What an extraordinary building the Knights Templar have left behind here in Tomar. Castelo Templ rio and Convento da ordem de Cristo de Tomar – or the Convent of Christ,
Straight out of history – red crosses on the tunics, swords at their sides, the stamp of horses feet – you can feel what it might have been like here at the height of their power.
These French warrior monks originally came to Portugal to expel the Moors and to ensure the ‘christianising’ of Portugal. As they were largely successful, they were at somewhat of a loose end and I think became rather too powerful and rich. This building surely had no expense spared. Prince Henry the Navigator became Grand Master and was able to use their funds to bankroll much of the Age of Discoveries. The Templars had a rather ignomonious end when the last French Grand Master was burned at the stake.
But in this UNESCO world heritage site you can catch a glimpse of their life and influence, and of how Portugal was able to set out and ‘discover’ the New World.