Tomar

Templars left Tomar an impressive castle

Tomar is located east of Fátima, in the valley of the river Nabão. Already from quite some distance you can see why Tomar is so famous: the templar castle and convent (Castelo dos Templários and the Convento do Cristo) on top of a hill. This is the main monument of the city and one of the most important in Portugal. It is a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Other places of interest

  • On the main square, the Praça da República, with a statue of great master Gualdim Pais, is the church Igreja de São João Baptista. The main aspect of this 15th century late-gothic manuelino church is the manuelino belltower with octagonal top and pyramid shaped peak.
  • Not far from the square you can find a 15th centrury synagogue in the former jewish quarter. There are not many synagogues left in Portugal, this one is one of the few that remained.
    The museum Luso-Hebraico 'Abraão Zacuto' is still small, but will be enlarged to be a cultural and religious centre. Next to the synagogue the ritual baths (mikveh) from the 15th century were excavated.
  • The 16th century chapel Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Conceição is a very good example of early renaissance.
  • Igreja de Santa Iria, also a renaissance chapel. Every year at the end of the month October is the Feira de Santa Iria, to commemorate the holy Irmé/Irene. She was a nun who lived in Tomar. The munk Remigo killed her and threw her body in the river Rio Tejo. Her body was found in Santarém.
  • Igreja de Santa Maria dos Olivais, the mother church of the order of the templars. This early gothic church was built in the 12th century, but was renovated quite a few times since then. Almost every master of the order was buried here.

Festa dos Tabuleiros

Every 2-3 years (the people of Tomar decides when the next one will be) there is an important festival, the Festa dos Tabuleiros.

The organisation of the festival is in the hands of the 'Brotherhood of the Holy Ghost', founded in the 14th century by queen Isabel, the Rainha Santa. This brotherhood gave bread, wine and meat to the poor. The party is on for 4 days and has fireworks, music, dance, and other folklore acivities. The main event of this Festa is the spectacular procession on Sunday. Fourhundred youg men accompany fourhundred young women in a procession. The women have a “tabuleiro” on their heads (board or basket) which carries 30 loafs of bread. The tower can weigh up to 15 kilos, and often has the same height as the women. On one of the squares you can see an example of a 'tabuleiro'.

Tomar area

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