Tomar

Tomar

The history of Tomar is closely connected with the Knights Templars, who were given the town for their part in Dom Afonso Henriques' campaigns against the moors in 1159. The influence of the Templars and their successors upon Tomar is evident all over the old town.

The Templar Order suffered brutal suppression across Europe in the early 14th century. In Portugal, the order transformed into the Order of Christ on the initiative of King Dom Dinis. The great wealth they had inherited from the Templars played an essential role during Portugal's age of discovery. Tomar is situated on the Nabao river, a tributary of the Tejo (Tagus) river, with the old town occupying the west bank.

TOMAR OLD TOWN

Church of São João Baptista

At the heart of the old town is the delightful Praça da República square, an idyllic spot for lunch or a coffee whilst taking in the sights. The square is paved with diamond-patterned tiling and overlooked by a statue of the town's founder, Gualdim Pais. Here are some impressive 17th Century buildings, such as the old town hall, with its charismatic loggia of three arches.

Church of São João Baptista

Opposite Tomars' old town hall on the Praça do República is the recently restored Church of São João Baptista (John the Baptist). It has origins from the 12th century and was a meeting place for the Knights Templar. Most of the present construction was re-built in the 15th century, under the sponsorship of Dom Manuel and completed in 1510. The Manueline ornament on the north door sports boars, dogs and wild asses and the western entrance is more prosaic. The adjoining bell tower has a distinct octangular profile on a square base. Inside, hanging on the side aisles are six panels painted by Gregório Lopes, one of 16th-century Portugal's finest artists. One panel is a representation of The Last Supper.

CONVENTO DE CRISTO

The main attraction of Tomar stands on a wooded hill overlooking Tomar and is one of Portugal's five most significant buildings. Standing next to the entrance to the convent is the mystical 12th Century Templar Castle its crenellations guard the route between Santarém and Coimbra. Gualdim Pais, Master of the Knights Templar, began construction of the castle on 1 March 1160. Its irregular walls extended throughout time to encompass the Charola or Round Church, the living quarters for the Knights Templar to the north and the parade ground or interior courtyard and the area once occupied by the residents of the fortified town to the south.

The Charola

One of the outstanding examples of Templar architecture, dating from the 12th and 13th centuries. Its distinctive polygonal structure has eight sides on the inside becoming sixteen on the exterior. It was inspired by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. As Master of the Order of Christ, the order that replaced the Templars, Henry the Navigator overlooked the first alterations of the building and built the chapel on the east wing of the Charola and dedicated it to St. Thomas á Becket. King Manuel, I made further additions between 1495 and 1521 when the external wall was opened on the east side, resulting in the large triumphal arch which links the Charola to the Manueline church.

Convento de Cristo
Chapterhouse Window

The Chapter House Window is an impressive example of Manueline architecture. Designed by Diogo de Arruda was added to the west façade of the Manueline church between 1510 and 1513. Known in Portuguese as Janela do Capítulo, it is overlaid totally by maritime imagery. Found within the elaborate design are motifs representing sea shells, coral, interwinding ropes and the royal coat of arms. One has a feeling there's a secret message encoded within the stonework.

The Cloisters

The original Cloister Principal was built between 1530-1533 by João de Castilho. It was partially rebuilt during the reign of João III and completed in 1562. The Italian architect Filipe Terzi completed the ceiling on the Ceras terrace and is considered an opus magnum of the Renaissance.

High Season Daily: 09h00 - 18h30 | Low Season Daily: 09h00 - 17h00
Adult: €6.00, OAP & concessionary: €3.00, Child under 14: FREE
Convento de Cristo, Igreja do Castelo Templário 2300-000. Tomar, Portugal.
39º 36' 12.6" N | 08º 25' 08.5" W
+351 249 315 089 | convento.cristo@igespar.pt |  Website

AMENITIES

There is a cafeteria on site and also there's a café next to the car park close to the main entrance.

There are toilets in the convent in various places.

There is adequate parking at the front entrance to the convent.

Persons with impaired mobility should use the north entrance of the convent, which gives access to the ground floor where there are routes with access ramps for wheelchair users and a service elevator for reaching the first floor. For the blind and visually impaired there is a visit supported by audio-guides and a route where they can feel the shapes and textures of the architecture.

