ormus in 1507 and Malacca in 1511 (Wikipedia).
  14. Afonso de Albuquerque (Alhandra c. 1453 - Goa, India 1515), Portuguese general, 'great conqueror', statesman, and empire builder; second viceroy of Portuguese India (Wikipedia).
  15. São Francisco Xavier / Saint Francis Xavier (Javier, Navarra 1506 - São João Island, China, 1552), pioneering Roman Catholic missionary, co-founder of the Society of Jesus (Wikipedia).
  16. Cristóvão da Gama (Évora c. 1516 - Wofla, Adal Sultanate 1542), Portuguese military commander who led a Portuguese army of 400 musketeers on a crusade in Ethiopia and Somalia. Son of Vasco da Gama (Wikipedia).

Western profile

Lisboa - Padrão dos Descobrimentos

Lisboa - Padrão dos Descobrimentos
18. Infante D. Fernando
Lisboa - Padrão dos Descobrimentos
21. Gil Eanes with an astrolabe
20. Pêro de Alenquer (only the head visible)
19. João Gonçalves Zarco
Lisboa - Padrão dos Descobrimentos
24. Jácome de Maiorca with a quadrant
23. Pêro de Escobar
22. Pedro Nunes with an armillary sphere and a pair of compasses
Lisboa - Padrão dos Descobrimentos
27. Nuno Gonçalves
26. Gomes Eanes de Zurara with a scroll with the titles of his chronicles
25. Pêro da Covilhã with a cross flag,
Lisboa - Padrão dos Descobrimentos
28. Luís Vaz de Camões with a scroll with a quotation of his work
27. Nuno Gonçalves with a painter's palette
Lisboa - Padrão dos Descobrimentos
30. Frei Gonçalo de Carvalho
29. Frei Henrique de Coimbra
Lisboa - Padrão dos Descobrimentos
31. Fernão Mendes Pinto
Lisboa - Padrão dos Descobrimentos
33. Infante D. Pedro
32. D. Filipa de Lencastre

  1. Fernando, o Infante Santo / Ferdinand the Holy Prince (Santarém 1402 - Fez, Morocco, 1443), brother of Henry the Navigator (Wikipedia).
  2. João Gonçalves Zarco (c. 1390 - Funchal 1471), Portuguese explorer who established settlements and recognition of the Madeira Islands, and was appointed first captain of Funchal by Henry the Navigator (Wikipedia).
  3. Pêro de Alenquer, 15th-century Portuguese explorer of the African coast (Wikipedia).
  4. Gil Eanes (Lagos 1395 - after 1435), Portuguese navigator and explorer; first person to sail beyond Cape Bojador (1434) (Wikipedia).
  5. Pedro Nunes (Alcácer do Sal 1502 - Coimbra 1578), Portuguese mathematician and cosmographer (Wikipedia).
  6. Pêro de Escobar, 15th-century Portuguese navigator who discovered São Tomé, Annobon and Príncipe islands (1471-72) (Wikipedia).
  7. Jácome de Maiorca, Majorcan cartographer induced by Prince Henry the Navigator to move to Portugal to train Portuguese map-makers in his school at Sagres. Long was believed he was identical with Jehudà Cresques (Wikipedia).
  8. Pêro da Covilhã (Covilhã 1450? - Ethiopia 1530?), Portuguese diplomat and explorer (Wikipedia).
  9. Gomes Eanes de Zurara (c. 1410 - Lisboa 1474), Portuguese chronicler of the Age of Discovery (Wikipedia)..
  10. Nuno Gonçalves (c. 1420 - c. 1490), Portuguese court painter for King Afonso V of Portugal (Wikipedia).
  11. Luís Vaz de Camões (c. 1524-25 - Lisboa 1580), Portugal's and the Portuguese language's greatest poet, who celebrated the navigations in the epic Lusiads) (Wikipedia).
  12. Frei Henrique de Coimbra, O.F.M. (Coimbra c. 1465 - Olivença 1532), Franciscan missionary in India, Africa and Brazil (Wikipedia).
  13. Frei Gonçalo de Carvalho, O.P., 15th century Dominican missionary in India and Congo (Wikipedia).
  14. Fernão Mendes Pinto (Montemor-o-Velho 1509 - Almada 1583), Portuguese explorer and writer. His voyages are recorded in Pilgrimage (Portuguese: Peregrinação) (1614) (Wikipedia).
  15. D. Filipa de Lencastre / Queen Philippa of Lancaster (Leicester Castle 1360 - Sacavem 1450), daughter of John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, and Blanche of Lancaster, and a sister of King Henry IV of England; she married in 1387 with King John I of Portugal, mother or Henry the Navigator (Wikipedia).
  16. Infante D. Pedro Duque de Coimbra / Peter, Duke of Coimbra (Lisboa 1392 - Alverca 1449), brother or Henry the Navigator (Wikipedia).

On the square in front of the monument is the 50-metre-diameter (160 ft) Rosa-dos-Ventos (compass rose), executed using different types of limestone, including lioz, a rare type of beige limestone found only around Lisbon, more specifically in Sintra. The compass rose includes a world map that is 14 metres wide, showing the routes of Portuguese carracks and caravels during the Age of Discovery. Designed by the architect Cristino da Silva and a gift of the Republic of South Africa.

Lisboa - Padrão dos Descobrimentos Lisboa - Padrão dos Descobrimentos


On the northern façade flanking the staircase are two inscriptions in metal:


1460 - 1960

To Prince Henry and the
Portuguese that discovered
the roads of the sea

On the Fifth centenary
of Prince Henry


arq. cottinelli telmo
esc. leopoldo de almeida

M.O.P. 1960

Lisboa - Padrão dos Descobrimentos


Sources & Information


  • Camões, Luís Vaz de
  • Cão, Diogo
  • Carvalho, Gonçalo de
  • Coelho, Nicolau
  • Coimbra, Henrique de
  • Corte Real, Gaspar
  • Cosmographer
  • Covilhã, Pêro da
  • Dias, Bartolomeu
  • Eanes de Zurara, Gomes
  • Eanes, Gil
  • Escobar, Pêro de
  • Explorer
  • Ferdinand (Infante of Portugal)
  • Francis Xavier, St.
  • Gama, Cristóvão da
  • Gama, Estêvão da
  • Gama, Vasco da
  • Gonçalves, Nuno
  • Henry the Navigator, Prince
  • Historian
  • Jácome de Maiorca
  • Magalhães, Fernão de
  • Mathematician
  • Monarch
  • Navigator
  • Nunes, Pedro
  • Painter
  • Pedro Duque de Coimbra (Infante of Portugal)
  • Philippa of Lancaster
  • Pinto, Fernão Mendes
  • Politician/Statesman
  • Sousa, Martim Afonso de
  • World map
  • Writer / poet
  • Zarco, João Gonçalves
  • Locatie (N 38°41'36" - W 9°12'20") (Satellite view: Google Maps)

    Item Code: ptli055; Photograph: 30 August 2017
    Of each statue we made photos from various angles and also detail photos of the various texts.
    If you want to use photos, please contact us via the contact form (in Dutch, English or German).
    © Website and photos: René & Peter van der Krogt

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