Tomar Castle (Portugal)

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The medieval castle
The operation of a fortification to complement the defensive line of access by Santarém to the then capital, Coimbra, after a year in the ruined Castelo de Cera, the Master of the Order of the Templars in Portugal, D. Gualdim Pais, son of Paio Ramires, decided to build a new castle, in a more appropriate place, and that it would become the seat of the Order in the country.

It is not known with certainty the reason that led to the option for Tomar, instead of the reform of the castle of Wax. Some scholars claim that the new site, on a hill on the right bank of the river Tomar (now Nabão), dominating a plain, was strategically more advantageous. Others argue that the site was chosen considering its position in the line that, in relation to the Paris Meridian, forms a 34 ° angle, common in the architectural designs of the Order, corresponding to the diagonal of the 2/3 relation observed in the constellation of Gemini , one of the Templar symbols.

In any case, the construction of the Castle of Tomar began on March 1, 1160, according to epigraphic inscription on its walls. At the same time, the construction of the Charola was begun, later adapted to Main Chapel, one of the most important Templar buildings in the West.

In view of the commitment to promote the settlement of the region, D. Gualdim Pais granted the first charter to the territory of Tomar as early as 1162, a document later confirmed in 1174. In 1165 the Order also received the domains of Idanha and Monsanto, promised in 1169, a third of the lands they would conquer south of the Tagus River. The following year (1170), the so-called Tagus Line was reinforced with the construction of the Castle of Almourol.

Two decades later, under the reign of King Sancho I (1185-1211), the counter-offensive of the Almohad Caliphate of 1190 under the command of the caliph Abu Yusuf Ya'qub al-Mansur, after reconquering the Castle of Silves and the Algarve , advanced to the North conquering, successively, the castles of Alcácer do Sal, Palmela and Almada (1190-1191). He then crossed the Tagus Line, surrounding Santarém, destroying Torres Novas and Abrantes until reaching Tomar, who, under successive robberies, resisted for six days defended by the Templars, breaking the impetus of the invader. On this occasion the Moors forced the south gate and entered the outer fence. The Templar's defense was so fierce that the assault door became known as the Gate of Blood.

Before the extinction of the Order by Pope Clement V (1312), king D. Dinis (1279-1325) cautioned the possession of her goods in the kingdom. To better manage them, he created the Order of Our Lord Jesus Christ (1321), initially based in Castro Marim, in the Algarve, transferring the patrimony of the former Order. A few years later, however, the seat of the new order was transferred to Tomar (c.1338).

The Infante D. Henrique, as Governor of the Order of Christ, will have had residence in the Castle of Tomar. Later, the castle was the object of the attention of D. Manuel (1495-1521) and D. João III (1521-1557) through works of restoration and reinforcement, when the Convent of Christ was enlarged. By order of the first, the intra-muros population was forced to transfer to the village, by the river (1499); Later, in the first half of the sixteenth century, the Queen's Paços were enlarged and the works were developed in the northern sense, between the Charola and the Alcáçova.

From the seventeenth century to our days
The information about this defensive set is scarcely available: in 1618, the North-West tower was demolished to widen the entrance to the castle, which has been relatively well preserved in our days.

The town of Tomar was elevated to the category of city by alvará of D. Maria II (1826-1828 and 1834-1853), 13 of February of 1844.

The castle is classified as a National Monument by Decree published on June 23, 1918, and as a World Heritage Site, by the General Assembly of UNESCO from June 27 to 30, 1983.

In 1973 restoration work was carried out on the adarve floor on the section of the wall between the Porta do Sol and the Queen's Tower and, more recently, in 1986, work to consolidate the walls near the Porta do Sangue.

Images of the castle

Useful infos

Latitude: 39.603554
Longitude: -8.417680
See the map
See the images

Map of Tomar Castle