20 Jun Tomar, visiting the Templar Knights
Day 97 – 99 (14 /16 Jun 2013) – We have a short scenic ride to get to Tomar, where we are taking an official down day, to see an extraordinary castle and convent. We also plan on starting our journey within the journey in this town.
Tomar was the last stronghold and headquarters of the Templar Knights. The Convento Christo must be one of the most amazing buildings we have ever visited, so why not start the El Camino de Santiago in this special place.
The first day in town we just check out the village and some of the old churches. A very nice man watching over the Santa Maria dos Olivais–an old Templar’s church–is full of information and tells us all about the symbolism. He points out that everything is arranged in eights, such as columns, windows, stairs….. and he explains how this church differs from most of the other churches. He also tells us a little about Pias, the founder of Tomar and a Templar Knight himself.
We planned on going to the Convento de Christo to get our credentials for the El Camino, unfortunately the lady at the office states they do not have them or simply did not understand what we wanted. However, we found out the admission to the Convento would be free the next day (Sundays), so we decided to come back again the next day to check it out.
We thought it would only take a short while to visit the building…how wrong we were!
It took us a few hours to make it through the complex building. The initial Templar Church was a spectacular sight. The church, like some other templar churches throughout Europe, was modeled after the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, which was believed by the crusaders to be a remnant of the Temple of Solomon. The sheer size of its interior, the attention to detail in its décor, the colors, and paintings are mind-boggling.
From there we followed a maze of rooms, the kitchen, dining halls, chapels, convents, over several stories high.
Every corner we turned revealed some more surprises. We notice that many things are still arranged in numbers of 8 and some of the symbolism is present here as well.
Also, the Manueline window is considered one of the most beautiful windows in Europe.
Unfortunately, the pictures do not do the place any justice. If you ever make it into this part of the world make sure to visit Tomar and all of its Templar Knight sights.
Today was also our lucky day, not only did we get to see an amazing place for free, but we also managed to find our Credentials for the El Camino de Santiago today at the Convento. Fortunately, another lady worked at the exit office of the Convento today, so we figured we’d ask again, and after some explaining of what we are looking for, she pulled out a binder behind the counter with the Santiago Credentials.
We could not have found a better fitting place to start getting our Sellos (stamps) then right here at the Convento.
So the new Journey begins…
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