Tomar (some spell it “Thomar”) is a townin the centre of Portugal, on the banks ofthe Nabão river.Population: around 40 000 It is a historic town, founded by the knights Templar, in 1162, over a roman settlement (Sellis) that had also been occupied by the Moors.
Situated on a fertile planeof many pines, oaks andolive trees, in a region ofhistoric castles and greatbattles, Tomar has beenrewarded with UNESCO’srecognition of its Heritage.
The town centre lays between the river and the hill where theTemplar knights built the castle and their Monastery.
A few Art Deco façades decorate the south side
On the north side, two blue-tile pannels (azulejos) decorate a groundfloor façade.
This azulejo pannelrepresents a famouswindow of the Templar’sChrist Convent: themanueline window, anexhuberant gothic styleinspired in the portugueseoverseas discoveries.It will be shown in thispresentation later on.
As any portuguese small town, Tomar has its central café: the CaféParaíso (Paradise)
Now we arrive to the main square in the old town:Republic Square
The Templar heritage:the Castleandthe Christ Convent
In I983, UNESCO classified the Templar Castle and the Conventof the Knights of Christ in Tomar, as a unique monument in thehistory of the western world, and a world heritage site.
This vast monumentillustrates seven centuriesof Portugals History
During the second half of the 12th century, the Knights Templarwere called to Portugal, where they helped in the Reconquest.Their first and principal fortress was Tomar.
The original churchwas built at the endof the 12th century,around 1160, by thefirst great Master ofthe Templars,Gualdim Pais.It was based on apolygonal groundplan including anoctagonal choir withambulatory: this isone of the typicalrotondas of Templararchitecture of whicha few examples stillexist in Europe.
The Templar round church (late 12th century) is indicated in red,while the manueline nave (early 16th century) is in blue.
In the 14th century, the Order of the Knights Templar was abolished andreplaced by the Order of Christ, which supported Portugals maritimediscoveries of the 15th century. Tomar remained an important site withHenry the Navigator (Dom Henrique), Grand Master of the orderbetween 1417 and 1460.
The great doorway of thechurch nave, in manuelinegothic carved limestone.
The Cloister of the cemetery, built to the north-east of the rotondaaround 1430 by Dom Henrique, employing pointed arches of anelegant Gothic style, sustained by twin columns.
The octogonal ambulatory (Charola)The church was worked out by Gualdim Pais as a 16-sidedambulatory after Jerusalem temples that the Knights Templartook as a model.From outside, it looks more like a strong fortress, but the interioris otherworldly in its vast heights - an awesome combination ofsimple forms and rich embellishment. The decoration is fromlater 15-16th cent., under Manueline and Spanish Filipine rule.
A central space witheight angles and aninvolving polygonalnave of 16 sides.
In the centre stands aneerily gothic high altar,like a temple within atemple.Restored wall paintingsdate from the early 16thcentury..
The pulpitThis is a small masterpiece ofreligious art.Sumptuously decorated,dominated by magnificentfrescoes, it’s a Renaissancejewel.
And then... the famousmanueline window of theConvent.
A prodigious decor combinesGothic reminiscences andMoorish influences, offeringthe most accomplishedexpression of the Manuelinedecorative style.
The Aqueduct of PegõesIn 1581, after a succession crisis, the Portuguese nobilitygathered in the Convent of Christ in Tomar and officiallyrecognised Philip II of Spain (Philip I of Portugal) as King.Between 1581 and 1640 the kingdoms of Portugal and Spainwere united. The aqueduct of the Convent was built during theSpanish rule.