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Templars in Portugal

TEMPLAR KNIGHTS & THE ORDER OF CHRIST

The Order of the Knights Templar was founded around 1118 AD during the first crusade to protect the pilgrim routes to Jerusalem under the direct authority of the Pope. The Templars first castle in Portugal was built at Soure, near Coimbra, in 1128. The early Templar castles played an essential role in helping Dom Alphonso Henriques' struggle against the moors and establishing Portugal as an autonomous state. As a reward, they were offered lands at Santarém only to be rejected by the Grand Master Dom Gualdim Pais in favour of land at Tomar. The Templar's first castle in Tomar on the banks of the river Nabão was abandoned in favour of a more defensible location overlooking the town. Two years after the construction of the castle in 1160, the church, the Charola, was built within the fortifications.

Throughout Europe, the Templars gained lands in reward for services in the Holy land. The Order amounted immense wealth and influence, resulting in attracting distrust and jealousy. The knights experienced persecution by the King of France and eventual disbandment by Pope Clement in 1312. Accused of blasphemy and sodomy, the Grand Master of the Templars in Paris was arrested in 1307. It's rumoured he was able to smuggle part of the Orders great treasure to Portugal. King Dinis I refused to pursue and trial the Templar Knights and created the Order of Christ in 1317, giving refuge from the mass slaughter of the Knights throughout all the other sovereign states under the Catholic Church influence. King Dinis negotiated with Pope Clement's successor John XXII for the new order's recognition and right to inherit the Templar assets and property.

Templars in Portugal

TOMAR'S OLD SYNAGOGUE

Old Synagogue

The Templars also sought wisdom from Judaism. After the Jews were expelled from Spain, they founded a colony in Tomar. They established the synagogue of Tomar, one of Portugal's oldest. Located in the heart of old Tomar, in Rua Dr Joaquim Jacinto, it was built between 1430 to 1460 by Dom Henrique. Today the building houses the Abraão Zacuto Luso-Hebrew Museum.

Named after Abraham Zacuto (c.1450-c.1522), a mathematician and author of the celebrated Almanach Perpetuum. The book was published in Leiria in 1496 and contained mathematical tables widely used by Portuguese navigators during the early 16th century and beyond. The exhibits include various archaeological findings attesting to the Jewish presence in Portugal during the Middle Ages.

The museum holds a small collection of modern artefacts describing the Jewish way of life and were donated by individuals and Jewish institutions from around the world.

73 Rua Dr. Joaquim Jacinto, 2300, Tomar, Portugal. | 39º 36' 11.6" N | 08º 24' 49.9" W
+351 249 329 823 | turismo@cm-tomar.pt

AQUEDUCT (AQUEDUTO) DOS PEGÕES

Originally the Convent drew it's water from springs and cisterns but in 1593 construction began on the Aqueduto dos Pegões and took eleven years to complete. Filipe Terzi began the work and Pedro Fernandes Torres completed it in 1613. At it's highest point it rises to 30 metres high and four miles in length, it consists of 180 arches and 58 arcs bringing water from springs from the northeast. Where the Pegões valley drops down, it forms two rows of arches, the lower ogival arches supporting the continuous upper row. The Aqueduct has been a national monument since 1910 and can be reached by following the road to Leiria.


The Green Tourist Train

This little road train has become popular since it's launch in 2000. It runs along two routes, one is a tour around town and the other goes up the hill to the Convent of Christ and Pegões Aqueduct. Although the walk up to the Convent of Christ isn't long it is very steep in places and this Tourist Train offers those with mobility issues or those with aching limbs an easier way to ascend the hill. The train leaves from the Rua Marquês de Pombal and Rua Serpa Pinto.

Aqueduct (Aqueduto) dos Pegões

TOP TOURS

Knights Templar Day Tour from Lisbon

Knights Templar Day Tour from Lisbon

Spend a day in the Portuguese villages of Constância and Tomar to discover the history of the Knights Templar. Your journey will begin in Lisbon. A short distance from Tomar is the Almourol Castle. This emblematic monument was, at one time, controlled by the Knights Templar. The Almourol Castle and the city of Tomar are perfect examples to understand the mystery of the Templars, men who were simultaneously Warrior Knights and monks that lived under a rigid military discipline, but at the same time with great rigour in the spiritual life. At the end of the tour, you will be dropped off at one of two locations in central Lisbon, either Restauradores or Marquês de Pombal. Please note, this tour is available from Tuesday to Saturday.

