One day in July, we decided to head away from the Portuguese coast and visit Tomar, a small town located on the banks of the river "Rio Nabão". The old of Tomar is very attractive, the Rio Nabão cascades down a waterfall, abundant fish joyfully playing in the clear water.
Tomar has a rich history. This beautiful Portuguese town was the last Templar town commissioned for construction and would become a center of Portuguese overseas expansion under Henry the Navigator in the 15th Century.
The old town has a grid of cobbled streets, along them some shopfronts nicely decorated with tiles. On this particular Saturday, a medieval festival was taking place around the Parque Do Mouchao, located on a small river island connected by 2 foot bridges.
We crossed the Ponte Welha across the Rio Nabao and took the Rua Serpa towards the Praca Da Republica.
Tomar's main attraction is the Convento do Cristo, which overlooks the town from it's strategic location on top of a hill. It was founded in 1160 and served as the headquarters of the order of the Knights Templar, but this building deserves it's own blog at a later stage.
From the town centre, you can walk up to the Convent through the Sete Montes Woods along a winding path. Climbing higher, you are treated to spectacular views across Tomar.
Halfway along the path is the Nossa Senhora da Conceicao chapel, a small chapel built by Joao de Castilho.
Once we reached the Praca da Republica, we couldn't but notice the amazing 17th Century buildings around the square.
The highest building here is the Igreja de Sao Joao Baptista, a church with a destinctive octagonal belltower and a sculpted doorway in Manueline style. Inside the church, there are several panels painted by Gregorio Lopes, one of Portugal's most significant 16th Century artists. Inside the church was a tabuleiros on display. This is a headpiece which the town girls carry on their head during Festa dos Tabuleiros, an ancient tradition in Tomar and the most important festival celebrated in the city.
The tabuleiro is made of 30 stacked pieces of bread, either in 6 rows of 5 or 5 rows of 6, all beautifully decorated with flowers on top. At the top is a crown which is normally decorated with either a white dove or the esfera armilar, a symbol linked to the Portuguese maritime exploration.
With the sun making an appearance, a refreshing drink in the small square was on order. Afterwards, we had a look at the statue of Tomar's founding father, Gualdim Pais before we travelled to our next destination.
About the Author
We are Peter & Dolores De Bie. We love the great outdoors, discovering new parts of the world and writing about our adventures along the Wild Atlantic Way and further afield