Templar Sites

Gaztelugatxe – Hundreds of stone stairs and a winding medieval bridge connect this haunting Spanish island to the mainland

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SITTING OFF THE BASQUE COAST of Spain, the tiny island of Gaztelugatxe would probably just be another tiny isle left off of maps and all but forgotten, were it not for the fantastical stone bridge and famed steps that connect its single hermitage to the mainland.

Today, the crooked stone bridge that connects Gaztelugatxe to the shore looks more like something that one might see on Game of Thrones,  but when it was originally built in the 11th century, the span was simply a sturdy lifeline to the religious hermitage erected atop the sea crag. The structure, along with its attendant stone path seems to have been established by the Knights Templar. Down the centuries, the little church has been sacked, burned, and otherwise destroyed, but was rebuilt each time.

The church is still standing on the little rock, looking, maybe more enticing than ever, its history simply adding to its charm. The ancient bridge and the hundreds of stairs leading up to the church are still a popular tourist attraction and can be accessed by a well-groomed modern path. Along the bridge are smaller staircases that lead down to reflecting spots at the edge of the water. The hermitage can also be visited, and legend says that after ascending the old staircase, visitors should make a wish.

Whether or not you are interested in ancient construction or churches at all, doesn’t really matter as this spot can just as easily be appreciated for its uncanny resemblance to a location you might use in a Dungeons & Dragons game.   

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Conferência em Caféde

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A Real Associação da Beira Interior, no dia 04 de Abril, organizou uma palestra com
apoio da União de Freguesias de Póvoa de Rio de Moinhos e Caféde, no edifício da
Junta de Freguesia de Caféde. O tema da palestra foi “A Ordem dos Templários –
Caféde Terra Templária”, os oradores convidados foram o professor, historiador André
Gonçalves e o professor e historiador Hermínio Esteves.

Na Mesa estiveram os oradores, a Presidente da União de Freguesias de Póvoa
de Rio de Moinhos e Caféde – Ana Sofia Ramos Pereira, e o Grande Secretário da Real
Associação da Bieira Interior – Rui Mateus.

Nos lugares de destaque esteve o Grão – Prior de Portugal da OSMTH – Paris –
Francisco Moção Leão, o Grão – Prior Ibérico da OSMTHU – Luís de Matos, o Grão –
Prior de Espanha da OSMTH – Magnus Magisterium – Francisco de Miguel Fernández
e o Grão – Prior de Portugal da OSMTH – Magnus Magisterium – João Magro.
Também estiveram presentes o Vice-Presidente / Secretário da União de
Freguesias de Póvoa de Rio de Moinhos e Caféde – Sérgio Silva e a Tesoureira da Unão
de Freguesias de Póvoa de Rio de Moinhos e Caféde – Paula Esteves Dias.

ANDRÉ GONÇALVES:
Iniciou a palestra referindo marcos importantes da história da Ordem do Templo.
Durante os séculos XI e XII, salientou 1095 com o apelo do papa Urbano II para a
reconquista de Jerusalém e 1096/109, período da concretização da 1ª cruzada. Foi na
sequência desta que em 1118 foi fundada, por 9 Cavaleiros, a Ordem dos Templários,
sendo o primeiro Grão – Mestre – Hugo de Payens -, a qual foi reconhecida pela Santa
Sé e o Papa Honório II, em 1128, no Concílio de Troyes. Neste mesmo ano já se regista
a sua presença no Condado Portucalense.

Conforme é citado por Manuel da Silva Castelo Branco, os Templários no século
XIII deram um grande contributo para o povoamento de Caféde e no néculo XVI, por
decisão do Rei Dom Manuel I, Caféde passa a fazer parte da Comenda dos Escalos de
Cima, sempre sob influência templária.

André Gonçalves, destacou outras grandes datas dos séculos XII e XIII a
respeito da Ordem dos Templários, nomeadamente 1139 (obediência exclusiva ao
Papa), 1146 (adopção da capa branca com a cruz vermelha), 1252 (ameaça por parte do
Rei Henrique III de Inglaterra de confiscar terras à Ordem dos Templários) e 1291
(queda de Jerusalém e o início do declínio dos Templários).

