Tomar is a small city well worth a visit. It has an incredible history especially when you look high up on the hillside and see the main attraction, the mysterious Convento de Cristo (Convent of Christ), head quarters of the Knights Templar. The centre of Tomar has a pleasant park with a waterfall, playground, sculptures and a waterwheel.
From the park we headed for the main street, Rua Serpa Pinto, a beautiful street with interesting architecture and the castle as a backdrop. The main street has plenty of shops, both touristy and big names but also had lots of cafes and bars. At the top of the street is the 15th century St. John the Baptist Church (Igreja de São João Baptista), set in the large Republic Square. In the square you can also find the town hall and a statue of a 12th century knights Templar grand master (Gualdim de Pais), observing goings on from his elevated position.
On foot you can take a route from behind the town hall up a long medieval cobble stone path, part of the pilgrims way to the UNESCO world heritage site Convento de Cristo. For 6 euros per adult, free for children, you can see stunning chapels, cloisters, gardens and views. It’s hard not to be wowed by the architectural interiors and exteriors of this complex. What secrets does this complex hold? Is it a myth that it hides the world’s greatest templar treasure? Is there a secret passageway between the Santa Maria dos Olivais church and the Castle?
We had fun exploring, there is a small pricey cafe, Chaos enjoyed his over-priced donut, refreshed and we had our now customary galão (latte). Both kids loved the various nooks and crannies, doorways and hidden hidey-holes of this impressive series of buildings. Whilst Mayhem slept we walked back down the hill into the centre to take in a few more sights.
You can get a tourist map of the town from the TIC if you fancy more exploring, we walked a route ten minutes back across the River Nabao to the Knights Templar burial site of Santa Maria Do Olival. There are great views looking back towards the imposing Convento overlooking and guarding the city.
Tomar, a wondeful, tranquil city, small enough to see the sights in a day, a city steeped in the history and secrets of the mysterious Knights Templar.