The oldest building in this monastic complex, the Charola or Rotunda, dates back to the end of the 12th Century. It is Syrian in origin, but over time has been subject to various alterations, culminating in the important Manueline work that has earned it UNESCO World Heritage status.
In the reign of King Dom Manuel I, the Charola was adapted to form the chancel of the church. It was opened on one side to form the magnificent Renaissance doorway in which the enthronement of the Virgin Mary is depicted.But the real gem for all those who visit the Convento de Cristo is the famous Manueline window of the Chapter House.
The enclosure of the complex includes a woodland park known as the Mata Nacional dos Sete Montes.
It’s a fine example of a late Romantic garden, which combines open areas with dense shading and winding paths. The woodland also contains some 17th Century architectural remains and a modern keep-fit course.
Don’t leave Tomar without visiting the Templars’ Castle; it was the headquarters of the Military Order of the Temple and a fine example of 12th Century military architecture.
Besides having witnessed some of the battles of the Christian Reconquest, Tomar still preserves an interesting Jewish connection, at the synagogue of Tomar. Nowadays, it serves as the headquarters of the Abraão Zacuto Portuguese-Jewish Museum.