The OSMTHU, a branch of the Templar Order dating back to the early XIX century, was awarded the Bandarra Grand Cross this Saturday for the Templar Corps International initiative in recognition of “relevant services (…) on behalf of Mankind”.
The award was created by the Sovereign Grand Lodge of Portugal under Grand Master João Pestana Dias, as a way of recognizing non-masonic entities that excel in their work on humanitarian, charitable and philanthropic mission based projects. With a strong focus on the historical and philosophical Portuguese Tradition – that includes a 900+ years old association with the Order of the Temple and the world changing XV century endeavor of Discoveries planned and executed by the Order of Christ – the Sovereign GL bases most of their liturgical work on the Portuguese Rite, a re-work of the Scottish Rite blue degrees re-framed around Lusitanian mythological themes. The very name of the award, Bandarra, refers to a XVI century shoemaker who was famous for composing a set of messianic verse prophecies about the end times and the coming of a new age of peace and brotherly love blessed by the Holy Spirit. The motto of the award is in fact “Ens Gemma”, that could be translated as “[the future] being [or entity] [already present] in the egg”, as explained by XX century poet Fernando Pessoa.
Contacted by the Templar Globe, Luis de Matos, Chancellor of the OSMTHU expressed his surprise for the award. “We are only at the start of this ambitious and transforming project”, he said. “It’s very encouraging for everyone in the Order and to all hard working members of the Templar Corps International when our efforts don’t go unnoticed. We hope to be a center for international cooperation and effective work, since, as it’s often said, words are all worn out, now what we need is action. Acta non verba.”
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.
Results for the OSMTHU Electoral Procedure have been certified and are now out. Master Antonio Paris is confirmed for a new term with a new Magisterial Council.
The elections took place between May and July 2020 and the Master and Magisterial Council will be invested in office in October.
This is the composition of the new Master and Council for the period 2020 – 2025:
Master – Fr+ Antonio Paris
Chancellor – Fr+ Luis de Matos
Seneschal – Fr+ José Miguel Navarro, Spain
Cabinet Secretary: S+ Patricia Oyarzun, Spain
Treasurer – Fr+ Valter Tacconi, Italy
Chaplain – Fr+ Luis Fonseca, Mons. Christophorus de Lusignan, Portugal
Visitor for Latin America – Fr+ Francesco Cavalli, Colombia
Advisor – Fr+ Vinko Lisec, Croatia
Advisor – Fr+ Vincenzo Tuccillo, Bolivia
Advisor – John von Blauch, United States of America
Since 1999, with the election of I Master HE Fernando de Toro-Garland, the OSMTHU follows a rigorous protocol when it comes to voting and certifying the election. By retaining the services of an independent auditor, the Order ensures transparency and fairness in the proceedings and fully certified results.
You can download the certification of the present election here.
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
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 email@example.com or stay in touch with these pages.
The Templar Corps International website (templarcorps.org) is the latest initiative promoted by the Order in association with the Templar Globe and a few partners around the world. Despite being new and based on technology, the Templar Corps is also firmly based on the very ancient idea of serving God by serving mankind. And service to others has been at the center stage of Templar activities in many countries. The Templar Corps today draws on past experience and a determined will to help the less fortunate.
Speaking of “center stage”, Portuguese musical duo Anjos (brothers Nelson and Sérgio Rosado), with a career spanning over 20 years of raving success, approached the Templar Corps searching for computers for the “Instituto dos Ferroviários do Sul e Sueste”, an organization that provides aid, food and education to over 65 children of railway workers. With COVID19, general classes had to be taken online and homework submitted and discussed using digital tools. Many children do not have computers at home.
The Templar Corps, together with the Service of the Hospitalar Officer Fr+ Miguel da Fabiana and Grand Feytor Fr+ Ricardo Salum, manged to obtain, in record time 6 computers, that were submitted to all the necessary testing and completed with appropriate software and hardware (monitors, mouse, cables, etc.) and later delivered to the institution in need in Barreiro, Portugal. The children were delighted to receive the computers. Their wonderful drawings were the best “thank you” notes we could aim for. “Thank you Angles for your offer”, could be read across the table.
Just two months before the Service of the Hospitalar Officer Fr+ Miguel da Fabiana and D+ Vera Lúcia took the Templar Corps on another mission: to find a used fridge for the “Dom Maior” Association. The Association was founded over 10 years ago, after the parents of a very young boy were informed by their doctor that the child had a fatal very rare and incurable disease and would die within months. They organized, pulled help from friends, family and strangers and kept on looking for a cure. The boy celebrated his 12th birthday this year! Eager to share their experience and passion, “Dom Maior” seeks help and resources to go even further.
