Tomar, Portugal

Be mesmerized by Tomar, the Portuguese city of the Knights Templar. 

Tomar, Portugal
Tomar © Celestino Manuel

The historic centre of Tomar, on the banks of the Nabão river, lies at the feet of a lush hill topped by the Castle of the Knights Templar of Tomar, erected in the 12th century. In the interior of the castle lies the Convent of Christ, a true architectonic jewel mixing Gothic, Manueline, and Renaissance styles. It certainly is a witness of the history of Portugal, and was listed as World Heritage by UNESCO along with the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon and Batalha Monastery. The three are the most important Manueline-style monuments in Portugal.

Convento de Cristo, Tomar, Portugal
Convent of Christ © Miguel Hugo Carriço
Rio Narbão, Tomar, Portugal
Narbão River © Paulo Pereira
Festa dos Tabuleiros, Tomar, Portugal
Festa dos Tabuleiros © Celestino Manuel

The historical centre of the city is quiet, ideal for relaxing walks along the streets flanked by white washed houses. Be amazed at its monuments and museums. Other beautiful places to walk around are the parks around the river, populated by swans, herons, and ducks; or the gardens of the Mata Nacional dos Sete Montes National Forest.

The Nabão river divides the city in half with the western bank becoming the newer area, and the eastern one, the historical.

Tomar is really extraordinary, and there is no better way to witness it than by visiting the Convent of Christ, which overlooks the whole city and valley. After more than two centuries since its establishment, the headquarters of the Knights Templar still dominates the area from its hill.

There are many interesting and lively celebrations. Don’t miss the opportunity of visiting Tomar during, for example, the Festa dos Tabuleiros. This festival occurs every four years during the months of June and July, the next being in 2019. It’s a week full of music, drinking, dancing, and fireworks. The highlight of the festival is the procession of almost four hundred young women dressed in white (traditionally, virgins) carrying trays with bread and wheat on top of their head. The boys taking part in the procession help the girls to balance the trays, which could weight up to 15 kilos. The next day, the priests bless the trays and divide the bread and wine among the families to Tomar.

The celebration of Festa de Nossa Senhora da Piedade is one of the most religious celebrations of the city. It takes places during the first Sunday of September, when a candlelight and allegorical decorative carts procession occurs.

Due to the good train collection with Lisbon, Tomar is a perfect place to become your base for the holidays, or your principal destination.

In the nearby area, you can visit spots such as the Almourol Castle, Contância, Vila Nova da Barquinha, Santarém, and many more.

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