Em 1305, a eleição do Papa Clemente V e o “Cativeiro de Avinhão”, abriram
caminho ao processo contra os Templários, tendo o último Grão – Mestre dos
Templários – Jaques de Molay – sido queimado na fogueira em 1314.
Na sequência da extinção da Ordem dos Templários o Rei Dom Dinis I pediu ao
Papa a continuidade da Ordem em Portugal.

Desse pedido resultou um processo concluído em 1319 com a instituição da
Ordem de Cristo, a qual teve grande influência e importância em Portugal, patentes na
presença da sua cruz em vários monumentos e nas bandeiras dos navios que
protagonizaram a grande epopeia dos descobrimentos.

Entre os símbolos Templários/Ordem de Cristo salientam-se a bandeira, o selo e
o equipamento militar e os seus vestígios estão presentes no castelo de Tomar, no
Convento de Cristo, no Castelo de Castelo Branco e a sua cruz encontra-se em diversos
edifícios, nomeadamente, na zona de Castelo Branco.

HERMÍNIO ESTEVES
O Condado Portucale fundado por Vimara Peres em 868. O Condado Portucalense
oferecido ao Conde Dom Henrique de Borgonha em 1095.

Os Templários chegam a Portugal com Dona Teresa de Leão em 1125, 3 antes
da sua oficialização pela Santa Sé e o Papa Honório II. Em 1126 Dona Teresa doou aos
Templários a Vila da Ponte da Arcada além de outras 17 doações. Em 14-IV-1128 Dona
Teresa dou-a aos Templários o Castelo de Soure, local da sede dos Templários em
Portugal até 1147.

Em 1129 Dom Afonso Henriques aparece como Irmão da Ordem dos
Templários. Em 1139 0 Papa Inocêncio II, concede grandes privilégios à Ordem dos
Templários com a Bula Omne datum Optimus. 1147 com ajuda da Ordem dos
Templários e parcialmente com ajuda da Ordem de Cister Dom Afonso Henriques
conquista Santarém, nesse ano a Sede passa de Soure para Santarém.
Os Templários eram notáveis monges / guerreiros que nunca se rendiam.
Em 1209, Fernando Sanches dou aos Templários a Vila Franca da Cardosa, em
1214 o Rei Dom Afonso II dou-a aos Templários a Herdade da Cardosa.
Em 1199 doação aos Templários da Açafa.

Em meados do Século XIV, possuíam um vasto território com as terras de
Idanha à Gardunha, o planalto de Castelo Branco até ao Tejo, Cova da Beira, terras de
Ródão e Vila de Rei.

A Comenda de Castelo Branco: Mercóles, Belgaio, Palvarinho, Caféde, Escalos
de Cima, Mata, Alcains, Escalos de Fundo integrados na Granja da Tolosa.
A presença Templária em terras do actual Distrito de Castelo Branco.

HERMÍNIO ESTEVES
Começou por referir a fundação do Condado de Portucale de Vimara Peres e
núcleo original em Guimarães (868), para depois salientar a chegada de Henrique de
Borgonha que, ao casar com D. Teresa, filha bastarda de Afonso VI de Leão e Castela,
recebeu o governo do Condado Portucalense em 1095.

Os Templários chegam a Portugal com Dona Teresa de Leão, viúva do conde D.
Henrique, em 1125, três anos antes da sua oficialização pela Santa Sé e o Papa Honório
II. Em 1126 Dona Teresa doou aos Templários a Vila da Ponte da Arcada além de
outras 17 doações. Em 14-IV-1128, três meses depois do Concílio de Troyes, Dona
Teresa doou aos Templários o Castelo de Soure, que foi sede dos Templários em
Portugal até 1147, ano da conquista de Santarém, na qual os Templários participaram e
para onde passou a sede da Ordem. Os Templários participaram ainda nas batalhas de
Santarém, Lisboa, Sintra, Almada, Palmela, Alcácer do Sal, Évora e Beja. Em 1129
Dom Afonso Henriques aparece já como Irmão da Ordem dos Templários.
Destacou a importância de S. Bernardo de Claraval na organização da Ordem e
na definição dos princípios básicos que deviam nortear a sua actividade. Foi a S.
bernardo que D. Afonso Henriques solicitou a instalação em Portugal da Ordem de
Cister, cujo primeiro núcleo monástico se estabeleceu em Alcobaça.

