Between the two rivers Tagus and Mondego in the 12th century, the Templars built a fortress whose surroundings later grew to become the city of Tomar. Over the following centuries, the order grew and became increasingly influential and powerful.This situation did not suit the church and in 1312 Pope Clement V dissolved the Templars, accusing them of heresy. Four years later, the order was reorganized by the King of Portugal and took the name Order of Christ.In the 16th century, the fortress was transformed into a magnificent castle of knights. The town of Tomar, with its unique history of medieval knighthood, is well worth a visit. Here you can discover a large number of architectural monuments that have been preserved and are in one way or another associated with the Knights Templar and the Order of Christ.You will also be able to stroll through the typically Portuguese narrow streets of Tomar and meet the spirits of the Knights Templar who once walked the same paths.
Guided tours of Tomar in Portugal
You can visit Tomar by your own means and to do so you will find below a list of the most interesting monuments to see. I have not gone into details about the opening of the buildings or their prices, so I cannot tell you if some visits are paying and concerning the timetables, I think you can base yourself on 9am – 7pm.However, Tomar is a city that has a lot to tell and I think that by visiting this particular city in Portugal on your own, you will certainly miss a lot of information. The city is full of anecdotes and history. You will probably only visit it once in your life, so I think it’s a shame to miss out on half the information.For those who want to have the long versions of the history of the monuments, visit the most interesting ones and get the best out of Tomar, then I advise you to hire a guide who knows all this at your fingertips and will be able to accompany you in the best possible way. Guided tours also include the trip from Lisbon, for more serenity. All the guided tours of Tomar that I have selected here have the best marks and comments, are conducted by English speaking guides and can be cancelled up to 24 hours before the tour starts. If you change your program, no problem.
The Lisboa Card gives you the right to enjoy free transport in and around Lisbon and also makes access to the Convent of Christ in Tomar free of charge. All the information in the Lisboa Card guide
or by clicking on the map below to order it directly online. It is valid for 24, 48 or 72 hours.
Click on the Lisboa Card to order it online
Convent of the Order of Christ in Tomar
The Convent of the Order of Christ was built for five centuries, starting in 1160, and this majestic and emblematic building in Tomar is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It was originally built as a fortress but later it was rebuilt as a monastery. Within its walls lived great warrior monks.The oldest building of this monastic complex in Tomar is a round church built as the “Dome of the Rock” of the Temple of Solomon. The walls of the castle are surrounded by a beautiful park with isolated places hidden behind large tree branches. This convent is one of the most beautiful works of medieval architecture and is undoubtedly worth a visit.
Window of the Convent of Christ
Indeed, I’m talking about a window, but a very special one and therefore one of the things to see in Tomar. It is located in the area of the fortress of Tomar in Portugal and more precisely on one of its naves: the window of the Convent of Christ. This simple window attracts tourists from all over the world: its clothing is carved in oak and creates a marine motif. The cross of the Order of Christ crowns the top of this window in Tomar.This window also contains the unusual sculpture of a head, which is considered by many to be a self-portrait of the sculptor himself. Many countries considered this window to be a truly unique work of art of the 19th century and even England was willing to wipe out all of Portugal’s debt for free, simply because of the beauty of the window in the Convent of Christ in Tomar.
Church of San Francisco in Tomar
In 1624 King Philip III ordered the construction of the Church of San Francisco in Tomar, which attracts many tourists every year. The portal of the building is made in the style of mannerism, typical of this century. Many parts of the church are gilded and decorated with decorative paintings. The building has many elegant stone columns and arcades.The most interesting attraction of the Church of San Francisco is the Matchmaking Museum. More than 40,000 matchboxes from all over the world are stored there. The collection of this museum is recognized as the largest in Europe.
The Church of Saint João de Batista
The church of Saint João de Batista (15th century) in Tomar is an important part of the city’s unique architecture. It combines two styles: Gothic and Manuelline, recognized as a popular Portuguese style.The 15th century was the era of Portugal’s recognition as a maritime power. This church in Tomar therefore logically contains many elements of the maritime theme. The walls of the temple are decorated with the famous panel “The Last Supper” or “Decapitation of John the Baptist”.In 1910, the church of San João Batista de Tomar was recognized as one of the national monuments of the country.
Church of Santa Maria do Olival
In the 13th century, when the town of Tomar was ruled by the Knights Templar, the first Gothic church in the town was built. At that time, there were funeral processions of members of the Order of Christ. Later, the church became the burial place of the Knights of Christ.Unfortunately, the building has undergone many reconstructions but it has largely retained its original appearance. On the altar stands a majestic statue of the Virgin Mary. It is distinguished from the other churches in the city by the presence of a majestic window above the entrance, made in the form of a flower.
The Templar Castle of Tomar
The Templar Castle of Tomar was built by Master Gualdim Pais in 1160. In the 14th century, when the Order was abolished, many buildings belonging to the Templars were destroyed all over Portugal. However, the Templars’ castle was preserved.Over time, the castle became a real temple. The place was ennobled, paths were laid out, flowerbeds were planted. The complex combines several styles. The annexes are in Gothic and Baroque style. The main temple, located on the hill, looks like a boat.
The Chapelle of Nossa Senhora da Conceição
Another monument to visit in the outskirts of Tomar is the chapel of Nossa Senhora da Conceição, one of the national treasures of the country.This small chapel remained under construction for 35 years. It was intended as a resting place for King João III of Portugal who reigned in the 16th century, and was built in the traditional Italian style.The walls inside the building are smooth, the ceiling and windows are decorated with floral ornaments.
Another interesting visit of the 15th century in Tomar which can be considered as the Synagogue. It is the only Jewish building in Portugal at the time of the Renaissance. This building is located in the Jewish quarter, in the heart of Tomar. The synagogue is a kind of gift to the Jewish people from Prince Henry for his financial help in organizing expeditions.Unfortunately, the synagogue in this building was not used for very long. After the expulsion of the Jewish people from Portugal, the building was used as a prison for some time. A few years later, a church appeared. Later, the premises were converted into a warehouse.In 1939, the Abraham Jukutu Jewish Museum opened its doors here, where there are now exhibitions that tell visitors about the history of the people. There is even a tombstone dating back to 1308.Unfortunately, the building has not kept its historical aspect. The façade of the museum looks like an ordinary modern building, but inside you can still see the former grandeur of the synagogue with Gothic columns and arches with floral ornaments.
Pegões Aqueduct in Tomar
Not far from the city is the Pegões Aqueduct near Tomar. It was built to supply water to the monastery of the Order of Christ. The construction of this huge aqueduct began in the 16th century and was completed in the 17th century. This was the time when King Philip II seized the Portuguese crown and unified the lands under his reign.The length of the Tomar aqueduct is 6 km and it consists of 180 arches. The height of the arches varies from one point to another but the highest reaches 30 m. If you wish, you can take a leisurely walk along the aqueduct and admire this majestic work of art up close.