About Tomar and the Knights Templar Region
The historic Knights Templar Region in Central Portugal
As well as its History, Castles, Abbeys and other historic site the Knights Templar Region has much to offer. We are shortly going to ;post links to other activities you can participate in. Follow this link to see what is on offer (Note this page is still under construction). Link
You can find out about the history of the Knights Templar of Tomar by reading the guide book “The Knights Templar of Tomar” by Sylvia Anginotti. The book can be ordered from this website.
You can see a 6 minute video about Tomar and the Knights Templar Tours below or you can watch it on You Tube. We have now made public our 12 minute film about the amazing Festa Dos Tabuleiros. You can see it on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7flibPDi00&feature=plcp You can also watch some short video clips about the Tomar region on our Tours Page.
The main attraction which draws people from all over the world to Tomar is the Knights Templar Castle and its UNESCO World Heritage site The Convento San Cristo. But there is much more to Tomar than the Convento.
The Historic centre of Tomar is a joy to visit. Particularly on a sunny day when the street cafes are full of locals and tourists enjoying a coffee or an ice cream. Sitting in the Praça da República, (Republic Square,) in front of the elegant Town Hall, opposite the 15thcentury Igreja de São João Baptista (Church of St. John the Baptist) built by King Manuel I by the statue of Gualdim Pais, the founder of Tomar is a magical experience.
Three blocks from the square is the location of the 15thcentury synagogue which contains the Abraham Zacuto Portuguese-Jewish Museum. Within the synagogue are a number of interesting exhibits from across the world. The synagogue is an evocative reminder of the influence the Jews of Tomar had in the Discoveries of the New World.
Ten minutes walk from the Historic centre is the church of Santa Maria dos Olivais which was built in the mid 1300s for the Grand Masters of the Knights Templar Order. Santa Maria dos Olivais was built on the site of a seventh century temple and was chosen, during the Portuguese Discoveries, as the mother church of all the churches of Africa, Asia and the Americas. No where does the mystery of the Knights Templar seem so real as in Saint Maria dos Olivais.
Today a walk in Tomar’s narrow streets, a coffee in a pavement café, a browse in the shops, seems to take you back in time to an era when life was a little bit slower and quality of service mattered more than speed of delivery.
Tomar is a great place to try the rich red Portuguese wines and wide variety of Portuguese traditional dishes. Tomar town has a wide variety of restaurants serving great food All of them are extremely good value for money and some of them are astonishingly inexpensive. In the surrounding region there are some great restaurants offering fantastic cuisine and often in the most beautiful surroundings you would wish to be in. Once you have tasted the food and wine in Tomar, basked in the sun and strolled around the historic streets you will know why you have to keep coming back.
Like all beautiful places Tomar has a river, the Nabão, running through it. To stand on the old bridge and throw bread in to the river to be competed for by shoals of huge fish and numerous varieties of quacking ducks or watch a heron catch a wriggling silver fish is a timeless delight to be savoured.
In the region surrounding Tomar are a huge variety of pretty little villages with cafes and restaurants. Nearby the banks of the River Zêzere host many river beaches ideal for swimming or diving or canoeing. In summer the water temperature reaches 27C and there is no salt and no chlorine in the water. The local fresh water fish, the Achigã, is great sport for fishermen and delicious when grilled.
Within a radius of one hour by car from Tomar you can access the most important historic sites in Portugal. You can visit the incredible golden beaches of the Silver coast. You can attend Festivals and mediaeval markets and tournaments. You can take in the amazing Golegã Horse Fair in November. You can eat great food and drink fabulous wine. You can play golf on some of the best Golf Courses in Europe. Once you have done this you will want to come back to this wondeful part of the world.
For more information about Tomar, its attractions, restaurants and hotels follow the link to www.travel-in-portugal.com/Tomar/ or the Tomar Council web site at www.cm-tomar.pt which is in Portuguese but can be easily translated by Google Translator. You can also watch a 6 minute video in Portuguese at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAOJoaJ78Q8&feature=related
In July 2011 Tomar held the Festa Dos Tabuleiros, Festival of the Trays, event. It’s origin goes back centuries, to Roman times. The ten day festival is one of the most spectacular Festivals in Europe despite being hardly known outside of Portugal.
The historic streets of Tomar were thronged with hundreds of thousands of visitors. The Festival culminated with the amazing Parade of the Trays when 700 women walked through the decorated streets carrying the elaborate Tabuleiros on their heads. If you haven’t seen it you really need to try to get to Tomar to witness the breathtaking spectacle. The next one will be in 2014.
There is much, much, more to be said about Tomar. But why not visit it for yourself. We are always happy to advise you. Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org (please check your spam/junk folder if you do not receive a reply in 24 hours).