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Timeline

1515 - Manuel I commissions construction of the Tower of Belém on a site on which João II had already intended to build a fort to defend the port of Lisbon, under plans drawn up by Garcia de Resende.
1516 - Francisco de Arruda is referenced as the master builder of the Belém bulwark.
1521 - Gaspar de Paiva is officially appointed first Governor of the Tower.
1580 - The Tower serves as a fortress up to this date. After a battle lasting a few hours, the Tower is surrendered to the Duke of Alba, whose forces represent Spanish control. The dungeons now become a State prison. Around this time the Tower is also extended to house more soldiers, leading to important alterations in the upper part of the bulwark.
1589 - Philip II of Spain (Philip I of Portugal) commissions from the Italian engineer Father Giovanni Vicenzo Casale a design for a fortress to complete the Tagus defence system. The "Philippine Baracks" are built, a simple parallelepipedic structure on the bulwark next to the Tower's south façade.
1640 - The dungeons in the bulwark continue to serve as a political prison for prominent prisoners of the State.
1780 - During the reign of Maria I, General Guilherme de Valleré builds the Bom Sucesso Fort.
1782 - The artillery battery in the Bom Sucesso Fort is built, connecting the latter to the Tower's casemated bulwark through a wall lined with artillery.
1808/14 - During the Napoleonic invasion the Tower undergoes alterations to house diverse military installations.
1845 - The Tower is restored under Maria II following protests by Almeida Garrett and thanks to the efforts of the Duke of Terceira, then Minister of War. The restoration works were overseen by the military engineer António de Azevedo e Cunha. New sculptural elements, such as the niche with an image of Our Lady of the Grapes, are added to the original structure.
1865 - Installation of a beacon at the southern end of the bulwark.
1867 - Installation of a gas factory near the Tower, leading to vociferous protests.
1940 - The Tower is handed over to the Ministry of Finance. The "Philippine Barracks" are demolished and the interior cloister is built and the merlons bearing shields, ribbed cupolas on the bartizans and the wall protecting the entrance are added, in addition to other work carried out. Under Salazar alterations to the Tagus banks were made, affecting the area around the Tower of Belém.
1983 - Conversion works carried out for the 17th Exhibition of Art, Science and Culture. An acrylic cupola is placed over the cloister and an artificial lake is created around the Tower so that it is always surrounded by water.

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