The Templar Castle/Convent of Christ was seat of the Order of the Temple until 1314, and of the Order of Christ from 1357. Part of the castle (1160) is the late 12th century octagonal “Charola”, a Romanesque sanctuary of eastern influence. UNESCO classified this site as a World Heritage Monument in 1983. Tomar was founded in the late 12th century by Gualdim Pais, grand master of the Templars. Having his headquarters in Tomar, the Order of Christ the driving force of the overseas expansion, the city assumed a especial role in Portugal. The old town, churches and chapels, palaces and festivals, ilustrate its importance.
Tomar is located just about 1.5 hour from Lisbon by car. Coming from North or South, the most direct route is with A1. At km94, you have the exit to the A23, follow the road until you see the indication take the IC3. 5-10 minutes later you will see a sign indicating the exit to take the N110. Follow around and within a few minutes you reach your destination.
Walking it is a small city.
There is also citybus, 3 lines, 0.85 €/ticket valid for 1.5 h. Touristic city bus a little city bus makes the tour, passing by the main touristic points of the city. (departure from Praça da Republica) (2.5 € adult; 1.5 € children) Tuk tuk - personalized tours, each tuk tuk can carry up to 3 people, always with a driver, from 8€ a trip. (meeting point: Praça da Republica)
Tomar is a small city but holds an important ancient past and some of the most important monuments in Portugal.
Convento de Cristo (Convent of Christ
Convento de Cristo and Castelo de Tomar, Entrance 6 € (children: free; 50% students and seniors) till 5 pm. / 6 pm. on summer - UNESCO World Heritage Sight, built in 12th century. After the Order of the Knights Templar was dissolved in the 14th century, the Portuguese branch of the order was turned into the Knights of the Order of Christ, which supported Portugal's maritime discoveries of the 15th century. The Templar Castle/Convent of Christ was seat of the Order of the Temple until 1314, and of the Order of Christ from 1357. Part of the castle (1160) is the late 12th century octagonal “Charola”, a Romanesque sanctuary of eastern influence. UNESCO classified this site as a World Heritage Monument in 1983. The initial building of the Convent is owed to Infante D. Henrique (1418) who, as well as building his court here, also built the washing and the cemetery cloisters. In the 1500’s another seven were added. Portuguese architecture is extremely well documented here: the Templar church/ rotunda in the castle is Romanesque; the Gothic is seen in the cloisters from the time of Infante D. Henrique; at the start of the 16th century, all the exuberance of the Manueline style is on show in the Chapter window; the Renaissance is seen in the alargement of the convent from D. João III until the 18th century; Mannerism and the Baroque leave their mark on the Hostel Cloister, the main one and on many ornaments. The intervention of D. João V can be seen in the pulpit, the altar, the chancel and the main sacristy.
Church of Santa Maria do Olival, it was built in the second half of the 12th century by the provincial master of the Order of the Knights Templar in Portugal, Gualdim Pais.
Church of S. João Baptista, Praça da República
Church of São João Baptista and Republica Square, this church was built in the end of the 15th century, marked as National Monument in 1910 and is in Republica Square where is Gualdim Pais statue.
Aqueduct of Pegões
Aqueduct of Pegões, (Quinta dos Pegões), it was built to deliever water to Convento de Cristo and has 6 km of extension. The construction started in 1593 and finished in 1614. The highest point of this aqueduct is 30 m above ground level. Take the small "train tour bus" in city center that takes you to the highest point. The easiest way to go to aqueduct is to follow the local road to Leiria.
Synagogue of Tomar Rua Dr. Joaquim Jacinto, 73 (open tuesday to sunday; free entrance) is the best preserved of the medieval synagogues of Portugal. It is located in the historic centre of the city of Tomar, and houses a small Jewish Museum.
Levada - Complex for temporary exhibitions.
"Levada (Weir)", Rua Everardo. During the 12th century the Templars build the "Açude dos Frades" (friars' weir), diverting part of the Nabão river - the so called "Levada". Water flowed under the olive oil presses and mills, through narrow tunnels. Those mills and presses were expanded and adapted throughout the centuries according the needs. The structure of the weir and channel, the buildings housing the former mills and olive oil presses and an electricity generating plant (dating from the beginning of the 20th century), organize now a days the re-qualified and rehabilitated site. The complex is destined to house temporary exhibitions and shows.
House of Cubes
"Casa dos Cubos" (house of Cubes) - Praceta Alves Redol - Originally designed as a storage and counting house of agricultural products to pay due rents to the religious orders, its name comes from the old capacity measures (bushel and almude) at the time commonly referred as "cubes". After its rehabilitation in 2007, it is now a days a cultural space of the city of Tomar. The uniqueness of its interior architecture makes this space a "must" to visit.
Nossa Senhora da Graça Church (Misericórdia) Av. Dr. Cândido Madureira - This church also known as Misericórdia, is a mannerist construction built in the second half of the 16th century. Of special interest si the niche which completes the elegant 16th century portico and the 16th century panel showing the Eucharistic miracle of Saint Anthony.
São Francisco Church and ConventAv. General Bernardo Faria - The São Francisco Convent in a mannerist building set around two cloisters. On the inside of the church, where a single nave is covered at great height by a barrel vault, are the sculptures of an extremely rare Calvary and the four pictorial representations of the life of the Virgin.
Santa Iria Chapel Rua Marquês de Pombal - The church of the legendary patron saint of Tomar has a remarkable stone Calvary and, in the panelled main chapel there is an elaborate decoration allusive to the symbols of the Holy Spirit.
São Gregório Chapel Largo Cândido dos Reis - A 16th century building with a circular design. Worthy of note is the rectangular manueline portal, which is soberly decorated and protected by a porch that goes round three sides of the chapel. The 18th century tile panels originally came from the Convento das Trinas in Lisbon.
