The Templars’ Heritage
I visited this WHS in August 2014. It’s only 137km away from Lisbon and very close to another the monasteries of Batalha and Alcobaca. Nonetheless I decided to spend a night here to be able to visit late in the afternoon and early in the morning without the crowds. From the town centre, the Convent of Tomar is visible and it looks more like a castle or fort than a convent. Even when you arrive near the entrance and pass through the fortified walls, you wouldn’t think it’s a convent. Inside though it’s a different story. There are several courtyards and cloisters, a dormitory, a refectory, a kitchen and a set of spiralling staircases that are quite similar to the ones in the Chambord Castle, France. The exterior is exquisitely carved in the Manueline (Portuguese Baroque) style with numerous gargoyles and Templar crosses. The highlight of the exterior is definitely the Manueline window (picture) while the highlight of the interior is the recently restored charola. This is one of the most beautiful and unique monastries/convents I have visited and I would suggest you allow at least 3-4 hours to visit. It’s true that the exterior needs to be cleaned up from lichens and moss but at the same time I felt it was more authentic this way when compared to the whitewashed/cleaned up cloisters in other WHS around Portugal so at the end I was undecided. Either way I’d recommend a visit to anyone!
Convent of Christ in Tomar – Portugal