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Portugal is a route of temples and cults , but few were as well-known or as mysterious as the knights templar. The order was decisive for the kingdom of Portugal during the reconquista. Discover all the secrets of the knights templa when visiting Tomar city, the order’s headquarters in Portugal.
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Our experience is your garantee that we understand, meet and exceed your expectations. We invite you to experience the authenticity of a full day tour through Almourol, Tomar and Dornes.
Where you will know the best of Portugal!
This a custom-made tour so you may choose your starting time.
In the middle of the River Tagus, the enigmatic Almourol Castle is one of the most emblematic monuments of the Christian reconquest.
Situated on an island in the middle of the River Tagus, Almourol is one of the most distinctive castles in Portugal, because of its historical significance and surrounding landscape.
Duration 1 Hour
Its history reminds us of the Reconquest of the Portuguese territory during the Middle Ages. When the Christians arrived here in 1129, the castle already existed under the name of Almorolan, having been incorporated immediately afterwards into the land that was placed under the protection of the Knights Templar, whose Master at that time was Gualdim Pais. According to an inscription at the entrance to the castle, its reconstruction work began in 1171.
Together with the castles of Tomar, Zêzere and Cardiga, it formed part of the defensive line of fortifications along the River Tagus.
After the Order of the Knights Templar was disbanded and the need to defend the territory no longer existed, the castle lay abandoned and forgotten until it was espoused by the prevailing Romantic spirit of the 19th century and restored to its present-day appearance.
The Convent of Christ
In 1983, UNESCO awarded the classification of world heritage to the Templar Castle and the Convent of the Knights of Christ in Tomar, a unique monument in the history of the western world. Built on a site that was originally used for Roman worship, this vast monumental complex illustrates seven centuries of Portugal’s history and contains several important mementoes of decisive moments in the history of the western world.
Afonso Henriques, our first king, bestowed upon the Knights of the Temple of Jerusalem vast tracts of land between the Mondego and Tagus rivers. Legend has it that, on reaching this region, the Knights were inspired by favourable omens to choose a hill on which to establish a castle and the name that they were to give to it: Tomar. The year was 1160 and D. Gualdim Pais, the Provincial Master of the Order of the Temple, ordered the castle to be built and the region to be settled.
The Order of the Temple was disbanded in 1314 as a result of its persecution by the French king Philip IV, the Fair. However, at the wishes of the Portuguese king D. Dinis, the members of the order, its property and privileges were all totally integrated into a new order – the Militia of the Knights of Christ in 1319. The Templars were thus able to continue their sacred mission of Chivalry in Portugal. Outwardly, the main sign marking the change was to be seen in the Order’s cross, which now had straight arms instead of the curved arms of the Templar cross.
Together with Prince Henry the Navigator, the new military Order began to prepare the Portuguese nation for the great enterprise of the maritime discoveries of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Tomar Castle was by then a Convent and the headquarters of the Order, and Prince Henry was made its governor and perpetual administrator. The lay master transformed the knights into navigators whose mission it was to expand the kingdom and spread the faith through the maritime discoveries. This was why the caravels bore the Cross of the Knights of Christ on their sails, and this sign was to be carved into various stone landmarks all around the world.
Duration: 2 hours
The development of Tomar is closely linked to the Order of the Templars, which received these lands in 1159 as a reward for the assistance they gave Dom Afonso Henriques (the First King of Portugal) in the Christian reconquest of the territory.
It was Dom Gualdim Pais, the first Grand Master of the Order in Portugal, who founded the castle and the remarkable Convent of Christ inside. Enlarged and altered over the centuries, this retains the influences of various architectural styles; it is the centrepiece of the city and classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
Tomar, known as the city of the Templars, reveals other traces of their influence, particularly the Sete Montes Park, where traditionally rites of initiation are said to have taken place, and the Church of Santa Maria do Olival, founded by the Templars in the 12th century and containing the tombs of various Masters of the Order.
The Order of the Templars was suppressed in France in the early 14th century, but in Portugal it was transformed into the Order of Christ on the initiative of King Dom Dinis. This was subsequently approved by the Pope, and it was decided that the immense wealth they possessed should pass to the Order of Christ, which came to play an important part in the historic Portuguese Discoveries.
Duration 1 hour
With an unusual pentagonal layout, the tower in the village of Dornes was built by the Knights Templar on the banks of the River Zêzere as a watchtower and defensive bastion for the region, during the Christian Reconquest.
Built from limestone and slate, on the site of a former Roman tower, the Tower has various military symbols on the edge of the doorway, deriving from its former defensive function. In the 16th century, in a more peaceful period, it was adapted into a belltower for the neighbouring mother church.
Overlooking the waters of the reservoir of Castelo de Bode, the Tower of Dornes today forms part of a spectacular landscape and constitutes one of the most important sightseeing spots in the region.
Great family Tour, the driver was very friendly and the car was clean.
Our guide was extremely knowledgeable – we learnt a lot about the knights templar history, Portugal’s history and how they all fit together.