After a few weeks of local fundraising, the Grand Priory of Portugal managed to buy and deliver a brand new fridge, with a better energy efficiency than the one requested. Pulling their efforts together, the Commandery of Lagos and the Commandery of Arraiolos packaged and delivered 60 children’s games that were highly appreciated and helped to contribute to a fun, balanced education.
The Templar Corps International aggregates these initiatives of good will from Templars all around the world. It doesn’t make sense that volunteers work in isolation and unknown to each other. The needs of children in “Don Maior”, the computers for Ferroviários and the altruism of the Anjos band (of brothers) is multiplied ONE THOUSAND TIMES if we share the resources, share the burden and share the love.
Serving God by serving mankind. That’s it, really.
The TEMPLAR ORDER FOUNDATION COURSE 2020 is the most extensive and comprehensive study Course about the Templars available. It gives students an organized and thoroughly researched and documented vision of the subjects at hand. Divided in five Modules, it methodically addresses five fundamental pillars that organize the basic themes, allowing for a clear overview and understanding of the different aspects of the Order.
MODULE II – THEOLOGY AND RELIGION
4 Sessions, 8h
> Main liturgical feasts: Cycle of light – Easter, Pentecost, Saint-John
> Main liturgical feasts: Cycle of darkness – Epiphany, Saint-John Evangelist
> Devotions and Sanctoral: The Virgin Mary, Saint John the Baptist, Saint John the Evangelist, Bethany (Mary Magdalene, Lazarus), others
> Templar Liturgy
> Beliefs and Influences: Old Testament References (Genesis, Psalms, Abraham, Solomon)
> Beliefs and Influences: Eastern Christianity, Copt Christianity, Early Christianity
> Beliefs and Influences: Focus on John’s Gospel
> The Primitive Rule and Religion
> Ecclesiastic organization and Privilege
More information here: Templar Corps International Academy
Amidst the impactful effects of the COVID19 pandemic, that prevents all international meetings, the OSMTHU has launched the Templar Corps Platform (templarcorps.org). The initiative has been in development ever since Master Antonio Paris resumed his term in office in 2018, as a technological tool to support international Templar cooperation in real world projects.
Under the motto “Ethics and Service for a new century”, the Templar Corps International (TCI) is a group of men and women with a Templar background, organized locally in units spread across the world, ready to put their energy, passion and intelligence at the service of mankind. Members come from a wide range of Templar Orders in over 20 countries, whose membership to a Templar structure is acknowledged and equivalent rank given. A significant number of members have come to the Templar Corps with no previous Templar connection of any kind – which is not required.
Unlike a traditional Order, vertical and highly hierarchical in nature, the Templar Corps International is an horizontal organization, managed as a network of highly motivated individuals run through nodes that roughly correspond to regional hubs.
These hubs run local projects, cooperate with projects run by other hubs and materialize in the real world, with real people, and real work, the conceptual aims of Spiritual Chivalry as inspired by the Order of the Temple and other traditional spiritual and historical sources.
These projects cover a wide range of traditional areas of interest, all with a Templar focus:
- Charity, international aid and disaster relief
- Historical research and publishing, scholarship, learning
- Traditional crafts, professions and industries, including swordsmith, pottery, wood carving, …
- Traditional arts, painting, sculpture, music, theater, literature, …
- Farming, hospitality, pilgrimage support and aid, …
- Ethical business, trading and technology
- Entertainment, documentaries, film, digital media, …
- Tourism, guided tours, spiritual retreats, …
- Leadership training, self-improvement programs, advisory, …
- Intellectual Property creation and management, …
A list of supported and affiliated local Projects is available. It includes humanitarian work in Europe, South America and Africa. A Global Forum event is held online monthly, where leading specialists discuss some of the most important issues related to the service Corps.
The Templar Globe welcomes the Templar Corps International to the Templar family of websites. We will be bringing to our readers the latest Corps announcements, events and news.
More information: templarcorps.org
The OSMTHU has announced today that the Electoral Procedure for the election of the Master and Magisterial Council for the period 2020 – 2025 is now opened. Current Master, HE António Paris resumed his term of office in 2018 in Arraiolos, Portugal. That term ends in 2020.