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Tomar and Almourol Castles Day Trip

Tomar and Almourol Castles - 8 Hour Trip

Begin your excursion with pick-up at your Lisbon hotel and board a private, air-conditioned car destined for Tomar, a historic city replete with beautiful testaments to the past. Here, discover the significance of the UNESCO-listed Convent of Christ and delve deeper into the history of the Knights Templar.

See two Templar churches and the Synagogue of Tomar. Then, try some Ginja and go to Constância for lunch. Visit the Almourol Castle and feast your eyes on a fine example of 12th-century military architecture. Your tour concludes with a drop off at your Lisbon hotel.


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Lisbon: Private Knights Templar Tour

Lisbon: Private Knights Templar Tour

You will begin your tour with a visit to the Almourol Castle in the district of Santarem. It is one of the most iconic examples of military architecture at the time of the Christian Reconquest. You will then visit the Santa Maria dos Olivais Church. The church, also known as the Church of Santa Maria do Olival, is located on the left bank of the river Nabao, in the city of Tomar, Portugal. Next up on your tour is the Convent of Christ. In the centre of Tomar, you will be able to visit the oldest Portuguese Synagogue. Its roof is supported by 4 columns representing the mothers of Israel: Sarah, Rachel, Rebecca and Leah, and is linked by 12 arches, symbolising the 12 tribes of Israel. After your tour, you will be returned to Lisbon.

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NATIONAL PARK (MATA NACIONAL) DOS SETE MONTES

National Park (Mata Nacional) dos Sete Montes

Located at the end of the Avinida Dr. Cândido Madureira, one of Tomar's main streets, the Mata Nacional dos Sete Montes park is Tomar's largest. Covering an area of 39 hectares the park incorporates its botanical gardens with many rare flowers and specimens of trees from around the world. The woods include ancient cypress trees, judas trees, oak trees, wild pine trees, stone pines and olive trees. The park also offers a scenic route to the castle and convent complex, to which it's affiliated – which was once used by the Order of Christ for agricultural purposes. Paths lead off to springs, secluded corners and monuments, including a model Romanesque church known as the Charolinha, adding to the charm of the place. The park is free and open during the day.

High Season Daily: 08h30 - 17h00 | Low Season Daily: 09h00 - 17h00 | FREE
Avenida Doutor Candido Madureira, Tomar, 2300-531, Portugal. | 39º 36' 06.7" N | 08º 24' 50.8" W
+351 249 329 82

IGREJA DE SANTA MARIA DO OLIVAL

The Igreja de Santa Maria do Olival was built in 1160 and pre-dates the convent of Christ and castle over-looking Tomar. The church was built over the top of a Benedictine convent part of the Roman settlement called Nabância. The church was deliberately built below ground level and might be symbolic of rebirth ceremonies. The church was commissioned by the regional master of the Order of the Knights Templar in Portugal, Gualdim Pais. Igreja de Santa Maria do Olival served as the Pantheon for the Order of the Knights Templar and is the resting place of Mestre Lourenço Martins, Mestre Dom Gil Martins and Gualdim Pais himself. The site served as the centrepiece of the Templar's influence in Portugal for 400 years who have left their encoded symbols all over the place.

The construction has a stark appearance both inside and outside, which is a typical feature of the religious Orders. The interior feels cavernous with a central nave and two side aisles illuminated by a large rose window in the façade. Olival translates as "olive grove" and is a reference to the Mount of Olives. A small rose window on the eastern wall (facing Jerusalem) incorporates a pentagram, a common Templar emblem. Local myths suggest the church served as an important site for underground Templar initiation rituals and recent nearby construction work and radar surveys confirm the existence of underground tunnels leading to Tomar's castle. The church's rectangular bell tower stands separate from the main edifice in front of the main façade and was constructed during the time of Dom Manuel I whilst doubling up as a watchtower.

Several chapels were added to the Southern side of the church during restoration work in the 16th century. Notable are the polychromed statue of the Virgin Mary and Child (early 16th century) in the main altar and the funerary monument of Diogo Pinheiro, first Bishop of Funchal, a fine Renaissance work dating from 1525, located on the wall of the main chapel.

