A DAY TRIP TO CONVENTO DE CRISTO E CASTELO DE TOMAR
Tomar along with many of the other day trips we took was definitely on my bucket list. When I realised I had a lot of nature attractions and fewer historic and cultural places to visit, I was super excited to add Tomar to our itinerary. I was especially looking forward to seeing it’s amazing World Heritage Site: Convento de Cristo (Convent of Christ) and Castelo dos Templarios (Castle of Knights Templar) otherwise known as Castelo de Tomar. The Castle is considered one of the most important Portuguese military buildings of the 12th century.
These attractions are huge so took some time exploring so we didn’t get to explore the rest of Tomar which was a bit of a shame. The castle and convent is located at the top of a steep hill so we took the car and parked in one of the car parks. There is a nice cafe located next to the car park and there is also a courtyard cafe and gift shop inside the castle and convent grounds. The entry cost is only €6 for an adult and 50% off for students. This price covered both the castle and convent. For €15 you can also visit the nearby monasteries/other attractions which we did not do. There was no queue at the ticket booth and it was extremely quiet when we visited. The castle and convent are combined and not 2 separate attractions you have to visit as the castle walls wrap around the convent. We only saw about 10 other people in the whole place so it was like we had a private secluded self guided tour which was surreal. There is a car park next to the castle but we parked in one around the corner for a cost of €2 as we didn’t realise that there was parking closer to the castle. Many people were parked along the roadside on the descend up the hill which is free. There is a lovely park at the bottom of the hill but we couldn’t find anywhere to stop and safely park the car so didn’t venture inside.
The castle built by the Knights Templar is truly a hidden treasure and is set in beautiful aromatic gardens. You can walk around the castle for free but I recommend you go inside. There is so much to see and every corner will take your breath away. The medieval buildings incorporate a mix of Portuguese Manueline architecture (sometimes also called late or flamboyant Portuguese Gothic), Renaissance, Baroque, and hints of other styles. The structures and carvings are extremely detailed and will truly amaze you, the tiles, stonework, woodwork, monuments, arches, spiral staircases, cloisters, glorious paintings and gardens are spectacular and such a treasure to view. I am not a history buff by any means but this place is a mixture of cultural and historical mysteries and absolutely epic! I got so enthralled with looking upwards at the ceilings as usual, I tripped over a roped off section with metal bollards and caused a dramatic scene and the staff member guarding the area seemed very unimpressed. My usual accident prone self, you can’t take me anywhere (ha ha). I used the toilets in the convent which have obviously been restored but I thought it was cool that I had a pee in a toilet inside of a convent with all that history!
After the delights of Tomar we headed for the famous Agroal river beach for a well deserved dip in the water. There is a separate post and photo gallery for this wonderful river beach. I am really glad that I added Tomar to our itinerary and it was only a 1 hr 45 mins drive. The castle is truly magical and a real jewel in the crown. It made a pleasant change from all our nature adventures.