Convent of Christ, Tomar, Portugal
The monastery of Tomar, also called the Convent of Christ is no less than a masterpiece! The building is a unique combination of church, fortress, castle and convent. The design and details speaks volumes of the architects’ brilliance! To name just one most marvel work here would be difficult, yet I will say the exterior view of north window of the church is something which should not be missed. There are other stunning marvels too!
History of Convent of Christ, Tomar
Foundation to this military monument dates back to 1159 AD. The medieval town of Tomar was established on land granted by the first King of Portugal to Knights Templar. They played the crucial role in gaining independence for Portugal in 1190 AD. It was the seat of power for Knights Templar till 13th century. The castle also played the role of defending the land from Moors. In 1319, the Templar Order was dissolved and Pope John XXII instituted Order of Christ. The round church here was built in second half of 12th century; it is believed to be modeled on The Church of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem.
This famous round church (rotunda) of the Convent of Tomar was built in the second half of the 12th century.The entrance has abundant Manueline motifs and statues of the Virgin with the Child as well as the Prophets of the Old Testament.
During the 14th and 15th centuries many additions and modifications were done the monuments. Two cloisters, the Chapel of São Jorge sometime in 1426, sacristy that connected the choir to the Chapel of São Jorge, the convent was expanded (1492), the chapterhouse, main altar, ironworks for the niche/archway, paintings and sculptures (for the same) and the choir were all expanded or remodeled during this period. Manuel I rebuild gothic nave of Henry the navigator in a new style which was a mix of gothic and renaissance. This style came to be known as Manueline style of architecture.
During 1581 to 1640 the Kingdoms of Portugal and Spain were united. In 1810 this convent was converted to barracks, causing a lot of damage to the monument. Convent of Christ, Tomar was included in UNESCO World heritage list.
What to see!
What I got to see inside this Convent of Christ, Tomar made me happy that I was wise to visit this place. As I entered the complex, the church of Convent of Christ was sighted first. (Topmost picture.) We were the first tourists there for the day. And for a good part of the tour we didn’t find any other tourist. We had a brief interaction with the ticketing officials too.
The famous chapter house window in west facade, made by Diogo de Arruda in 1510-1513.More pictures in next part…