Templar knights full-day tour
We start this medieval journey towards the Santarém District, in the central area of Portugal. Our first stop will be at Almourol Castle, one of the trademarks and most famous 'postcards' of the country. Erected 18m (60 ft) above sea this small granite island has 310m (1.000 ft) long by 75m (245 ft) wide in the middle of Tagus River.
The castle is an incredible sight, one of the most representative examples of the military architecture of the 12th century. It evokes simultaneously the early days of the Kingdom of Portugal and the Templar Knights Order. It is said that it was constructed by the Romans. Later it was remodeled by other invading people like the Visigoths and Moors. But with the Reconquest, it was conquered in 1129 and placed in trust of Gualdim Paes, the Grand Master of the Knight Templars.
Afterwards we continue to Constância, a small charming village where Luis de Camões (one of the most famous Portuguese poets) lived and used to write his lyrical poems. Constância once was called after a roguish name but got its new name in 1833 because of the 'constant' support of the liberal cause led by D. Maria II.
We proceed next to Tomar, a land given as a fief to the Templars and was especially important in the 15th century when it was a center of Portuguese overseas expansion under Henry the Navigator, the Grand Master of the Order of Christ, the
organization that succeeded the Templars in Portugal. In here we can visit the Church of Santa Maria do Olival, the headquarters of the Templars and also a pantheon of all Grand Masters.
After lunch and some free time to stroll around Tomar, we will proceed to S. João Batista church, located in the main square of the town, in front of the Town Hall and a statue of Gualdim Paes. In the same area, we continue to visit the best preserved medieval synagogue in Portugal. It was built in the mid-15th century by Prince Henry The Navigator, and has an incredible interior with Gothic details.
We finish this day in a great fashion: The Christ Convent is a magnificent monument, a Templar stronghold back in the day, constructed under the orders of Gualdim Paes and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.