History

Burg Lahneck – Centuries of warfare, tragedy, executions, and poetry come together in this 13th-century fortress

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FROM ITS ORIGINAL CONSTRUCTION IN 1226, all the way up through the 20th century, Burg Lahneck has experienced many notable events that have led to it’s intriguing tale including several wars, political unrest, the tragic death of a young noble. The castle even inspired the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

The castle was built at the confluence of the Lahn and Rhine rivers by Siegfried III of Eppstein in order to protect the town of Oberlahnstein and a nearby silver mine. In subsequent years the castle became the setting for several battles and political strife. In 1309, the castle was stormed by King Albert I of Habsburgs after the Burgrave of Lahneck, Friedrich Schilling of Lahnstein who occupied the castle, participated in a conspiracy against Albert. Albert’s forces storming of the castle was successful, and Schilling was executed at the castle for his part in the conspiracy. 

Another event of note would be the slaying of the last Knights Templar warriors. When Pope Clement V demanded the Knights Templar disband in 1312, the legend goes that the last 12 Templars barricaded themselves within the confines of Burg Lahneck. All perished in a desperate fight against the overwhelming forces of Mainz Archbishop Peter of Aspelt.

Several centuries later, in 1633 during the Thirty Years War, the castle was assaulted and left in relative ruin by the passing Swedish and imperial troops.

Burg Lahneck also holds a note of literary importance as it is was the inspiration for Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s poem, “Geistesgruß” or “Ghost Greetings”. It is said Goethe felt the need to pen the poem after spotting the castle during his travels along the river Lahn on July 8, 1774.

Goethe’s poem however, is not the only event concerning the castle that is remembered in writing. In June of 1851, a Scottish family visited the area of Burg Lahneck on holiday with their 17-year-old daughter, Idilia Dubb. The story goes that Idilia went out to sketch the Rhine river valley and its surroundings to keep as a keepsake when they returned to Scotland. In search of a breathtaking vantage point of the valley, Idilia entered the abandoned Lahneck Castle and climbed the wooden staircase to the top of the castle’s keep. Unfortunately, due to countless battles which left the castle in ruins and the lack of repair or upkeep, the wooden staircase leading to the top of the keep collapsed once Idilia reached the top. She was now trapped at the top of the ruined castle, and due to the high walls surrounding her, her cries for help were unable to be heard by anyone in the vicinity. Her family searched for her, but to no-avail, and eventually returned to Scotland. Nearly 10 years later in 1860, German workers repairing the castles keep found Idia’s skeletal remains at the top of the castle. It is said that her diary was found next to her body, documenting her trip to the area and the last moments of her life in the ruined castles keep. 

 Historians have been skeptical about the validity of the diary, however that has not prevented it from being printed in mass publication in 2002 under the title “Das verschwundene Mädchen : die Aufzeichnungen der Idilia Dubb”  or “The Missing Girl: The Records of Idilia Dubb.”

in atlasobscura.com

III International Conference “Order of the Temple – Spiritual Chivalry – Templarism”.

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The Templar Interpretation Center of Almourol (CITA) of Vila Nova da Barquinha promoted, on the weekend of November 13th and 14th, the III International Conference “Order of the Temple – Spiritual Chivalry – Templarism”.

The municipal auditorium hosted some of the best national and international experts on the subject, with speakers from countries such as Spain, the United States, Croatia and Portugal: Luis de Matos (Chancellor of OSMTHU), Carlos Trincão (Teacher and member of TREF), Álvaro Barbosa (Architect and former director of Convento de Cristo), Virgílio Alves (Philosopher and Senior Technician in Public Administration), João Pedro Silva (Researcher and member of OSMTHU), Ernesto Alves Jana (Historian and member of TREF), Jefferson Perry (former -military), José Miguel Navarro (OSMTHU’s Senescal expert in security systems), Lovro Tomasinec (Croatian Order of Knights Templar OSMTH) and Manuel J. Gandra (CITA Researcher and Curator).

The book “Almourol – 850th anniversary of its foundation, in the context of the Order of the Temple in Portugal”, was launched at the event.

Fernando Freire, Mayor of the City Council, and Paula Pontes, Councilor for the Department of Culture, were present at the conference. The initiative also featured the musical animation of Fernando Espanhol, in a medieval music moment.

The Almourol Templar Interpretation Center is the first of its kind in Portugal. It has a permanent exhibition room, a space for temporary exhibitions and a projection room for films on the theme of the Templars. The Library – Templar Archives is also located in the same building, which has a vast literary collection dedicated to this theme, the result of donations from Teresa Furtado and Manuel J. Gandra.

