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A Symbol of the Templar Legacy, Home to UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Impressive Convent of Christ

Tomar

Tomar, Portugal, was founded in the 12th century by the Master of the Knights Templar, keeping their treasures till our times.

Tomar is located 140 km from Lisbon, on the banks of the Naban River. Its history is closely connected with Templar secrets. The Monastery of the Order of Christ, a world heritage site founded in the 12th century by the Knights Templar, is located on the hill right above Tomar. Legend says that the hill was shown to them in a mystical vision. Upon arrival in Tomar, it is impossible not to see this amazing monument surrounded by lush trees. The architecture of the monastery is characterized by a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance styles, an abundance of distinctive Templar signs in the decor, as well as elements of the Moorish style. The heart of the monastery is the round church of Sharol, built in imitation of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and decorated with plant motifs. The interior of the church is decorated with Gothic paintings and sculptures and Manueline stone engravings.

The monastery could become the pearl of the city, but the charm of Tomar does not end there, and the list of Portuguese medieval castles is much wider. The central part of Tomar, Rua Serpa Pinto, where you will find the best shops, is considered a historical district. The street will lead you to Praça da Republica, where another important attraction is located, the Church of Sant Joan Batista. It combines two styles, Gothic and Manueline style. The church contains many elements of a maritime theme as the 15th century was the era of the emergence of Portugal as a maritime power. The walls of the temple are decorated with the famous panels “The Last Supper” and “The Beheading of John the Baptist”. In 1910, the Church of Sant Joan Batista was recognized as one of the country's national monuments.

One more perl in the architecture of Tomar is the Church of St. Francisco, built in the 17th century. The portal of the building with graceful stone columns and arches is made in the Mannerist style with many elements in gilding with decorative paintings. 

Among Tomar attractions should be mentioned the Church of Santa Maria do Olival was founded in the 13th century, when Tomar was ruled by the Knights Templar. At that time, burial processions of members of the order were held here. Later the church became the resting place of the knights of the Order of Christ. Today, the unique ancient monastery, which amazes with its impressive size, is a landmark of world significance and is listed as Portugal UNESCO site. Unfortunately, the building has undergone multiple reconstructions, but in general, it's well-kept till our time. At the altar, there is a majestic statue of the Virgin Mary. What distinguishes it from other churches in the city is the presence of an interesting window above the entrance, made in the shape of a flower.

The list of must-visit Tomar historical sites should include a visit to the Synagogue, located on Rua Dr. Joaquim Jacinto. It was built at the beginning of the 15th century and is one of the oldest in Portugal. Today the Synagogue has been converted into a museum named after the great scientist Abraham Zakutu.

In the vicinity of the city, there is an ancient aqueduct that has also been preserved which was used for water supply to the monastery of the Order of Christ. Construction of the bridge, an object of Medieval heritage, began in the 16th century and lasted almost a hundred years. It has 180 arches and is 6,000 meters long. The aqueduct is located in a picturesque natural area, which is ideal for walking.

Tomar tourism is not limited only to historical monuments. This city has many interesting places to visit that are definitely worth a look. Architecture, nature, and religion are presented in all their diversity, creating one amazing picture of an ancient city. Tomar will certainly leave only pleasant memories, perfectly complementing your holiday in Portugal.

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All About Tomar

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When to Visit

Tomar has cool, wet winters and hot, dry summers. Throughout the year, temperatures typically range from 4°C to 31°C and rarely fall below -1°C or above 38°C. The weather in Tomar is quite stable; you can trust the forecasts made for the week ahead. This will help you plan the ideal travel time.

As for the most comfortable time for a visit, If you don't like long walks in cold weather, it's highly advisable to go on this tour from April to November. July-August is the hottest time. In addition to weather conditions, you also need to consider the opening hours of the main attractions. It’s worth coming 2-3 hours earlier in the morning so that you can walk through the beautiful garden with orange and olive trees without crowds of tourists.