Em 1139 o Papa Inocêncio II, concede grandes privilégios à Ordem dos
Templários com a Bula Omne datum Optimus.
Os Templários eram notáveis monges / guerreiros que nunca se rendiam. uma força
militar única, já que um templário nunca se rendia, aceitava a morte como um prémio,
lutava antes pelos bens sobrenaturais do que pelos bens terrenos, como também uma
força moral inigualável. (…) Rodeando o rei os seus mestres e freires-cavaleiros de
elite, instauravam um padrão ético e cavalheiresco incitante e fascinante, na
subordinação dos valores materiais aos espirituais”. (António Quadros, Portugal, Razão
e Mistério, vol. 1, Lisboa, 1999, p. 175).

No início do séc. XIII, no ano de 1209, Fernando Sanches faz «doação aos
Templários de uma herdade que ele chama Villa Franca da Cardosa». Fernando Sanches
seria filho de D. Garcia Mendes, sobrinho de D. Gonçalo Mendes e de D. Rodrigo
Mendes, vultos da nossa nobreza dos primeiros tempos da nacionalidade, descendentes
por bastardia do Conde D. Henrique.

Os Templários foram a primeira Ordem Militar a estabelecer-se e a receber terras na
região (1165). Durante os séculos seguintes, e especialmente durante o séc. XIII, graças
à Reconquista, em que tiveram papel preponderante, foram aumentando as suas terras e
as suas rendas.

Além de várias vilas e aldeias, possuíam diversas propriedades – casais, herdades,
vinhas e chãos – destacando-se as herdades de Vide, Aldeia Nova, Silvares, Cabeço da
Atalaia, Castelo Branco; um chão na vila da Covilhã, onde a Ordem em 1230 possuía já
uma Comenda, um casal em Alcongosta, e duas vinhas, uma em Castelo Novo e outra
em Monsanto.

Em meados do Século XIV, os domínios da Ordem na região englobavam um
vasto território que incluía as terras de Idanha à Gardunha, o planalto de Castelo Branco
até ao Tejo, Cova da Beira, terras de Ródão e Vila de Rei.

Com a extinção da Ordem dos Templários, foi instituída a Ordem de Cristo pelo
Rei D. Dinis em 1318 e confirmada pela Bula Ad ea ex quibus dada pelo Papa João
XXII em Avinhão, em Março de 1319. A Bula foi emitida a pedido do Rei D. Dinis
para que a Ordem sucedesse à Ordem do Templo, extinta em 1311 pelo Papa Clemente
V.

A Comenda de Castelo Branco: Mercóles, Belgaio, Palvarinho, Caféde, Escalos
de Cima, Mata, Alcains, Escalos de Fundo integrados na Granja da Tolosa.
A presença Templária em terras do actual Distrito de Castelo Branco ficou
representada nos seus castelos, que se destacam os de Castelo Branco, Castelo Novo,
Idanha-a-Velha, Idanha-a-Nova, Penamacor, Proença-a-Velha e Ródão.

Execution Site of Jacques de Molay

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ON MARCH 18, 1314, JACQUES de Molay was burnt at the stake near this site on Ile de Cite in the middle of the Seine in Paris. Up to the moment of his untimely demise, he was the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, a powerful religious organization established during the Crusades.

The Knights Templar had amassed a great deal of wealth and influence and thus became targets of retribution, both by the ruling classes of France led by King Philip IV and the Catholic Church headed by Pope Clement V.

Trumped up charges of sodomy and blasphemy were brought against the religious order, and Molay and several other Knights were arrested and made to confess to these crimes. They were most likely tortured by Inquisitors hired by the pope. The French king himself had borrowed a great sum of money from the Knights Templar and saw this as an opportunity to confiscate the massive amount of wealth and land they possessed. Each man had a reason to find the incarcerated parties guilty, and thus the Knights were doomed to fail.

Continuing to protest his innocence even while on the smoldering pyre, Molay is said to have shouted out a curse on both the king and pope. He reputedly swore that neither men nor their descendants would live beyond one year and one day from this injustice. And, it is true that both Pope Clement V and King Philip IV died within a year of the execution, though it would take another 14 years to wipe out the lineage of the king.

Located behind the Statue of Henri IV riding a horse, on Pont Neuf Bridge. There are two sets of stairs, both will lead you down to Square du Vert Galant. There are several plaques, in French, telling you the story of Jacques de Molay. There are stories that he was burnt in front of Notre Dame, but he did indeed meet his demise on Ile de Cite.