Centro de Interpretação Templário de Almourol; Largo 1.º Dezembro; 2260-403 Vila Nova da Barquinha Tel.: 249720358E-mail: cita@cm-vnbarquinha.pt

III Conferência Internacional “Ordem do Templo – Cavalaria Espiritual – Templarismo”

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O Centro de Interpretação Templário de Almourol (CITA) de Vila Nova da Barquinha promoveu, no fim de semana de 13 e 14 de novembro, a III Conferência Internacional “Ordem do Templo – Cavalaria Espiritual – Templarismo”.

O auditório municipal acolheu alguns dos maiores especialistas nacionais e internacionais na temática, com oradores oriundos de países como Espanha, Estados Unidos, Croácia e Portugal: Luis de Matos (Chanceler da OSMTHU), Carlos Trincão (Professor e membro do TREF), Álvaro Barbosa (Arquiteto e ex-diretor do Convento de Cristo), Virgílio Alves (Filósofo e Técnico Superior na Administração Pública), João Pedro Silva (Investigador e membro da OSMTHU), Ernesto Alves Jana (Historiador e membro do TREF), Jefferson Perry (ex-militar), José Miguel Navarro (Senescal da OSMTHU perito em sistemas de segurança), Lovro Tomasinec (Croatian Order of Knights Templar O.S.M.T.H.) e Manuel J. Gandra (Investigador e Curador do CITA).

O evento foi marcado pelo lançamento do livro “Almourol – 850.º aniversário da sua fundação, no contexto da Ordem do Templo em Portugal”, efeméride que se assinala este ano.

Marcaram presença na conferência Fernando Freire, Presidente da Câmara Municipal, e Paula Pontes, Vereadora do Pelouro da Cultura. A iniciativa contou ainda com a animação musical de Fernando Espanhol, num registo de música medieval.

O Centro de Interpretação Templário Almourol é o primeiro do género em Portugal. Dispõe de uma sala de exposição permanente, espaço de exposições temporárias e de uma sala de projeção de filmes sobre a temática dos templários. No mesmo edifício funciona também a Biblioteca – Arquivo Templário, que dispõe de um vasto acervo literário dedicado a este tema, fruto das doações de Teresa Furtado e de Manuel J. Gandra.

Centro de Interpretação Templário de Almourol Largo 1.º Dezembro2260-403 Vila Nova da Barquinha Tel.: 249720358E-mail: cita@cm-vnbarquinha.ptHorário:- Dias úteis: 9h00 às 12h30 / 14h00 às 17h30- Fins de semana/feriados: 10h00 às 13h00 / 15h00 às 18h00(encerra à 2.ª feira de 1 de outubro a 30 de abril).

Pyeyros

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Según la documentación medieval la aldea de “Pyeyros”, el actual lugar de Pieros (León), perteneció a la Orden del Temple, que tuvo allí numerosas propiedades rurales hasta el punto de llegar a constituir una encomienda aneja a la de Ponferrada, regida por el mismo comendador, que entre 1220-1224 fue frey Domingo Fernández y entre 1240-1249 frey Juan Fernández “el Viejo”. Se trataría de una granja fortificada, con capilla incluida dentro de las murallas, al estilo de Aberin (Navarra). Por desgracia todo ha desaparecido, únicamente resta la pequeña capilla originalmente obra del 1086 reconstruida en románico por el Temple. Hoy está irreconocible y lo único medianamente románico es su espadaña, con la pequeña portada oeste y algunos muros. Según es tradición las piedras de los edificios templarios se llevaron al vecino Monasterio de Carracedo, en el s.XVIII, para restaurar el templo de aquel cenobio, por eso hoy podemos ver en él numerosos sillares llenos de extraños signos: hexapétalas, rosáceas, poliskeles.

in Sigillum Templi, por Diego Wesley Nogueira

Temple Bruer

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CONCEALED IN A FARMYARD IN rural Lincolnshire, this rare 13th-century tower once bore witness to one of England’s richest Knights Templar preceptories, second only to The Temple in London. One of a pair, this sole surviving three-story southeast tower once flanked the chancel of a round church. Today, Temple Bruer it is one of very few Knights Templar preceptories still standing in Great Britain.

