Groups accepted with a minimum of 6 pax.
Tomar, our home for the week, was nominated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and rightly so. Lying on the margins of the tranquil river Nabão, Tomar as well as the surrounding areas, displays some of the most significant and magnificent monuments in the entire country. A true feast for the senses…
Nowadays, the region vibrates history, luxurious gardens, wonderful monasteries, castles and other sites that link directly to the Knights Templar, Europe’s most pivotal medieval societies.
At the top of the hill standing alone above the town since the 12th century, the dramatic Convento de Cristo or “Convent of Christ”, was for 900 years the Headquarters of the Knights Templar of Portugal – the mediaeval warrior monks. From here, their influence spread across Europe.
Founded in Jerusalem in 1118, the religious order’s history is intertwined with the foundation of Portugal and the crusades against the moors. Their military support granted them prime sites of castles and land, primarily sited around the Tomar region.
Despite their fearsome and battle-hardened reputation, the Knights Templar were learned men, dedicated to protecting travellers and pilgrims of all religions, not just Christians. They were great statesmen, politically adept, economic traders, and they were apparently allied with the great sailor-fraternity that had created a worldwide trading empire in Phoenician times.
Castelo almourol by boat
It should be noted that many Portuguese explorers and royalty were Knights Templar and later Masons. Many believe that the Portuguese Knights Templar were instrumental in Portugal acquiring its transatlantic colony, Brazil.
Just after 1492, with the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, the town of Tomar expanded further with the influx of Jewish refugee artisans and traders. The very large Jewish minority dynamized the city with new trades and skills. Their experience was vital in the success of the new trade routes with Africa. The original synagogue (the oldest in Portugal), whose building was ordered by the Infante Dom Henrique (Henry the Navigator), still stands.
This tour was designed for lovers of history, culture, and tradition. You will visit some of the most important historical Knights Templar locations in the world.
But it will be much more than just visiting castles and abbeys. We will also show you the marvellous countryside and enjoy great food and wine!
There is much to see, but there will be plenty of time to relax as well! Our intention is that you will have the experience of a life time.
And as they say: “Once seen, never forgotten…”
Day 1 – Arrival to Lisbon airport
On arrival at Lisbon Airport we will have a private coach transfer to Tomar.
Depending on our arrival time, a short introductory walk around town will be offered.
Free time until the evening meeting and dinner.
Day 2 – Tomar
The day will be dedicated to the town that will welcome us for the week. A morning introductory walk in the centre will allow us to pass the main monuments and points of interest. After lunch we’ll make our way to the town’s “Piece de Resistance”: “The Convent of Christ”. Built as a Templar stronghold in the 12th century, it still reminds us today of the power, knowledge, sacrifice and history of one of the most famous religious order of all times – The Knight’s Templars.
Within a short drive’s distance, we’ll have time to enjoy the views and the engineering prowess of the “Pegões Aqueduct”, a 6km long aqueduct built on the 16th century during the “Phillipine Dinasty”, to supply water for the convent.
From here and for those that wish to use the time relaxing by the pool or visiting Tomar’s special downtown atmosphere, our private coach will bring them down to the hotel.
Should you wish to walk, an optional stroll will be offered alongside the aqueduct (as much as possible) through the gentle countryside, descending into town and the hotel.
Distance: 2km/1.2mi; ascent/descent: +-67m
Day 3 – Serra de Aires Natural Park
Today we visit the Serra de Aires Natural Park. This range of limestone hills is home to fantastic cave formations and we will visit the best.
The “Santo António Caves” where discovered in the 1950’s by a small boy that decided to follow a bird and saw it disappear through a deep hole in the ground. Seventy years later, we are now privileged to witness a part of our planet’s geological wonders.
After lunch, we’ll walk the trails down the valley below the caves taking us through quaint villages, shady paths and superb scenery as the valley opens out.
Distance: 5km/3mi; ascent/descent: +98m/-74m
Day 4 – Tejo Valley
Amongst the middle reaches of the longest Iberian Peninsula river, on a small picturesque and picture perfect rugged island, there’s one of the most beautiful medieval military monuments in the country: the “Almourol Castle”.
Using a traditional boat to ferry us to this enigmatic island, we will have time to explore and visit this 12th century structure, where we’ll enjoy some of the best views of the week.
Back on dry land, we follow Tanco’s shore line towards the delightful garden of Vila Nova da Barquinha, a public garden and an open door gallery of modern sculptures from some of the most respected national artists.
Just near the garden and at the end of the walk, a visit to the Templar Interpretation Centre is included.
Distance: 4km/2.5mi; ascent/descent: flat
Day 5 – Batalha Abbey & Alcobaça Abbey
The day comprises a time travel visit through the Portuguese history and its glorious buildings.
The “Batalha Monastery”, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Europe’s greatest Gothic masterpieces, was born out of a promise of gratitude for a won battle that granted Portugal its independence. During the 150 years that it took to be built, the initial project was subjected to numerous changes that resonate the evolution of architectural styles, from the exclusively Portuguese “Manueline Style” to the Renaissance techniques.
After lunch, a visit to “Alcobaça Monastery” a 12th century UNESCO World Heritage Site. This colossal complex was originally given to St Bernard of Clairvaux the main reformer of the Cistercian Order and built to reflect the “White Monks” principles: austerity, prayer, penitence, hard labor and constant silence, alongside the ones in need. This monastery is also the burial site of Portugal’s most famous royal lovers and their tragic history – “Pedro and Inês”.
Day 6 – Nabão River
Named after “Nabia” – the pagan goddess of rivers and water – the “Nabão River” is a 60km river with luxuriant riverbanks that runs from the northern village of Ansião to the south, eventually flowing into the Zêzere River.
Our walk this morning follows the margins of the river and, at times, our route coincides with the Portuguese Caminho de Santiago.
Later we’ll visit a nearby winery where there’ll be a tour through the winery and wine cellar, with some disclosure of the secrets behind the art of making wine. This visit also includes a wine tasting.
Distance: 6.3km/3.9mi; ascent/descent: flat
Day 7 – Ourém
A day dedicated to the medieval village of Ourém.
This remarkable hilltop village nestled within ancient walls is topped with a dramatic castle whose origins go back to Moorish times. We will have a guided tour of the village and castle after which we have time to relax in the local café and enjoy the views over the immense landscapes below.
Day 8 – Departure
Transfer to Lisbon airport.
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