In the last two years the Order has worked for the unity of the Templar world, being in touch with a substantial number of autonomous branches and individual Grand Priories in an attempt to congregate efforts in true international Templar cooperation. Of the several Projects that should flourish in the next few years, the International Conferente on the Order of the Temple and Templarism is one of the most innovative and ground-braking. The new elected Master of the OSMTHU will be invested in office during the II Conference in October 2020.
For more details, please visit the OSMTHU official site.
*(foto: left to right – HE Nicolas Haimovici Regent OSMTJ; HE Antonio Paris Master OSMTHU; HE Fernando Freire Mayor of Vila Nova da Barquinha; HE Francisco Caballero Gran Prior de Toledo. Taken during the I International Conference on the Order of the Temple and Templarism, Vila Nova da Barquinha, Portugal, October 13, 2019)
In times of exception, exceptional measures are taken. The Corona virus has completely disrupted our lives, confining most of us to our homes. However, the Order keeps its work and doesn’t stop. And like many organizations, the Magisterial Council of the OSMTHU, spread across several continents and time slots, met this pas 11 of April – Passover Saturday – online.
Just one year ago we were in Croatia, however this year confinement and traveling restrictions forced the Grand Priory of Croatia to postpone their yearly event. In June the Magisterial Council would travel to Bolivia to host a large south american meeting with the Grand Priories in amity, but the calendar is getting tighter and a decision about the event had to be taken.
Using Zoom, the Council has been working together, more often, more tightly together, more efficiently, cooperating and orchestrating the TRANSFORMATION that it has announced last year.
This may be the first crisis in history in which we are required to really work together and leave nobody behind. The virus respects no borders, it bestows no political favors, it distinguishes no races or religions, it doesn’t care about wealth or fame. It’s democratic and a leveler. MOAE. Mors Omnia Aequat. We will pull through together, with compassion, with commitment, with real work in the real world. Our actions as individuals do impact society as a whole. Indeed the distant flapping of a butterfly’s wing may cause a tornado on your back yard. Each Templar should do his/hers part.
In the next few weeks we expect to release a revised Calendar for 2020 and digital tools for International Cooperation. We want to ensure Templars all across the world that the Order is ready for the challenges ahead.
May God look upon our humble efforts with grace.
An appetising aroma of sheep’s cheese and smoked chorizo sausages wafted through the stalls of Estremoz’s famous Saturday market. This weekly extravaganza shows off the best of the Alentejo’s local produce, including olives, chutneys, honey, fruit, vegetables and colourful ceramics. It is also home to a superb ‘flea market’ with stalls offering everything from coin collections to cowbells! The market is held in the Rossio Marquês de Pombal, a vast square at the town’s centre.
Estremoz exudes a real feeling of elegance and wealth, because high-grade white marble has been extensively used in the construction of its churches, civic buildings, streets and squares. So plentiful is the availability of top quality marble from the many quarries in this part of the Alentejo, that Estremoz and the nearby towns of Borba and Vila Viçosa have even used it for the doorsteps of their humblest cottages.
Unseasonal rain and a chill wind cut short our perusal of the flea market so we scuttled away to visit another of Estremoz’s attractions, the celebrated Café Águias d’Ouro (Golden Eagles Café). Built early in the 20th century, this art nouveau coffee house has long been famed for political debate, so we were not surprised to be surrounded by men emotionally discussing the weighty matters of local politics. Here was a café with just the kind of atmosphere one reads about in Portuguese literature.
Next to the Rossio, there is a peaceful municipal garden and the picturesque Lago do Gadanha (Lake of the Scythe), named after its central scythe-wielding statue. Nearby are a couple of splendid churches – the Igreja de São Francisco and the Convento dos Congregados, the latter of which is also home to a museum of sacred art.
As the rain turned even heavier, we decided to cross the square to visit one of Portugal’s national monuments, the Convento das Maltesas. This historic building, once a hospital, has a charming cloister at its centre and houses Estremoz’s ‘Live Science Centre’ (Centro de Ciência Viva). It is a very impressive interactive and educational science museum, where children of all ages can learn about the wonders of our planet. Perfect for stimulating scientific curiosity!