The Knights Templar were a religious military order established at the time of the Crusades in the late Middle Ages. Their role was to protect pilgrims and the shrines of the Holy Land. As their popularity grew, they quickly went from rags to riches. Powerful and wealthy, they were able to finance their work through a Europe-wide network of preceptories, of which Temple Bruer was one.

The Knights Templar remained rich and successful for almost 200 years, but after the last Christian stronghold in the Holy Land fell, their popularity declined, and they were accused of misconduct and corruption. In 1308, the Grand Prior of England was arrested and imprisoned at Temple Bruer in Lincoln. The order was suppressed not long after, and the Knights Hospitaller took its place. The Dissolution of the Monasteries around 1540 saw Temple Bruer granted to the Duke of Suffolk by King Henry VIII, who stayed there with his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, on the way to Lincoln. Over time, the church gradually became a ruin with only the southeast tower remaining, which can still be seen today.

Categorized as a scheduled monument, this present tower, constructed of limestone ashlar, was restored in both the early 20th century and in 1961. In 1833 an archaeological excavation carried out at the Temple Bruer site concluded in a report that the ruins exhibited many signs of violence including that of live burials and infant sacrifice. The existence of subterranean vaults containing human remains previously submitted to the operation of fire was also claimed. A subsequent excavation in 1908 largely discredited these findings, although two stairways descending to a crypt were discovered. Sections of stone pillar also discovered during the 1908 excavations can now be seen on display in the ground-floor chamber along with a damaged stone effigy slab in the form of a knight which was unearthed when a petrol pump was installed in the car park situated next to the tower.

 The interior walls of the tower and the spiral staircase are covered with a veil of graffiti, some dating from as early as the 17th century. A number of masons’ marks are visible, and it is speculated that apotropaic or witches’ marks can also be found. For centuries, symbols and marks were carved or scratched into the fabric of buildings, particularly near entrance points, to offer protection from witches and evil spirits. Due to the Templars being accused of devil worship, infanticide, and many other heinous crimes, it is possible locals added these marks after their arrest to ward off evil, but it is left up to the visitor to decide.

in atlasobscura.com

Temple Church – An unusual round church in London with a Templar past

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WHETHER OR NOT YOU’VE READ The Da Vinci Code and subsequent thrillers, you may have heard of the Knights Templar. A few facts can be confirmed about the Knights. A group of pilgrims traveled to Jerusalem in 1119, and some of them were armed and followed a strict, religiously inspired code. Here’s where the facts get muddy. According to the story, nine among them took vows to become monks and were trapped in the Temple of Solomon. Or so the story goes…

Named Knights Templar because of the Temple of Solomon (“templar” meaning of the temple) their group quickly blossomed as more pilgrims began traveling to Jerusalem from Europe. Muslim–Christian tensions in Jerusalem rose, and it became very expensive to protect the Christian pilgrims. Funds were raised from Europe as the Knights grew in number and prestige.

Back in London, the Knights began to influence politics. With wealthy friends and their Church in central London, the Templars became intertwined in the financial and domestic concerns of the burgeoning English nation. The Master of the Church was an ex officio member of Parliament: separation of Church and State was more than five hundred years away.

Temple Church

With a distinct round nave, the Temple Church was consecrated in 1185. The round church is modeled on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. (In a twist of fate, that church may originally have been a temple to Aphrodite in the second century.)

But by the late 1200s, the Crusades weren’t going so well, and, with other troubles in France, the clout of the Knights waned. When they eventually fell in 1307, their land was seized by the Crown. King Edward II used the land and buildings for law colleges that developed into the present-day Inns of Court.

During World War II, German firebombs damaged the roof of the Temple Church, but it has since been restored. Visit the website for details about when the sanctuary is open for services and musical performances.

Side note: the library at Middle Temple owns valuable antique maps. These maps depict land we now know not to exist, but they are fascinating, nonetheless. A 1570 edition Abraham Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theater of the World). Check the Middle Temple Library website for times.

in atlasobscura.com

The Supper at Emmaus: A coded symbol hidden in a masterpiece

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Caravaggio’s The Supper at Emmaus features a snag in a wicker basket that mirrors an underground Christian emblem, writes Kelly Grovier.

