Castelo de Tomar

Castle in Tomar

Castelo De Tomar
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Sergei Gussev

In 1983, UNESCO recognized the Templar Castle and the Convent of the Knights of Christ in Tomar as a World Heritage Site, highlighting its significance in Western history. This monumental complex, originally a site of Roman worship, spans seven centuries of Portuguese history and encapsulates key events that shaped the Western world.

Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, granted the Knights Templar extensive lands between the Mondego and Tagus rivers. Legend holds that upon arriving in this region around 1160, the Knights, inspired by auspicious omens, chose a hill to build a castle and established the town of Tomar. D. Gualdim Pais, the Provincial Master of the Order of the Temple, was responsible for the construction of the castle and the settlement of the area.

The Order of the Temple was dissolved in 1314 due to persecution by Philip IV of France. Nonetheless, in 1319, under King Dinis of Portugal, the Templar members, their assets, and their privileges were absorbed into the newly formed Militia of the Knights of Christ. This transition allowed the Templars to persist in their chivalric mission in Portugal, marked by the change from the Templar cross’s curved arms to the straight-armed cross of the new Order.

The Military Order played a crucial role alongside Prince Henry the Navigator in preparing Portugal for the maritime explorations of the 15th and 16th centuries. By this time, Tomar Castle had become a convent and the headquarters of the Order, with Prince Henry serving as its governor and perpetual administrator. He transformed the knights into navigators tasked with expanding the kingdom and spreading the faith. This mission is symbolized by the Cross of the Knights of Christ, which adorned the sails of the caravels and was carved into various stone landmarks around the globe.

The Castelo de Tomar appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Tomar!

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Visiting Castelo de Tomar

Address: Castelo de Tomar, Estrada do Convento, Tomar, Portugal
Duration: 20 minutes

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