The old city of Estremoz
The ‘Cidade Velha’ (old city), with its palace and castle, stands defiantly on top of the hill overlooking the new town far below. It is reached by following a labyrinth of narrow winding streets and through two sets of impressive medieval walls, the construction of which began in 1261. Estremoz Castle is the town’s classic landmark, built during the 13th century as a defensive fortress. Within this fortification, King Dinis later built a palace where he lived with his wife Isabel of Aragon. Queen Isabel was famously generous to the poor and gained the status of a saint amongst the local population. She even has a tasty almond-flavoured cake, the ‘Bolo Rainha Santa’, in her name.
The castle has an imposing 27m high tower made from white marble, and the palace next door has been converted into a luxurious Pousada. This majestic hotel was our comfortable home during our time in Estremoz and boasts two magnificent lounges and a stately dining room, all containing a fantastic array of period Portuguese furniture. The top of the tower is reached by access through the Pousada and has a wide-ranging view of the Alentejo landscape. There is a chapel to the saintly Queen Isabel behind the palace and her own skillfully carved statue stands in the square close to the base of the tower. However, she does look rather glum!
This same square also gives access to the Igreja de Santa Maria, built between the 16th and 17th centuries, and the fascinating Museu Municipal. Built in the Manueline style, the lovely Santa Maria church has tombstones emblazoned with coats-of-arms of many notable Portuguese families.
The museum has an eclectic display of Alentejana objects on show, from exquisitely carved figures in wood and cork depicting rural activities, to rooms depicting local life in the 19th century. But it is the colourful ‘Bonecos de Estremoz’ that catch the eye! Literally translated as ‘Dolls of Estremoz’, there are 500 of these colourfully-painted figurines made from clay. This original folk art is more than three centuries old and in 2017 was classified by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
We discovered that the restaurant A Cadeia Quinhentista (Old 16th Century Gaol), just behind the Santa Maria Church, had some great examples of the best of Alentejana cuisine. Its menu was stacked with interesting local dishes – from ‘Pézinhos de Coentrada’ (pork’s feet with coriander) to the famous dessert ‘Sericaia’ (egg pudding served with cinnamon and plum syrup).
Elvas and Evoramonte
No visit to this part of the Alentejo would be complete without seeing something of Elvas and Evoramonte. Elvas is a wonderfully preserved fortress town located further east, close to the Spanish border, and justifiably popular with military historians. It was the first line of defence against Spanish invasion and its walls were designed so that no side was left unprotected – resulting in a unique star arrangement of battlements.
Essential for outlasting a protracted siege was a reliable supply of clean water, and this was ensured by construction of a long and impressive aqueduct. Elvas managed to fend off three separate Spanish sieges, only falling in 1808 during the Napoleonic wars. We spent a fascinating day exploring the town’s cobbled streets, churches, the ancient castle and the impressive battlements.
Evoramonte is one of the Alentejo’s lesser-known jewels. This ancient little town to the west of Estremoz has a medieval quarter straddling a ridge 481 metres in height. A good road winds its way to the top and we parked close to its pretty church and immaculately-kept cemetery. The 16th century castle, built in the Italian renaissance style, is perched at the other end of the settlement at the highest point and offers remarkable views.
It was a joy to stroll along the one and only street, deserted on a bitterly cold day, and we just couldn’t resist purchasing a bottle of the local wine at the village gift shop. This became the final part of our simple Alentejo lunch at home the following day – delicious smoked chorizo, tangy sheep’s cheese, olives and wonderful Alentejo bread followed by a tasty ‘Bolo Rainha Santa’. Happy memories!
By Nigel Wright
Nigel Wright and his wife Sue moved to Portugal 13 years ago and live near Guia. They lived and worked in the Far East and Middle East during the 1980s and 90s, and although now retired, still continue to travel and seek out new cultural experiences. His other interests include tennis, gardening and photography.
On 14 February 2020, the Bolivia Government Information Agency declared a disaster zone for Luribay Municipality, La Paz Department, due to heavy rain and river flooding that has affected 500 families, 30 households, and 1,050 hectares of agricultural land. In addition, media reported this rainy season overall has affected eight of nine regions of the country were 6,423 families suffered injuries. To date, 17 deaths have been registered.
The Priorato General del Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia, headed by Grand Prior General Fr+ Vincenzo Tuccillo organized a Templar presence in the relief efforts, in cooperation with the main ONG’s in the country, including the International Red Cross.
Food, medicines, water and other essential goods were gathered by the Bolivian brothers and sisters, effectively kicking off the first real world action of the Relief organization of the OSMTHU – to be announced later in the year – the Templar Corps International, the service Corps of the Order.