Sometimes a flaw isn’t a flaw at all but a flourish – a stroke of genius. Take, for example, the tiny fray in the weave of the wicker basket that teeters on the edge of the table at the centre of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio’s early 17th-Century masterpiece The Supper at Emmaus, among the greatest treasures in the rich collection of the UK’s National Gallery. Though countless eyes have marvelled at the mysterious drama unfolding in the shadowy interior of the inn in which the recently resurrected Christ has just revealed his true identity to a pair of dumbstruck disciples, the significance of an almost imperceptible imperfection has gone unnoticed in the four centuries since the painting was commissioned by the Italian nobleman Ciriaco Mattei in 1601. A loose twig, sticking out from the plait of the woven fruit bowl, is a dainty defect from which the work’s truest meaning can be unravelled. Alone among the countless symbols that punctuate the religious painting, this delicately described detail – half in shade, half in light – transforms Caravaggio’s celebrated canvas from a mere illustration of scripture scene into something active and daring – a spiritual challenge whose stakes could not be higher.

To appreciate the full implications of this easily overlooked detail, it is worth reminding ourselves of the contours of the bigger picture Caravaggio is conjuring. The source for The Supper at Emmaus – a subject that has inspired everyone from Rembrandt to Velasquez, Pontormo to Cavarozzi – is the New Testament’s Gospel of Luke, which tells the story of Christ’s intimate repast with two of his disciples, Luke and Cleopas, who have failed to recognise him after his return from the dead. As the bread has already been broken and blessed, the time has come, according to the gospel’s account, for Christ to “open” the eyes of his followers and for him to vanish “out of their sight”.

The painting, in other words, captures a mystical threshold, the millisecond before Christ, who is hauntingly haloed by a stranger’s shadow on the wall behind him, disappears from the world. In that immeasurable instant between revelation and evaporation, Caravaggio hatches a suspended, otherworldly world. To the left of the basket, Christ’s paternal uncle, Cleopas, pushes himself up from his chair in panicked astonishment at the disclosure – his sharp elbows poking through the worn-out sleeves of his coat. On the other side of the wicker bowl, to our right, Luke flings his arms out wide, mirroring the very posture on the cross into which Christ’s own limbs had been nailed at the time of his painful death. Meanwhile, the unfazed innkeeper, who stands beside Christ, gazes on uncomprehendingly – hearing the same words that Christ has uttered to his thunderstruck disciples, but unable to grasp their significance.

Caravaggio must have been keenly aware in choreographing this extraordinary scene, poised as it is between our perishable realm and an eternal one that lies beyond, that the contrasting reactions of those present for the big reveal – the nonplussed innkeeper, on the one hand, and Christ’s stunned and speechless followers, on the other – were also those that his own painting had the power to elicit. It is one thing to illustrate a moment of revelation that others have experienced. It is quite another thing to make the observers of his work actually participate in the awe of that epiphany – to transform the canvas into the very stage on which a spiritual awakening is potentially and perpetually possible.

Caravaggio was keenly aware that a painting has the potential to exceed the limitations of a static surface and become a platform for transcendence

But how? “It is as if,” the art historian Andrew Graham Dixon mused in his searching biography of the artist, Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane, while discussing this same work, “the painter has asked himself a series of direct, straightforward questions about the story that he was given to depict. What happens to the world when a miracle takes place? How might it be possible to tell, should the risen Christ suddenly come among us? What do things actually look like at such moments?” A master of light and darkness who wielded his brush like a magician’s wand, coaxing from chiaroscuro a semblance of tangible form, Caravaggio was as keenly aware as any artist has ever been that a painting has the potential to exceed the limitations of a static surface and become a platform for transcendence.

Enter the wicker fruit basket. This anything-but-still Still Life in Caravaggio’s painting is the key prop in his ingenious effort to reach out to us, to ensure our interest in the scene he is portraying is elevated beyond the passive into something urgent and active. With virtuoso Trompe-l’œil sculpting of substance and shadow that creates the illusion that the object is projecting out of the canvas, the artist has carefully situated the woven vessel on the very edge of the table.

The basket is a precarious nudge away from tumbling out of the painting altogether and into our space, spilling into reality its contents of bursting pomegranates and swollen grapes, rotting russets and radiant quince, which the artist has filled with ripeness to the core. But it’s the interruption in the weave of straw that subliminally snags the eye of the mind – a fray consisting of two intersecting curves that the artist describes with calculating care – one swerving upwards, the other down, to form the unexpected, if irrefutable, shape of a stylised fish, or “Ichthys” in the parlance of ancient Christian symbolism.