Nossa Senhora da Conceição Chapel Estrada Dr. Vieira Guimarães - A small basilican church with three naves, built as a funeral chapel for D. João III, the king who ordered that it be built in 1547.
Nossa Senhora da Piedade Chapel Estrada Nova das Atalaias - On top of a hill you can find this Chapel; it was built in the 14th century and restored and modified in 1613. The blue and white chequered tiles are 17th century, and the terrace and steps mid 19th century.
Municipal Museum - Contemporary Art Centre Rua Gil de Avô; free entrance; opened from Wednesday to Sunday, 10am-pm, 2pm-6pm - The Contemporary Art Center was created in 2004 by donation of Professor José-Augusto França. The collection of paintings, sculptures, drawings and photographs covers a chronological arc extending from 1932 to the present. Modernism, Surrealism, Abstractionism, are present on works by portuguese artists.
Museum of Matches
Museum of Matches (Museu dos Fósforos), Av. Gen. Bernardo Faia, near railway station. Surprisingly nice exhibition of match boxes from all over the world. Open daily 2pm-5pm, free entrance.
The Luso-Hebrew Abraão Zacuto Museum (Synagogue) Rua Dr. Joaquim Jacinto, 73 (open tuesday to sunday; free entrance) This colletion in the Synagogue consists of gravestones, objects connected with Jewish Culture and religious items. Excavations carried out in the connecting room uncovered coins, household pottery and the heating system for heating water for the ritual "Mikva" bath.
Festa dos Tabuleiros, is a festival organized every 4 years during summer (beginning of July) Last one was in 2015. It an old tradition and in every event, Tomar becomes completely crowded and visitors can enjoy original decoration of streets, music concerts, traditional gastronomy and of course the main part of festival the trays parade. The main event consists of a parade of girls, carrying their trays on their head, accompained by a man. The tray she carries is made of 30 stacked pieces of bread, decorated with flowers. At the top of the tabuleiro is a crown topped either with a white dove, symbolising the Holy Spirit, or the "esfera armilar" a symbol of the historical Portuguese maritime expansion. During the time of the festivities, streets are decorated by the locals with hand made paper flowers. The first main event of "Festa dos tabuleiros" is the "Cortejo dos Rapazes" a procession of young girls carrying their "tabuleiro" on his head; similar to the main adult parade. The last event of "Festa dos tabuleiros" is the "Entrega do bodo" (delivery of the food), where food is being distributed to the most needy.
Medieval Parade at Festa Templária
Festa Templária (Templar Festival) (last weekend of may) - Recriation of medieval events: market (where you can buy local products), popular games, shows of sword fight, medieval music, medieval parade.
Festa de Santa Iria (Religious Festival) - In honor of the patron of the City (Santa Iria) runs from the Friday preceding the 20th of October until the Sunday following the same date, when the procession takes place - the highlight of the celebrations.
Nossa Senhora da Piedade (Religious Festival) - Held on first Sunday in September
Congress of Soups of Tomar - Second saturday of May. Held on Parque do Mouchão, you can eat as many soups as you wish for 5€, from 12am to 3pm. Typical soups like Fish soup, Bean soup, Suckling pig soup are some of the more then 40 varieties presented.
Festival Bons Sons (Cem Soldos) - One of the most popular Portuguese Music Festivals (annual from 2015 on), takes place the second weekend of august. During the Festival, the streets of the small village - Cem Soldos (about 5 km from Tomar) - will be closed to the festival; walking through the village streets you may find shops and works of new craftsmen, traditional and contemporary objects; stopping in its taverns and cafes or seeking the shade of the eaves, you may notice that locals receive visitors in an authentic community organization. Until now (2015) only portuguese artists and groups.
Tomarimbando - Festival de Percussão de Tomar (International Percussion Festival) - Takes place at end of July, includes workshops, and competition. Percussion instruments for 2016 edition: marimba, snare drum and vibraphone.
Feira da Laranja Conventual Orange Fair - Takes place on mid march at the Convento de Cristo. Oranges and all kind of products made with this fruit (jam, marmalade, pastry, sweets, liquor).
Mostra da Lampreia (Lamprey's show) - At the end of february and for about 2 weeks, most of the restaurants present in their menu typical dishes with lamprey (mainly the famous rice with lamprey).
Feira do Mel, Vinho e Marmelada Honey, Wine and Marmalade Fair (second weekend on november)
Cervejaria do Fernando - R. Silva Magalhães 47 - serves typical portuguese meals from lunchtime till midnight ~10 €. Open: Tu-Su: 10am-1am, closed on Mondays.
Restaurante Baía (são João Batista), Rua Doutor Joaquim Jacinto 118, 2300 Tomar, Portugal, ☎ 249 315 956. Open for lunch and from 17h00 to midnight. Portuguese food mainly meat and fish, vegetarian soup and salads.Inexpensive, big pan of arroz de peixe 22 euros for 2 persons. edit
Casa das Ratas - R Dr Joaquim Jacinto 6 - serves typical portuguese meals (price of meal/person 8-15€)
A Tasquinha da Mitas - Rua Alexandre Herculano N.1 - portuguese and international food (12-20 €)
Cafe Paraiso situated in the main street, the oldest bar in the city.
A Rosa - Café dos Artistas Praça da Republica n. 38 - good atmosphere, evenings on summer there are concerts (jazz, fado, etc.)
Cubos Café Praceta Alves Redol, tel.: 249 312 097 - nice café with a pleasant esplanade, in the same building as Casa dos Cubos, close to the river. Espresso (65 cent.), beer (from 1€), fresh drinks, wine, sandwiches, pastries.