Portugal’s town of Tomar offers the visitor more than just the traditional Castles and historic portuguese buildings. To visit Tomar is to have a true “templar experience”, as it was here that the powerful Order of Christ and the Templar Knights established its HQ. Acquaint yourself with our suggestion of a tour of the main points of interest:
Convento de Cristo (Convent of Christ)
The Convent of Christ is a set of historic buildings comprised of the Medieval Castle, the Templar Ambulatory, the 14th century cloisters, the “Manuelina” (Portuguese late Gothic period) Church and the Renascence Convent, and it is one of the country’s foremost important monuments, having been heralded to Unesco World Heritage Site status in 1983.
Built by Templar Master Dom Gualdim Pais, it is said that it was also the place where Prince Henry the Navigator planned manny of the Portuguese voyages of discovery troughout the world.
St. John Baptist Church
Manueline monument in the heart of the city, with characteristic facade and entrance, renewed several times to date. It is located in Praça da República, where visitors also find several cafes and restaurants with excellent national and international cuisine.
Saint Mary of the Olivais Church
A point of reunion for great Meisters of the Christ Order, it dates from the 12th Century.
It was in the 1st of March 1160 that Templar Master Dom Gualdim Pais founded the City of Tomar setting the first stone of the Castle. The Castle is a display of Military architecture and how the powerful Order defended themselves. There is a thick outer wall that protects the inner citadel. The central towers were, at the time, the head offices, as well as the quarters of the region’s most powerful knights.
Sanctuary of Fátima
According to tradition it was built as appointed to the witnesses of the Marian apparitions, firstly alluded to on the 13th of August of 1917, and then expressly indicated on a later apparition of the 13th of October of the same year. A Chapel was erected on 1919 on the site of the sightings, having been later expanded into a Sanctuary due to flow of pilgrims.
The Sanctuary of Fátima is a pilgrimage destination that keeps constantly presenting the Marian sighting by the three sheppards and that has at its core the welcoming of pilgrims.
Ranked as a National Sanctury by the Sé Apostólica, it stands at 130km (80 miles) from Lisbon, 200km (120 miles) from Oporto and 85 km (50 miles) from Coimbra.
Castelo de Bode Dam
Located in Tomar, the Dam’s reservoir bathes many lands that were once under the Templar Order and their mystique can still be felt by visitors. The most notorious of these lands is Dornes, with its namesake peninsula. The Templar Order presence can also be seen on the pentagonal bell tower of Dornes, that still exists almost intact to this day.
Águas Livres Aqueduct
One of the most important feats of engineering of the 18th Century it once supplied water to the greater Lisbon.
Although its more visible stretch is over the Alcântara Valley, it spans over 14km (8miles) from its spring in Caneças up to Mãe d’Água das Amoreiras. Along with other secondary aqueducts it formed a network of over 59km (36 miles) that supplied the city.
Built under the reign of John V, the Alcântara Valley stretch is made up of 35 arches, which include the largest ogival stone arch of the world spanning 65 meters wide and 32 meters tall.
The aqueduct was decommissioned in 1973 and opened to visitors in 1986. Currently part of the Water Museum, visits to its innards can be scheduled.
Tomar’s Synagogue is the only example of proto-renascence building in Portugal.
Built in the 15th century upon the arrival and settlement of the jewish community in town it also spawned the jewish quarter, the “Judearia”. The Synagogue was closed in 1496, when the Jews were expelled from the country, and was then converted into a prison. In the 17th century it was referred to as Saint Bartholomew’s Chappel; in the 19th century it was a hay storage, a barn and grocery and pantry unit.