According to early ecclesiastical tradition, the Ichthys emblem, which dates back to the 2nd Century as a sign of Christian belief, was employed as a kind of secret handshake by followers who feared persecution from non-believers. To ensure that one was in the company of a fellow adherent of the church’s precepts, a semi-circular arch was traced on the ground. If that seemingly innocuous gesture was joined by a mirroring arch drawn by the stranger, thereby forming the crude outline of a fish, the silent ritual of acknowledging the dominion of Christ was considered reciprocated.

The act, intended to help one acknowledge the presence of a Christian, is clearly relevant to a painting devoted to the very subject of spiritual recognition. By conscientiously accenting only a portion of the Ichthys outline by casting a sliver of light on one of the loose twigs while keeping the other, behind it, in relative shadow, Caravaggio approximates the rustic ritual of inscribing one half of the fish symbol. From there, an acceptance of the overture to recognise the miracle at hand is entirely up to the observer of his work. Whether we chose to receive the gesture is up to us.

Unconvinced that the artist intended to braid into his basket an encrypted Christian symbol? Look closely at the silhouette that the pile of fruit casts on to the shroud-like tablecloth to the right of the wicker bowl. There, an even more emphatic shape of a fish, with a sharp lunate tail fin forever flipping behind it, can be seen sailing headlong into the basket, pulling our gaze with it in its wake.

Nor is it the first time that Caravaggio found himself melting a shadowy still life into a display bursting with scaly surprises. Seven years before he painted The Supper at Emmaus, the artist created an edgily charming portrait of a young man recoiling from a reptile that has nipped his unsuspecting finger as he fiddles with the arrangement of flowers and fruit. It is as if Caravaggio, when he came to create The Supper at Emmaus half a decade later, has managed to contain and sublimate the unleashed intensity of Boy Bitten by a Lizard – a version of which is also in the National Gallery – and harness its energy into something spiritually subtler, expectant, and forever on the verge of snapping.

Five years after he completed The Supper at Emmaus, Caravaggio undertook the subject again for a version of the gospel story that now hangs in Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan. A much starker interpretation of the scene, whose shadows have thickened into an engulfing bleakness, this later canvas is far more sombrous in temperament than his initial vision. The basket of fruit, with its lyrical flourishes of unravelling wicker and finning shadows, has vanished entirely from the table. Rather than attempting to bridge the mystical world of the painting with ours, Caravaggio has begun instead to push us away and to seal us out from the dismal abyss into which he and his canvas seem to be sinking. No stranger to the darkness, which increasingly called to him in the stressful final years of his life – with routine run-ins with the law, homicidal brawls, and eventually his own mysterious death in 1610 under circumstances that remain murky to this day – Caravaggio seems less and less to have perceived his paintings as the mystical stages on which others can find their souls than a projection of the gathering gloom in which his own soul was shrouded.

by  Kelly Grovier, bbc.com/culture

Dover’s ancient Knights Templar Church ruins that aren’t all that they seem

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Lying next to a main road in Dover, a stone’s throw from a residential street, is an interesting set of medieval ruins.

Known as the Knights Templar Church – by English Heritage and Google and pretty much everyone – they comprise flint and mortar remains in the shape of a rectangular chancel around 10 metres long.

It is believed to date back to the 12th century. But it’s not quite as it seems.

Despite its popular name, most experts seem dubious about its specific Knights Templar origins.

English Heritage describes the links to the famous order as “tenuous”.

The Knights Templar were a military and religious group founded in the 12th century during the Crusades, to protect pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land and to defend the holy places there.

Dover then would be a good location to do it from.

They became rich and powerful but increasingly unpopular, and were eventually suppressed in 1312.

Apparently, the form of the Western Heights ruins mirrors that of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, accounting for the link with the Templars.

But as English Heritage experts point out: “The port of Dover, the chief departure point for pilgrimages to the Holy Land, was an obvious place for the Templars to have held property.

“But they are believed to have left the town before 1185 and their links to this particular site are tenuous.

“An alternative interpretation suggests that the building was a wayside shrine on the Dover to Folkestone road.”

Experts also point to the site not being listed as belonging to the Order in surviving records.

The Dover area does have other strong links to the Knights Templar however.

They are believed to have established a church at Temple Ewell in 1170.

While only below ground ruins remain from their Preceptory, they are said to have founded St Peter and St Paul Church that stills stands in the village today.

Apparently evidence of the original Norman work can be seen in the north doorway and the high narrow window in the north wall of the nave.

Some suggest the Knights Templar may have used the Western Heights building before moving to Temple Ewell, but again an expert says it’s “more likely to have been a simple road-side shrine”.

