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Tomar

Tomar is the third in the religious marvels that make up the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in this region, along with Batalha and Alcobaça. The Convento de Cristo is the masterpiece that was once headquarters to the Knights Templar.

The tow itself straddles the Rio Nabao and it worth a visit for its fine churches, Seven Hills National Forest, the Mata Nacional dos Sete Montes and the charming countryside along the Castelo de Bode reservoir.

Convento de Cristo

The Convento de Cristo is a rambling castle-style monastery set atop a wooded hill that was the headquarters of the legendary knights templar. The Knights Templar held enormous power from the 12th to the 16th centuries and financed a large proportion of the Portuguese Age of Discoveries. Enclosed in the 12th century walls, the Convento is everything you’d expect from a stronghold of the templar Knights Order, a theatrical, imposing testament to their strength and power. Open Jun-Sept 9am-6.30pm, Oct-May 9am-5.30pm. tel: 351 249 313 481

Gualdim Pais the Templers Grand Master founded the monastery. The various different chapels, cloisters and chapterhouses were added over a period by successive kings and Grand Masters hence the differing architectural styles throughout including Gothic, Manueline and Renaissance. There are two tours available to guide you through the history and architecture, a short route taking about forty five minutes and a more comprehensive ninety minute tour.

The sixteen sided Templar church is the Charola that dominates the monastery. The 12th century round was based on the Holy Sepulchre Church in Jerusalem. It is incredible inside with ceilings, colourful depictions, intricate carvings everywhere and Manueline sculptures peeking out from the columns. The two cloisters east of the Charola, Claustro do Cemitério and Clastro da Lavagem are beautiful decorated with blue and white azulejos. These were built at the time of Henry the Navigator when he was Grand Master in the 15th century. The chapterhouse is a celebration of Manueline intricacy as well as the Ages of Discoveries that the famous window on the western side depicts with ropes twisting around each other, seaweed, boats below the Order of Christ Cross and the royal arms and armillary spheres of Dom Manuel.

Tomar Town

On the way down from the monastery are several churches including Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Conceição, a pure Renaissance basilica built in the 16th century and Igreja de são João Baptista, the old town’s most striking church that dates from the 15th century with its octagonal spire and fabulously ornamented Manueline doorway.

The town has several museums including a contemporary art museum.

Contemporary Art Museum
Address: Rua Gil de Avo.
Open Oct-Mar, Wed-Sun 12am to 5 pm. Apr-Sept Wed-Sun 10am to 7pm.
Tel: 249 329814

Fax: 249 329811

E-mail:
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Museu dos Fósforos

Address: Av. General Bernardo Faria with 40.000 matchboxes – the largest collection on Europe. Open daily 10am-5pm
Free admission
Tel: 249 329814

Fax: 249 329811

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Museu Hebraico Abraao Zacuto
Address: Rua Dr. Joaquim Jacinto, nº 73
Open daily 10am-1pm and 2-6pm, the admission is free.
Tel: 249 329814
Fax: 249 329811

E-mail:
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The tourist information office is on the east side of town on Avenida Dr. Candido Madureira.
Open in winter 10am-1pm and 2-6pm
Summer 10am-7pm
Sat, Sun and holidays 10am-1pm and 2-6pm
Tel: 351 249 329 823
Fax: 351 249 322 427
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Tomar has plenty of cafes and restaurants, particularly arount Avenida Dr. Candido Madureira and around the Vareza Grande. The riverside is also popular on summer evenings. The train and bus station are on Avenida Combatentes da Grande Guerra and are within easy walking from the centre. They are pretty strict with parking restrictions in Tomar but there is free parking in Varzea Grande beside the bus station.

Countryside, National Forest and Adventure Activities

The countryside around Tomar is well worth exploring. Right next to the town is the Seven Hills National Forest, Mata Nacional dos Sete Montes. As a National Forest it is open to the public to wander though an is a mix of planted trees and gardens, native woodland and places of interest including parks, historic monuments and of course the Convento de Cristo and the Aqueduct of Pegões, an impressive aqueduct that was from 1593 to 1613 to supply water to the monastery. It has 18 arches and its two storey in places. It is been seen just off the Leiria road just over 2 kilometers from the town. Another popular area for walking and the stunning views in the reservoir and hydroelectric dam at Castelo de Bode - a deep wooded river valley thought where the river Zezere flows. The reservoir is popular for water sports including water skiing, jet skiing and canoeing.

Local activity companies also offer trekking, cycling and mountain biking, canoeing, rock climbing and parachuting. The Rio Nabao is popular for canoeing.
Via Aventura
Address: Rua Marques de Pombal 2
Tel / Fax: 351 249 324 464
1000 Léguas
Tel: 351 249 324 807
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For horse riding, contact Coudelaria Ruy Escudeiro, Tel: 351 249 314 371, three kilometers from Tomar.

Restaurants

A Bela Vista
Address: Rua Marques de Pombal nº6, 2300
Tel: 351 249 312 870
This restaurant has beautiful views to the Castle and river Nabao, is situated right next door to the old bridge. Main courses like fish stew go down a treat. The flowered terrace exudes even more atmosphere during the summer months.
Closed Monday evening

Calca Perra Taj
Address: Rua Pedro Dias 59, 2300-589
Tel: 351 249 321 616
Located in the gardens of a 16th century house, this is Tomar’s first Indian restaurant. The owner is from Kerala and his menu of spicy dishes includes a choice of chicken and lamb vindaloo and biriani options. Be sure to try the lassi de mango – mango milkshake Indian style.

Chico Elias
Address: Rua Principal 70, Algarvias 2300-302
Tel: 351 249 311 067
Family-run restaurent on the old road to Torres Vedras, is situated 2km south of Tomar. The traditional recipes demand that much of the food be oven baked, and the chef is a dab hand at producing dishes like Rabbit with pumpkin.
Book in advance and you can request a particular mean when doing so.
Open from 12am to 3.30pm and from 6 to 10pm.
Tel / Fax: 351 249 311 067