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Getting Around

Tomar is equipped with a developed transport infrastructure. The city also has a train station, from where you can easily get to different destinations in Portugal. Bus service from the bus station has also been improved. Those who prefer comfort can rent a car.

There are direct trains to Tomar Station from Lisbon's Gare do Oriente which take from 90 minutes to 2 hours depending on the train. Some trains may involve a change at Entroncamento. If traveling north to Coimbra or Porto, you will need to change trains at Lamarosa or Entroncamento. There are also frequent trains to Santarém. The bus station is adjacent to Tomar railway station and there are buses to Lisbon, Leiria, Fatima, and Santarém.


 

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Travel Information

You can get an unforgettable experience while traveling in Tomar if you consider a few simple Tomar travel tips:

1. How to make the first trip to Tomar unforgettable?

It’s worth going to Tomar not only to get into the spirit of history. Tomar is home to one of the most beautiful and mysterious castles in Portugal. It has existed for hundreds of years and became the last stronghold of the Templars in Europe when persecution began against them. Tomar is also famous for its Renaissance wall paintings. Perhaps, this is the only place in the country where there are examples of such a high class. All this against the backdrop of the leisurely life of the old town.

The Tomar travel guide mentions that the Holy Grail is kept here, but there is no official evidence of this fact. The majestic monastery, built in the mid-12th century, although at first it was a castle and not a Catholic monastery, looks more like a powerful fortification. Have a walk by the moors and get your own impression of this unusual place.

2. What is a list of Tomar hidden gems?

One of the less-known, but interesting attractions of Tomar is the Match Museum located within its walls. The collection of this museum is recognized as the largest in Europe. The Match Museum is far from what Tomar is known for, as most people who come here want to see the Templar castle. Tomar resident Aquiles de Mota Lima started to collect matches in 1953. This happened during his trip to London for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Now the Match Museum in Tomar keeps 43 thousand matchboxes from 122 countries.

It is located in an old monastery of St. Francisco, close to the Tomar train and bus station. Every matchbox is unique, so the visitors would definitely have a lot of fun at the exhibition.

3. What dishes are the must-try in Tomar?

Tomar's restaurants will delight visitors with a selection of local cuisine, serving traditional dishes. A daily dish for local residents is Acorda soup, prepared on the basis of bread with a variety of ingredients added to it, such as fish, seafood, boiled eggs and fresh herbs. In each restaurant, the soup is prepared according to a special recipe. The classic version is served with bread, garlic and olive oil.

Migas, which is considered a typical Spanish dish, is also quite widespread in Tomar. The dish is also prepared from bread, but it is customary not to pour boiling water over it, as for soup, but to fry it in a frying pan with olive oil. A variety of ingredients can also be added, including vegetables and garlic, as well as various seafood. Quite common and popular are versions with spinach and alfalfa, and some restaurants serve it in addition to grilled meat.

Top Attractions Near Tomar

Explore Tomar's excellent selection of attractions, from ancient historic wonders to vibrant cultural sightseeing

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Frequently Asked Questions

Get clear and useful insider tips for the most common queries about Tomar

What is the best way to get to Tomar from Lisbon?

Train is the most convenient way to reach Tomar from Lisbon. The departure time can be seen on the timetable. The train departs regularly from Lisbon's Santa Apolónia station and takes approximately 2 hours to reach Tomar.

Are there any authentic cultural festivals in Portugal in Tomar?

Yes, Tomar is a central place for several festivals and events throughout the year, such as the Festa dos Tabuleiros in July. This colorful and traditional festival celebrated every four years in July, includes parades and cultural performances.

Are there comfortable options for the day trips from Tomar to nearby destinations?

Yes, Tomar is an excellent base to explore the sightseeings around. It's easy to go for trips to nearby towns and attractions, visit the medieval village of Óbidos, the Batalha Monastery, or the picturesque town of Fatima as they are easy-accessible by local transport.