Others say the shape, a smaller scale form of both the Jersualem church and the New Temple Church in London, indicate it may have had links to the Order’s supporters, even if it wasn’t a part of their formal estate.

Either way, it’s an intriguing thing to look at in a prominent location in Dover.

And with the Western Heights fortifications and nature reserve trail nearby, there is plenty of history – not to mention spectacular views – to take in too.

in kentlive.news

Executive Head of the Templar Corps interviewed for History Channel Documentary

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The production and filming of a new documentary on “The Civilization of Fear” for the History Channel is currently under way. This week the filming crew landed in Vila Nova da Barquinha, Portugal, where the Portuguese Hermetic Museum was a graceful host for a day long recording session.

The documentary explores the many faces of fear, how it influenced the development of civilization, how it has been used in social, political and religious manipulation and control. how it manifests in every day life and how the future and all the uncertainties of a distopic technological world dominated by algorithms and non-human “intelligence” may become a living nightmare.

Luis de Matos, Executive Head of the Templar Corps spoke about the element of fear in the Middle Ages and how Chivalry traditionally distinguishes between fear and awe, both important for the understanding of the Templars in their crusader context. Professionally linked to technology development, he also made a few remarks on Artificial Intelligence, Deep Web and how Social Media captures user’s attentions and turns it into a commodity.

Prof. Manuel J. Gandra, Director of the Portuguese Hermetic Museum and João Pestana Dias, Grand Master of the Portuguese Sovereign Grand Lodge were also interviewed and gave very insightful and provocative testimony on the theme.

The Templar Corps would like to acknowledge the essential role of member Francisco Mourão Corrêa in organizing the event.

Ciclo de Palestras – A Alma de Portugal

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No próximo dia 19 de Setembro de 2020 irá realizar-se a primeira de quatro palestras do Ciclo A Alma de Portugal, iniciativa da nossa Ordem em parceria com a Associação Saudade e apoio do Templar Corps. As palestras deste ciclo serão apresentadas por João Pedro Silva, KGOTJ e Preceptor Geral do Grão Priorado de Portugal da OSMTHU.

O ciclo pretende levar os participantes a uma viagem pela história providencial de Portugal, revistando os mitolusismos e mergulhando na sua Teleologia. Será, esperamos, uma excelente oportunidade de partilha e um estudo dos mitos que, escorrendo, fecundaram a nossa realidade, nas palavras de Pessoa. Uma viagem à nossa Patreosofia, conceito extraordinário que nos legou António Quadros.

No cumprimento da parceria firmada com a Associação Saudade, a receita deste evento reverte integralmente para o apoio ao Museu Hermético Português, pelo que a participação de cada um acaba também por ser uma excelente forma de apoiar esta causa.

Inscrição por email enviado para: info.arcana.templi@gmail.com

Ou através da Associação Saudade

Donativo: 15 EUR (por cada sessão) reverte a favor do Museu Hermético Português.

Apresentação em Pdf

 

Tomar – Portugal’s Knights Templar Town

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Tomar is a historically outstanding town in the Ribatejo region of central Portugal. Straddling the banks of the River Nabão, Tomar has narrow cobbled streets and a whole host of appealing buildings. It is also home to one of the most important architectural and religious monuments in the country – the Convento de Cristo, former headquarters of the Knights Templar. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this magnificent monastery and its associated castle sit in a commanding position on a wooded hill overlooking the town.

The Knights Templar was an elite fighting force and semi-religious order that was founded in 1119, during the Crusades. Under the guidance of Gualdim Pais, the visionary Grand Master of the Portuguese Knights, the order began construction of a castle on the hill overlooking Tomar around 1160. The design of the castle’s famous ‘rotunda’ church was inspired by similar structures in Jerusalem. Each knight took a vow of poverty and chastity and wore a white coat emblazoned with a red cross. Over the years, the Templars spread across Europe, gaining extraordinary wealth in the process – and also many powerful enemies!

By the early 1300s, amid accusations of heresy, the order was finally suppressed. However, in Portugal, the Templars re-emerged again in 1320, reincarnated as the ‘Order of Christ’, but now under the control of the throne. It was thanks to the wealth of this new order that Prince Henry the Navigator (who was Grand Master from 1417-1460) was able to fund Portugal’s legendary maritime voyages. The order’s proud symbol – the Cross of Christ – became the distinguished banner for the country’s great age of exploration and discovery. From the 13th to the 17th century, the Convento de Cristo underwent continuous expansion to become the superb monument it is today.

