In 1983 UNESCO declared a unique jewel in the history of the West to be a "World Heritage monument": the Templar Castle and Convent of the Knights of Christ of Tomar. Built upon a site of Roman cult, this vast monumental complex is the testimony of seven centuries of the History of Portugal and of great moments in the History of the Western civilisation.
Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, donated a vast region between the Mondego and Tejo rivers to the Knights of the Temple of Jerusalem. Legend has it that in 1160, the knights who arrived in the region chose a hill to build a castle and gave it the name Tomar.
In 1314, the Order of the Temple was abolished due to the persecutions of Philip the Fair, King of France. Thanks to the will of King Dom Dinis, the people, possessions and privileges were completely integrated into a new order in 1319 - the Militia of the Knights of Christ, which, together with Prince Henry the Navigator, would support the Portuguese nation in the maritime discoveries of the 15th and 16th centuries. Tomar Castle became a Convent and headquarters of the Order and Henry The Navigator its Governor and perpetual Administrator.
Thus, the Convent of Christ's architecture as a whole bears witness to Romanesque art, with the Knights Templar; Gothic and Manueline art with the Discoveries, Renaissance art during the Reformation of the Order; then Mannerism and finally the Baroque in architectural ornaments.
The round-plan temple built by the Templars is based on the church that Emperor Constantine built on the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Over time, the huge convent developed around the Templar church, where it is worth noting the four large cloisters, the Order's Infirmary and the 6-kilometre long Pegões Aqueduct built by the Spanish King Philip III.
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