The Grand Priory of Bolivia has been working on a steady development of Templar ideals in South America, in a leading role, alongside the Grand Priory of Colombia, a true beacon of Templar light in the region. An International Meeting with a focus on ecumenical cooperation and opened to all Templar lines and families in the Americas, is being prepared. More details on the work of the Grand Priory of Bolivia can be found by visiting the website.
There is a part of Spain, within a day’s drive of the Algarve, that you may have never heard of, let alone visited. If I’m right, you have been missing something interesting.
I’m talking about the Duero River valley. If you have driven north through Spain, heading for France or Britain, you have almost certainly driven from Salamanca through Valladolid and on to Burgos and Santander or Bilbao or France. You have driven right across the Duero River just south of Valladolid in the small town of Tordesillas.
The Duero River rises near Soria and runs from east to west through the provinces of Valladolid and Zamora before it forms the Spanish-Portuguese border for a while. When it enters Portugal, it changes its name to become the Douro and splashes on west to Porto and the Atlantic.
We all know the wonderful Douro wines – but you may not be aware of the fact that, in Spain, this river nourishes some very excellent Spanish wines, too.
There are a number of DOs (Denominación de Origen) that depend on the special climactic effects created by the Duero. The best known are the Ribera del Duero (home of Vega Sicilia, which is arguably Spain’s greatest wine) to the east of Valladolid and Rueda to the south of Tordesillas, but excellent, though lesser known, wines are also produced in the DOs of Cigales, north of Valladolid, and in Toro, Zamora and Los Arribes, all in the province of Zamora.
The red wines of Valladolid province are primarily made with the Tempranillo varietal and the whites with Verdejo or, increasingly, Sauvignon Blanc. In Zamora province, Tempranillo (here often called Tinta de Toro or Tinta del Pais) is equally as important but Garnacha and Juan Garcia are gaining in usage. Almost all the wines produced in both provinces are single varietals rather than blends and it is only in the Rueda DO that white wines are produced in quantity.
The Toro wines were so prestigious that King Alfonso IX of Léon conceded privileges for their production in the 12th century and Columbus took Toro wine on his 1492 expedition, because it could survive long journeys due to its structure and body.
A group of us recently wanted to experience the various Duero wines in situ, so we used the harvest festival in Toro (Fiesta de la Vendimia) in mid-October as our excuse to spend a week tasting wines, eating some wonderful Castillian tapas and looking at the scenery and architectural wonders of the area.
Our base was the Hotel Juan II in Toro, overlooking the Duero and right next to the magnificent collegiate church of Santa Maria la Mayor, a really beautiful combination of Romanesque and Gothic architecture that was begun in 1160.
Not far away was the impressive Monasterio de Sancti Spiritus, founded in 1307 and home to a lovely collection of religious art and a beautiful Romanesque cloisters. More interesting, from our point of view, was the beautiful alabaster sarcophagus of Beatriz of Portugal, only child of King Ferdinand I and, in 1383, wife and Queen Consort of King Juan I of Castille.
Our tour took us to the Los Arribes DO, a long, narrow strip of rocky slopes along the eastern banks of the Duero on the Portuguese border (the name “Arribes” derives from the Latin ad ripam, which means “on the banks of”). The terroir is so hardscrabble and dry it is amazing that any wine at all can be grown, but, in fact, we tasted some quite drinkable ones. We also had the opportunity to take a cruise in the international waters of the ”Grand Canyon” of the Arribes del Duero. It was quite spectacular.
On our way back to Toro we stopped in Zamora for a walk around the old town, a look at the cathedral built in the mid-12th century, with its graceful cupola covered with scallop tiling, and an excellent dinner in one of the province’s finest restaurants, El Rincón de Antonio, the tasting menu of which was, of course, complemented by very tasty Rueda white and Toro red wines.
The Toro Fiesta runs over four days, and, during it, the town’s population swells from just under 10,000 to about 30,000, with the influx being almost entirely Spanish tourists.
The townsfolk are dressed in medieval costume and the celebrations are capped by the Gran Torneo de Justas Medieval on Saturday afternoon in the very rustic bullring. This is an hour long pièce de theatre, by four knights-errant and their pages, of (simulated) jousting, sword play and various pranks, all played for laughs to the vast amusement of the crowd. Of course, the knight representing Castille “won”, at the expense of the insipid (and probably drunk) knight representing Portugal and the mean and ugly black knight. Cheers all around.