We entered the castle grounds through the main gate and stopped to admire the outside of the circular 12th century church. After entering the monastery, we realised that there was a surprise around every corner. We counted eight cloisters, the largest of which is regarded as a renaissance masterpiece. There are charming terraces with great views over the countryside, an infirmary, a pharmacy and some gloomy monks’ living quarters.

The interior of the beautiful round church, known as the charola, is the chief attraction. The aisle is circular with a high altar enclosed within a central octagon, and the surrounding walls are decorated with murals of sacred art from the 16th century. This was the knights’ private oratorium and they attended services here whilst seated on horseback!

Just outside the church, the tiny Santa Bárbara cloister has a grandstand view of the chapter house’s amazing ornate Manueline window. This bizarre masterpiece is structured around two carvings of ships’ masts, adorned with knots, cork, coral and seaweed. Although covered in lichen and clearly in need of renovation, these somber blemishes just add to the window’s extraordinary appeal.

A secure supply of water to the complex was provided in the early 17th century by means of a six-kilometre aqueduct. This supreme engineering structure is most impressive where it crosses the steep Vale da Ribeira dos Pegões just outside Tomar. It has two magnificent 30m high tiers of arches and there is a tempting high-level walkway along the top of the conduit – but a painful drop should you stumble and fall!

The ordinary town residents have always been able to enjoy a plentiful water supply from the River Nabão itself.

From Roman times onwards, waterpower was used to drive mills, oil-presses and water wheels for irrigation and industry. The Roda do Nabão is a modern and much-admired water wheel located next to the town’s lovely central Parque de Mouchão. Constructed of pinewood, it is a perfect example of how the force of the River Nabão was used for local economic benefit.

Tomar has many other noteworthy attractions and we began our exploration on the east side of the river at the Santa Maria do Olival, a simple church dating from the 12th century and home to many Templar tombs, notably Gualdim Pais, the Grand Master himself. Plain on the outside and plain on the inside, this is a church with considerable charm and overlooked by most visitors.

Crossing the river using the scenic ‘Old Bridge’ and turning left, we found the Match Box Museum in a shady courtyard of the Convento de São Francisco. It has a mind-boggling collection of 43,000 matchboxes from 120 countries displayed like colourful tapestries.

The medieval heart of Tomar lies nearby and we wandered through its cobbled lanes to visit Portugal’s oldest surviving medieval synagogue. Many Portuguese have Jewish ancestry and Tomar was once the home of a thriving Jewish community. This 15th century Hebrew temple has variously been used as a prison, a hayloft and a grocery warehouse during its long history, but has now been splendidly renovated and is home to an interesting small museum. There are strange upturned earthenware jars set high in its walls to improve acoustics!

The spacious Praça da República, surrounded by attractive 17th century buildings is at the very heart of the old town, and overlooked by the lovely Igreja de São João Baptista. The church has an octagonal spire and two superbly ornamental Manueline doorways. The handsome city hall lies directly opposite and between the two, in a befitting place in the middle of the square, stands an imposing statue of the city’s illustrious founder, Gualdim Pais.

Every four years, the square becomes the centre of activities for Tomar’s most famous cultural event – the Festa dos Tabuleiros. This ancient celebration, associated with the Feast of the Holy Spirit, is actually thought to have its roots in earlier pagan fertility rites. Its highlight is a procession of hundreds of local girls (traditionally virgins) carrying tall ‘tabuleiros’ on their heads. These unusual headdresses are built from loaves of bread, decorated with flowers, and have a white dove at the top to symbolize the Holy Spirit. A local boy helps each girl to support her enormous ‘hat’ as it can weigh up to 15kg. However, these male attendants are not apparently required to be virgins!

One wonders exactly what Gualdim Pais would think about modern Tomar if he were alive today – international tour groups tramping through his beautiful church and young ladies walking the streets with stacks of loaves on their heads? However, he and his fellow Templar Knights would no doubt have been very happy to collect the considerable tourist income for their charitable coffers!

by Nigel Wright in portugalresident.com

II International Conference Confirmed for October 2020

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In a meeting in Almourol / Vila Nova da Barquinha this week, the local municipality confirmed the final dates for the II Conference “Order of the Temple – Spiritual Chivalry and Templarism”. Taking place at the Templar Interpretation Center (CITA) in Almourol , Portugal, the International Conference follows the groundbreaking event that joined together in Barquinha experts from all over the world and different branches of the Order in October 2019.