Tuesday – Sunday: 10h00 – 18h00, Monday & Sunday: CLOSED | FREE
Rua Aquiles de Mota Lima, 2300-255, Tomar, Portugal. | 39º 36' 10.5" N | 08º 23' 59.2" W

Budget Car Hire From Mad About Lisbon

Igreja de Santa Maria do Olival
Igreja de Santa Maria do Oliva - Interiorl
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Suggested Hotels

Hotel Dos Templarios

Hotel Dos Templarios ★ ★ ★ ★

Centrally located close to the old town and shopping areas surrounded by beautiful gardens and the Nabão River. The hotel has five duplex suites and 171 rooms fully equipped with phone, satellite TV, radio, minibar, air conditioning, rooms with balcony and panoramic view. Panoramic restaurant, bar with terrace overlooking the pool, room service, Full Concierge Service, laundry, free private parking, swimming pool, health-club, Tennis, games and conference rooms.

1 Largo Cândido dos Reis, Apartado 91 Tomar, Portugal.
39º 36' 4.6" N | 08º 24' 50.3" W

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Hotel República

Hotel República ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Boasting a bar, shared lounge and views of city, Hotel República is situated in Tomar, less than 0.6 miles from Capela de Nossa Senhora da Conceicao. Among the facilities of this property are a restaurant, a 24-hour front desk and room service, along with free WiFi throughout the property. The hotel has family rooms. The rooms are fitted with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with cable channels, a kettle, a bidet, a hairdryer and a desk. At the hotel rooms are fitted with a wardrobe and a private bathroom. A continental breakfast is available each morning at Hotel República. The accommodation offers 5-star accommodation with a hot tub and terrace.

41 Praça da República, 2300-550 Tomar, Portugal.
39º 36' 51.7" N | 08º 21' 19.4" W

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Casa dos Ofícios Hotel

Casa dos Ofícios Hotel ★ ★ ★ ★

Situated in Tomar, Casa dos Ofícios Hotel features accommodation with a bar, private parking, a shared lounge and a terrace. Among the facilities at this property are a 24-hour front desk and room service, along with free WiFi throughout the property. The hotel has family rooms. All rooms are fitted with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with cable channels, a coffee machine, a shower, a hairdryer and a desk. At the hotel, the rooms have a wardrobe and a private bathroom. Guests at Casa dos Ofícios Hotel can enjoy a continental or a buffet breakfast.

71 Rua Silva Magalhães, 2300-593 Tomar, Portugal.
39º 36' 17.1" N | 08º 24' 53.7" W

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Casas Das Ratas

Casas Das Ratas

A small yet atmospheric restaurant serving traditional Portuguese food with a contemporary twist. The interior has a old-tavern feel about it and the walls are decorated in wine memorabilia. Taking advantage of great local produce the food is prepared with great skill and served by friendly and helpful staff. It's advisable to book, especially during high season, due to it's popularity.

Daily: 10h00 - 15h00/19h00 - 03h00
6 Rua Doutor Joaquim Jacinto , 2300-577 Tomar, Portugal.
39º 36' 13.7" N | 08º 24' 43.6" W
+351 249 315 237


Alminhas Restaurante

Alminhas Restaurante

Step through the unimposing entrance opposite the old synagogue into a bright contemporary yet warm and friendly atmosphere. The menu is varied enough to suit most palates with an large selection of deserts. The staff are very dedicated and friendly, well conversed in english to talk you through the modestly priced menu.

Daily: 10h00 - 15h00/19h00 - 02h00
Rua Dr. Joaquim Jacinto, 48A, Tomar, Portugal. | 39º 36' 12.7" N | 08º 24' 47.3" W
+351 249 346 594 | restaurante.alminhas@gmail.com


Tasquinha da Mitas

Tasquinha da Mitas

Good honest freshly cooked cuisine, typically large portions, try asking for a meia doce (half portions) if your appetite is as small as the prices here. Outside seating offers great views over the river whilst the staff are helpful and fluent in english.

Daily: 10h00 - 15h00/19h00 - 02h00
Rua Alexandre Herculano N.1, 2300-000, Tomar, Portugal.
39º 36' 17" N | 08º 24' 45.6" W
+351 249 324 152

80 miles (129km) North East of Lisbon Portela Airport Website

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From Porto take the A13 and A1 South 131 miles (211 km).
From Lisbon take the A1 North 85 miles (137 km).

Latitude - 39º 36' 19.4" | Longitude - 08º 24' 15.5"

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Regional train services (comboios regionais) from Lisboa Santa Apolónia:
• Ramal de Tomar line Timetable

Trains of Portugal Website
Rede Expressos run services to Tomar from Lisbon Sete Rios coach station and takes about 1 3/4 hours. Website