Vasco da Gama Tower
More than two decades after its construction, the Vasco da Gama Tower remains the tallest building in Portugal at 145 meters/575ft high.
Built for Expo 98, the last great world exhibition of the 20th century, the Tower housed the European Union Pavilion on the lower floors. At the top, there was a panoramic restaurant and a viewpoint, both meant to be luxurious.
However, the years of life of this impressive construction within the Expo 98 site, now known as Parque das Nações, were few. The restaurant remained until 2001, but it was only in 2012 that the tower returned to its full glory when the SANA group opened MYRIAD by SANA Hotels, a five-star hotel.
The tower, designed by the architects Leonor Janeiro and Nick Jacobs, remained virtually intact, with only an annex structure being demolished to make way for the hotel, in a project signed by the architect Nuno Leónidas.
Looking at the Vasco da Gama Tower today, one would not even guess that the hotel was not built with it, such is the harmony between the two structures. The imaginary with which it was created has not changed either: it still represents a 15th-century caravel. Or rather, the caravel with which Vasco da Gama sailed out to sea in search of the maritime route to India – after all, Expo 98 aimed to celebrate the 500th anniversary of this voyage.
Can’t you see the ship? Well, try to imagine the tower as the mast and the metal structure as the sail. At the top, the crow’s nest from where sailors spotted land. Although the viewpoint is now closed by a transparent dome, when the Vasco da Gama Tower was inaugurated, the viewpoint was open-air, consistent with the crow’s nest.
From its 145 meters high, however, the view is quite different from that of the sailors, but still 360 degrees. On one side, the Tagus river stretches as far as the eye can see, the Vasco da Gama Bridge and its immensity, and the south side; on the other, Parque das Nações in detail, Lisbon and its surroundings.
Opening Expo 98
Opening MYRIAD by SANA Hotels
Opening BABYLON 360º
If we consider that the viewpoint was only operational for a short time, it is not an exaggeration to say that only a few have had the privilege of going up to the tallest building in Portugal to this day. And it was not for lack of trying, as the people who work at this hotel can tell you of how many times they had to deny visits to the top as they were not allowed. Guests, passers-by or residents, there is no one in recent years who has not entered the MYRIAD by SANA Hotels to find out if the ascent was possible.
Fortunately, the three panoramic elevators are back in operation. First, in 2018, with FIFTY SECONDS Martín Berasategui, the restaurant that brought the Spanish chef with the most Michelin stars to Portugal, and now with VASCO DA GAMA TOWER BABYLON 360°, a viewpoint that is also a bar, just like in several cities around the world. The former viewpoint is still a place to see the view, but also to simply relax, drink original cocktails, and to return.