On a political note, our visit was just after the “referendum” vote in Catalonia, and we were struck by the vibrant nationalist spirit in evidence all around us. There were many Spanish flags displayed prominently – a practice that, until now, had been rather frowned upon as being slightly fascist. It was clear that, while the illegal vote may have been divisive vis-à-vis Catalonia, it had certainly brought the rest of Spain closer together as a nation.
Our drive back home on the Sunday (with a boot full of good Spanish wine) was about 750km, all autoroute, and covered in about six hours – leaving time for a good tapas lunch on the way. Viva España!
By Larry Hampton
I International Conference of the Temple, Spiritual Chivalry and Templarism in Almourol available in video (full lenght, all conferences and visits, 9h30m)
The Municipality of Vila Nova da Barquinha just released the full 9h30m of video that documents the full I International Conference of the Temple, Spiritual Chivalry and Templarism that took place in Almourol, Portugal in October, where the milestone Protocol of Almourol was signed.
The I Conference was the first International Event organized by the CITA (here and here), an Interpretation Center for the Order of the Temple and the Order of Christ that complements the world famous Templar Castle of Almourol.
During the Event the OSMTHU and the OSMTJ, represented respectively by Master Antonio Paris and Regent Nicholas Haimovici-Hastier, signed a Protocol with the Municipality, declaring the CITA and Almourol as an International Place of Templar Cultural Interest. Both branches of the Order also committed to the development of the library and archive available at the CITA and the organization of three yearly Conferences where members of the Order, the academic community, researchers and the general public can come together and celebrate the Templar heritage (here).
Short clip of how the collaboration came to be:
PROGRAM OF THE I CONFERENCE
The released videos extensively document the Guided Tours and the Conferences that took place along three days in October 2019. A large part of the content is in English. The footage will be edited shortly in order to make the conferences more accessible and subtitle in English those that are only available in Portuguese.
The present uncut release is, however, very useful for all those who were not able to attend and want to have access to all the discussions and groundbreaking research presented. Reviewing the videos will also provide almple reason not to miss the II International Conference to be held in Almourol in October 2020. (more info: firstname.lastname@example.org)
THE VIDEOS (Parts 1, 2 and 3)
Nicholas Haimovici-Hastier, Regent of the OSMTJ and Antonio Paris, Master of the OSMTHU
Following a few requests for information and clarification, after the new year started with one more of the many ill advised and irregular “coups d’etat” that recurrently affect fraternal groups, this one resembling the Wild West of fearless cowboys and bandits, we are pleased to make the following DECLARATION:
Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem Universal (OSMTHU)
Having started an unstoppable movement of International Cooperation between all good willing legitimate Templar Branches of the Order, announced in October 2018, confirmed by the OSMTHU and the OSMTJ in June 2019 and signed in an Agreement with the creation in October 2019 of the International Conference of Almourol between the Municipality of one of the oldest and most significant Templar locations in Europe and the OSMTHU and the OSMTJ, that will take place again in 2020, 2021 and 2022, becoming the most important single Templar location for cultural, academic and fraternal Templar exchange in the world, we declare that:
a) The Agreement Signed in Almourol, Portugal the 13 of October 2019 between the Municipality, the OSMTHU and the OSMTJ is valid until the year 2022
b) On the OSMTJ side, the Agreement was signed by Regent Nicholas Haimovici-Hastier, binding the Order and his International Council
c) Regent Haimovici-Hastier maintains his position as Head of the OSMTJ, maintaining regular status regarding the OSMTHU, the Municipality and all matters relating to the Agreement and Conferences
d) The recent mutiny perpetrated by rogue groups that had past associations with the OSMTJ is not recognized as legitimate by the OSMTHU and has no bearing in the Agreement or future efforts of International Cooperation
e) The OSMTHU recognizes that misguided ambitions and an empty hearted hunger for fragmentation frequently find safe harbor within the Order; when such forces become visible, leaving the dirt behind has been the best way to carry on with the good work
f) Since the determination to Cooperate and Converge at an international level is the scope of our work in the next few years, the Order rejects any association with irregular illegitimate movements that seek to hinder that purpose
g) We take this opportunity to invite all Templars of good faith and provenance to converge in Almourol, Portugal in October 2020 for the Second International Conference and partake the friendship and fraternal welcome extended to all men and women of heart
h) Yes, the light remains in the East
Luis de Matos
We would like to wish Regent Haimovici and his International Council a great year of 2020.