Walking through the ancient streets of Tomar or the leafy park by the river, the Templars’ Castle always remains in sight.
Gualdim Pais, Master of the Order of the Temple in Portugal, chose the hill on which to build the fortress in 1160. It was around this time that work began on the Charola or Rotunda (octagonal church,) modelled on the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The convent buildings grew up around it when the Order of the Temple was transferred to the Order of the Knights of Christ, which took over all its property. At the same point in history, Prince Henry the Navigator was to lead the Portuguese nation to the maritime Discoveries, taking the Templar Cross to the seven corners of the world.
In the reign of King Manuel I, a new series of art inspired by the sea was created at the monument. The Templars’ Church is decorated with paintings and sculptures of exceptional quality. The west façade of the chapter house contains an amazing window, depicting waves, ropes, fantastic animals, angels, kings, armillary spheres and the Cross of the Order of Christ, all carved in stone.
Take your time to look around this grand convent and discover its fascinating history.