Buy House in Tomar
Buy House in Tomar
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Why Move to Tomar?
Whatever your reason for visiting the city, climbing up to the Templar castle and discovering the monumental work of the Convent of Christ is a must. The Charola (Rotunda) is the oldest part. This Templar chapel was built in the 12th century, like the castle, which was at the time the Kingdom’s most up-to-date and advanced military set-up, inspired by the fortifications of the Holy Land. It was converted into a Chancel during the restoration works ordered by King Manuel I in the 16th century, when the complex gained the architectural splendor, kept intact to this day, which earned it World Heritage Site status.
It’s worth visiting the Convent at length to discover some of its precious details, such as the depictions on the Renaissance portal, the unique symbolism of the Manueline Window in the Chapter Hall, the architectural details in the Main Cloister, and the spaces connected to Templar rituals. To better understand its history, it’s important to know how the Order of the Knights Templar became the Order of Christ, upholding their power, knowledge, and wealth in Portugal. The famous Henry, the Navigator, the mentor of the Discoveries, was one of its most important governors and protectors.
From the Convent, you can walk down through the Sete Montes Woods to the historic center. Halfway along the road, you will see the Nossa Senhora da Conceição Chapel, a small Renaissance jewel by João de Castilho, a Portuguese who also worked in the Convent.
Then you must visit Tomar. The oldest medieval urban area has a cross-shaped layout, orientated along with the points of the compass, with a convent at each end. The Praça da República, with its Main Church dedicated to St. John the Baptist, marks its center, with the Castle hill and the Convent of Christ to the west. The surrounding streets are lined with traditional shops, including the oldest café where the delights of the local pastries can be appreciated: almond and squash queijadas (cheesecakes) and the traditional Fatias de Tomar (Tomar slices) made with just egg yolks and cooked in a bain-marie in a very special pot, invented by a local tinsmith in the mid-20th century.
To the south is the Convent of São Francisco, where you can visit today the interesting Museu dos Fósforos (Match Museum), and to the north the former Convent of Anunciada. To the east, on the site of the current Museu da Levada, you can see the old mills, powered by the River Nabão which crosses the city. On one of its banks is the Convent of Santa Iria, and a little further along, the Church of Santa Maria do Olival, which houses the tombs of several Knights Templar, including that of Gualdim Pais, the first master, who died in 1195.
The whole town expanded from this core, which is also the setting for one of the chief traditional events, the Tabuleiros Festival.
Tomar has not only witnessed the fighting of the Christian Reconquest in the 12th century but also preserves an interesting testimony to the Jewish religion, in the old 15th-century Synagogue, currently the Abraão Zacuto Luso-Hebrew Museum, devoted to this distinguished 15th-century astronomer and mathematician. Located in the former Rua da Judiaria, it contains a valuable documentary and epigraphic collection. Note the holes at each corner which were used to place earthen jugs on the wall in order to improve the acoustic conditions of the house.
Besides the above points of interest, there is also the Centre for Contemporary Art which houses the collection of one of the most important Portuguese art historians of the 20th century, Professor José-Januaryo França.
For a rest from the cultural tour, there’s nothing better than a break in Mouchão Park. This is a cool place where you can see the Mouchão Wheel, a wooden water wheel, which is a landmark of the city and evokes the time when mills, oil presses, and farmland along the river all contributed to Tomar’s economic prosperity.
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