The current COVID19 pandemic has severely disrupted traveling plans and large events. Because of that, it was decided that the Conference will have an opening session on October 13 for a limited number of invited guests, when a new exhibition will be inaugurated in the Interpretation Center, followed the 17 and 18 of October by a mixed online and live event from the auditorium in Barquinha, Portugal.

The full Program will be available soon. If you are interested in attending online (free), please send us an email to conference@templarcorps.org or stay in touch with these pages.

Templar Corps firma Protocolo con Sigillum Templi, principal club de Estudios Templarios de habla hispana

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El Templar Corps International (templarcorps.org) ha firmado un protocolo con Sigillum Templi, el más grande e importante club de Estúdios Templários de habla hispana. La primera iniciativa conjunta es un Curso de estudio en la web en español sobre la Orden del Templo, que comienza el 25 de julio.

En una breve entrevista, Víctor Padilla Nieto, Administrador General, nos da una idea de lo que podemos esperar de esta colaboración.

TEMPLAR GLOBE:Victor, cuéntanos sobre Sigillum Temple, cuando a sido fundado y qué tipo de trabajo se ha publicado?

VICTOR PADILLA NIETO: Sigillum templo es un proyecto creado en el 2015 por un grupo multidisciplinar que estudia la Historia, principalmente en el período de vigencia de la orden del Temple.
Esto conlleva una serie de líneas de investigación para comprender y posteriormente divulgar el entorno de los Pobres Compañeros de Cristo y su herencia.

TG: ¿Cómo podemos unirnos a Sigilum Templi?

VPN: Tenemos diferentes vías de divulgación: Página de Facebook muy dinámica; Blog del medievo con más de 1500 entradas Onda Sigillum. Con un programa que investiga las Claves Ocultas de la Historia
Una web dónde poner en común las investigaciones y con una zona privada para socios.

TG: ¿Hay un boletín o revista para suscribirse?

VPN: Desde hace unos meses disponemos de dos tipos de publicaciones. Una digital y gratuita rllamada Cartularium templi, que se publica en PDF y se distribuye vía Facebook y en la web, y otra de pago por suscripción anual, el Codice Sigillum, impresa a todo color con unas 100 paginas. Escrita por los más prestigiosos articulistas y conocedores del medievo en general y de la Orden del Templo en particular.

TG: ¿Cuán importante es la historia de los templarios en el contexto de la Reconquista?

VPN: La importancia de la reconquista en la península Ibérica por parte de la orden del Temple es vital. No se puede concebir sin su ayuda a los diferentes reinos cristianos peninsulares. Mallorca, Valencia, Murcia, Sevilla, Algarve, entre otros muchos, son territorios ganados por el Temple a los diferentes reinos mencionados. Participaciones en la conquista de Calatrava la vieja y la inequívoca victoria en las Navas de Tolosa en las que las crónicas destacan a los caballeros templarios como los más aguerridos.

TG: ¿Qué motiva esta asociación con Templar Corps?

VPN: El principal motivo para esta asociación con Templar Corps es poder divulgar la historia sin dogmatismo. Templar Corps está avalada por un equipo de librepensadores que los diferencia con la mayoría de entidades con otros fines divulgativos más o menos dirigidos. Tanto Sigillum Templi como Templar Corps son entidades autosuficientes e independientes.

TG: ¿Qué puede esperar aprender un estudiante de este Curso?

VPN: En este curso los estudiantes van a tomar conciencia plena de la vital importancia de la Orden en la península Ibérica, y no solamente esto, sino que aprenderá el conocimiento esotérico básico para entender el por qué de muchas de las acciones que tuvieron y su significado.

TG: ¿La ciencia, el arte, la arquitectura, el conocimiento y la espiritualidad templaria son relevantes hoy en día o es solo un recordatorio nostálgico del pasado?

VPN: Por supuesto son importantes. Nada que ver con la nostalgia del pasado. La iconografía templaria revela al iniciado un camino al esoterismo. La geometría sagrada aplicada a las construcciones se ha puesto cada vez más en valor con la aplicación de nuevas tecnologías del siglo XXI . La organización de las encomiendas es un hito en el medievo. La alimentación está reglada y aplicada con nociones de dietética e higiene alimentaria… En resumen, la continuidad que da la orden del Temple a la Gran Tradición Ancestral, pone de manifiesto el enorme conocimiento que se transmite a todos y para todos.

Gracias Victor. Te deseamos lo mejor para el curso.

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