Tomar

Overview

Introduction

The hillside centerpiece of the small town of Tomar, Portugal, is the 12th-century castle built by the crusading Order of the Knights Templar and the later monastery built around it. The entire complex is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Charola, a 16-sided structure surrounding a gilt octagon, served as the knights' oratory. Several cloisters were added to the complex at different stages, most of them reflecting the power and prestige of the Order of Christ (successor to the Knights Templar order) and its role during the age of exploration.

Also worth seeing in Tomar is one of the oldest synagogues in Portugal, dating back to 1430 but last used as a place of worship in 1496, when the Jews were expelled from the country by Manuel I. It now houses a small Jewish museum. On a brighter note, the largest collection of matchboxes in Europe can be seen at the Museu dos Fosforos.

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