When we reached Portugal, we went to Fatima in the morning and later went to Tomar city, a small Portuguese town which should be included in if you are doing your pilgrimage tour in Fatima. Tomar is only half an hour from Fatima so the more you should go to Tomar to check it out, especially if you like to learn about history.
The Tomar Castle and Convent of Christ
I have to say the highlight of Tomar city has to be the Tomar Castle and Convent of Christ which was located at the hilltop and built in the 12th century. The Convent of Christ is inside the Tomar Castle. Interesting right? You got to visit the Church & the Castle, killing two birds with one stone.
Built by Knights Templar
Before it becomes a convert the site was a castle built by the Knights Templar (the Catholic military who fought against the Moors). Tomar was one of the most influential towns of the Iberian peninsula, being the religious center for the Knights Templar. That’s why this castle is so special as it has nothing to do with the King but with the Knights Templar.
Who are the Knights Templar?
The Templar is “Medieval superman” and during the Middle Ages (5th to the 15th century), Templars are famous across the world. It was a large organization of devout Christians with their mission to protect the European travelers visiting sites in the Holy Land. They are famous with their white outfit and the red cross in their chest. I bet you have seen them in the movies. (Photo credit)
Orange Orchard in the Castle
A few lines of orange trees were planted neatly in the castle complex.
We don’t get to see orange tree back home so seeing them are really great.
Unesco World Heritage Site
Built over five centuries, this place- a church and a castle came to symbolize the Portuguese maritime expansion during the Manueline period in the 16th century. In 1983, it was listed in as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The entrance of the Convent church in Manueline style
The Manueline style is Portuguese late Gothic, composite Portuguese style of architectural ornamentation of the first decades of the 16th century.
The famous chapterhouse window
The special window is very huge and decorated with sculptures of marine plants, navigational instruments, and sailing robes. This is another masterpiece showing the Manueline style. The style was much influenced by the astonishing successes of the voyages of discovery of Portuguese navigators, from the coastal areas of Africa to the discovery of Brazil and the ocean routes to the Far East – Malacca. Portuguese sea power can be seen here.
With a population of just 40,000 people, Tomar is located in Central Portugal and northeast of Lisbon. This is really a small town and not many people visiting which is a good thing as you don’t get too many photobombs in your photos.
Touch the lucky sculpture!
Inside the Church
You could see the red cross which was also used on the Knights Templar’s outfit, on top of the ceiling of the Church.
Print on the Wall
The Octagonal Altar
This would be the most impressive feature, having the octagonal altar beneath a 16 segment dome. Number 8 is an example of medieval Christian numerology. 8 means new beginning or it denotes “a new order or creation”
Interior of the Round church decorated with late Gothic painting and sculpture.
The decoration is very colorful, with lots of gold & eastern influences.
Hallways & Rooms
There are endless hallways and passageways and large rooms but I am not sure what are those used for. Don’t walk alone as you may get lost. Plenty of narrow staircases to walk so be extra careful as it is quite dim.
Fountain in the main cloister of the Convent of Christ
This place has few cloisters, one where you can look down from the top when you are at the highest level. There is a fountain in the middle. Not many people visiting this place and I am not sure why?
Templar Symbol – the cross
We spotted a “tuk-tuk” in Tomar, the motorized three-wheelers seem to be common in Portugal, especially in Lisbon. We see more of tuk-tuk in Lisbon, I guess it is easier to operate and cheaper.
My Tomar trip has made me understand more about the Knights Templar history. This place is more suitable for people who love about history and not much for young children. A day trip is enough if you are staying in Fatima or from Lisbon.
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