Fodor's Expert Review Convento de Cristo

Tomar Religious Building/Site/Shrine Fodor's Choice

Atop a hill rising from the Old Town is this remarkable UNESCO World Hereitage Site. You can drive to the top of the hill or hike for about 20 minutes along a path through the trees before reaching a formal garden lined with azulejo-covered benches. This was the Portuguese headquarters of the Knights Templar, from 1160 until the order was forced to disband in 1314. Identified by their white tunics emblazoned with a crimson cross, the Templars were at the forefront of the Christian armies in the Crusades and during the struggles against the Moors. King Dinis in 1334 resurrected the order in Portugal under the banner of the Knights of Christ and reestablished Tomar as its headquarters. In the early 15th century, under Prince Henry the Navigator (who for a time resided in the castle), the order flourished. The caravels of the Age of Discovery even sailed under the order's crimson cross.

The oldest parts of the complex date to the 12th century, including the towering castle keep... READ MORE

Atop a hill rising from the Old Town is this remarkable UNESCO World Hereitage Site. You can drive to the top of the hill or hike for about 20 minutes along a path through the trees before reaching a formal garden lined with azulejo-covered benches. This was the Portuguese headquarters of the Knights Templar, from 1160 until the order was forced to disband in 1314. Identified by their white tunics emblazoned with a crimson cross, the Templars were at the forefront of the Christian armies in the Crusades and during the struggles against the Moors. King Dinis in 1334 resurrected the order in Portugal under the banner of the Knights of Christ and reestablished Tomar as its headquarters. In the early 15th century, under Prince Henry the Navigator (who for a time resided in the castle), the order flourished. The caravels of the Age of Discovery even sailed under the order's crimson cross.

The oldest parts of the complex date to the 12th century, including the towering castle keep and the fortresslike, 16-sided Charola, which—like many Templar churches—is patterned after the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and has an octagonal oratory at its core. The paintings and wooden statues in its interior, however, were added in the 16th century. The complex's medieval nucleus acquired its Manueline church and cluster of magnificent cloisters during the next 500 years. To see what the Manueline style is all about, stroll through the church's nave with its many examples of the twisted ropes, seaweed, and nautical themes that typify the style, and be sure to look at the chapter house window, one of the most photographed in Europe.

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Religious Building/Site/Shrine Military Sight Fodor's Choice

Quick Facts

Estrada do Convento
Tomar, Santarém  2300–000, Portugal

249-313481

www.conventocristo.pt

Sight Details:
Rate Includes: €6; €15 combined ticket includes Alcobaça and Batalha monasteries

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