is one of the country's historic jewels and played
integral parts in Portuguese history.
The town's skyline is
dominated by the Knight Templar castle (Castelo
Templário) and today revels in the
history surrounding this most secretive of religious
Situated about 100 kilometres
north of Portugal's capital
was given it's official charter in 1162.
The original medieval town of Tomar
was born inside the walls of the historic castle,
Gualdim de Pais,
the fourth master of the Knights Templar. However it was
not long before the growing population meant the town
spilled outside of the castle to the shores of the
which cuts the modern day town in two. This historic
centre of the town to the west of the
with the new town located on the east, each given
district names - Santa Maria dos Olivais (east) and Sao
Joao Batista (west) after the churches located on either
side of the river.
Corredoura (the corredor)
Palácio de Dom Manuel I
The historic centre of
constructed on a grid pattern, where the streets are
cobbled in marble, interspersed with Templar crosses.
The streets are traditionally narrow and ensures even in
the midday summer sun there is always somewhere shady to
walk while you discover the delights Tomar has to offer.
The Corredoura (Rua Serpa
Pinta) is perhaps the exception to this rule. This
pedestrianised street, which leads from the
to the Praca da Republica. Legend has it the Templar
Knights utilised this street to practise their jousting
and thus gave it the name 'Corredoura'. During the
spring and summer months in Tomar this cobbled boulevard
is a hub for tourists and locals alike sipping cooling
drinks in the many cafes which line it.
Castelo Templário and
the UNESCO listed Convento do Cristo, sits a top the
hill dominating the skyline of Tomar and is visible from
just about every location in the town. For many towns in
Portugal this auspicious link to the Knights Templar
would be enough to secure their place in the history
books, however Tomar plays further in the history of
this small Iberian country.
It was perhaps the intrigue
of the Knights Templar which drew the royalty of
Portugal to this town.
King Manuel I chose to reside in Tomar,
having a palace constructed opposite the
Igreja São João Batista
in the Praça de República in the early 16th century. The
Palácio de Dom Manuel still stands and now serves as
offices for the council following extensive renovation
works carried out in 1997.
Perhaps infamously Tomar
was the location chosen for the crowning of the King
Felipe I of Portugal (Felipe II of Spain) in 1580. The
coronation signified the rule of
given back to Spain. The coronation took place
in the Chapterhouse of the
Convento do Cristo.
Ponte Velha & Rio Nabão
Tourist Information Office
these many links to the past though
is a cosmopolitan town with many boutique style shops,
high quality restaurants, indoor and outdoor swimming
pools, parks, tennis courts, modern art galleries and a
catalogue of festivals and outdoor events throughout the
most renowned festival in Tomar
Festa dos Tabuleiros,
which is only held once every four years.
town of Tomar
to the east of the River Nabão is stark contrast to the
historic centre. Wide tree lined boulevards help
camouflage the sprawl of apartment buildings, schools,
supermarkets, health centres and hospital. Perhaps the
oldest building in the new town is the Praca dos Touros
(bull ring), which does seem strangely out of place.
is not a large town, though to ensure you maximise your
visit, the local town council operates a 'tourist
train', which wends it's way through the narrow streets
around the town's historic and important monuments
during the summer months.
arrives and departs from the Praça de República.
One sight not to be missed
is the weekly market where everything you could imagine
is available from fruit, vegetables, nuts, fish and meat
through to hardware, soft furnishings, chickens, birds,
trees and clothes. There is a daily market situated next
However each Friday the large car parks adjacent turn
into a mini tented city with stall holders from all over
the region setting up shop to sell their wares. The air
is thick with the smell of 'bifanas' (pork sandwiches)
as the temporary catering units fire up their barbecues.
Whether you want your knives sharpened, a
grill for your barbecue making by the local blacksmith
or a tractor or you just simply want to soak up the
atmosphere a visit to the market makes for an enjoyable
day out. It is certainly a social occasion for most
locals who visit.
Visit Tomar, central Portugal
Although visiting Tomar
in central Portugal is a
joy most times of the year, perhaps one of the best
times would be when celebrating the renowned
Festa dos Tabuleiros.
The festival is celebrated only once every four years
and attracts hundreds of thousands of people from around
Festa dos Tabuleiros
is scheduled to take place between 2nd and 11th July
2011 so if you haven't already booked your accommodation
yet, it is advisable to do it soon.
relatively easy to access and has good road links from
Lisbon as well as a punctual train and bus service.
From Lisbon: Tomar
is approximately 137 kilometres north of Portugal's
capital, Lisbon. The easiest route if you are driving is
by taking the A1 toll road, cutting off onto the A23,
then following signage for Tomar onto the IC3.
From Porto: Porto is
slightly further from Tomar, taking around two and a
half hours' by car (183 kilometres).
By Train: The train
line which runs into the centre of Tomar is a district
line, therefore if you are travelling from Lisbon it is
sometimes necessary to change trains at Entroncamento. A
short taxi drive ten minutes north of Tomar though there
is the mainline station of Fatima (not in the town of
the same name) which has regular trains to Lisbon and