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The Village of Monsanto – Houses are tucked between, on, and underneath giant boulders

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IN 1938, THE VILLAGE OF Monsanto was dubbed the most “Portuguese town in Portugal.” Yet at first glance, Monsanto certainly does not seem representative of the entire country. For one thing, most Portuguese houses are not sandwiched between gigantic boulders.

Defined by its landscape, Monsanto hangs off a mountaintop overlooking the Portuguese countryside, with views for miles.The mountaintop has actually been extremely important strategic position since prehistoric times. It’s crowned by the remains of a Templar castle, which was partially destroyed by an explosion, in the 19th century.

The village has hardly changed in hundreds of years, and enjoys distinction in Portugal as a living museum. Due to this standing, Monsanto cannot be changed and has retained its classic village charm.

Its tiny streets wind at a steep grade past red-roofed cottages tucked against mossy boulders. Some of the boulders are actually fitted with doors, leading to structures carved right into the rocky landscape.

While the mountainous town seems a bit unorthodox, it is actually a unique twist on classic Portuguese architecture.

Walking along the cobbled streets it soon becomes evident that Monsanto is a microcosm of Portugal. The architecture even incorporates the Portuguese Manueline style on a number of buildings and a church. While it certainly represents the classic Portuguese village style, visitors will no doubt be more impressed with the cottages built in boulder chic than medieval Romanesque or Manueline.

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Abbazia di Valvisciolo (Valvisciolo Abbey)

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THE BEAUTIFUL ABBEY OF VALVISCIOLO (from the Italian “Valle dell’Usignolo”, Valley of the Nightingale) can be found between the gardens of Ninfa and the medieval town of Sermoneta, set against a backdrop of central Italy’s Lepini mountains. 

Though we know very little about the earliest history of the abbey, it dates back to at least the 12th century, if not earlier. It was founded by Greek Basilian monks, and supposedly occupied by the Knights Templar in the 13th century. Legend has it that the Church’s architraves broke when the Templar Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, was burnt at the stake in 1314 (the Order had been suppressed and its members persecuted).

Traces of the abbey’s Templar past are believed to be subtle but very significant. A small templar cross is carved on the rose window on the façade, and the crack in the architrave is visible just underneath. More templar crosses have been spotted inside the church and on the ceilings of the cloister.

But one of the the abbey’s most interesting features is a very small carving on the wall that you walk past to enter the cloister. Sheltered by a transparent screen, you will find an unusual palindromic SATOR inscription. Its shape is not square, like those found elsewhere, but instead five concentric circles, crossed by five lines that divide the circles into five sectors that contain five letters. The palindrome is read in the following way in any direction: Sator Arepo Tenet Opera Rotas. The exact meaning of the inscription is unclear.

If you look carefully, you might also spot several carvings of Solomon’s knot (which has been interpreted as a metaphor of one’s esoteric journey in search of the self and of truth) and of the omphalos, the sacred center of the world. All of these carvings were discovered during restorations of the cloister and they might provide a mysterious testimony of the presence of the Knights Templar and of their spiritual symbolism.

Today, the Romanesque-Cistercian style abbey is home to Cistercian monks. The church has three naves divided by pillars and columns and bare walls, as the Cistercian tradition that avoids architectural splendor to emphasize the importance of the spiritual over the material.

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Convento de Cristo

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A MAGNIFICENT CASTLE OVERLOOKS THE river Nabão. It is known as a convent, but it was built in 1160 as a headquarters for the Knights Templar, the formidable Catholic military that answered to the Pope.

When sovereigns feared the Pope had too much power, they annihilated the Knights Templar. In France, many were burned at the stake. In Portugal however, King Denis I took pity, and instead renamed the knights the Order of Christ. This new order would answer to the King, but was later demilitarized and converted to an entirely religious order.

The subsequent heads of the Order added on to the castle in the centuries to follow. Additions included cloisters, connecting corridors, an aqueduct, and an expanded chapel, not to mention decadent ironworks, paintings, and tapestries. All of these were built in the various prevailing styles of the day, from Romanesque to Gothic to Renaissance. The greatest architectural draw is the Manueline chapel, an ornate architectural style found only in Portugal.

Today, the Convento de Cristo is preserved as a museum. It has been a World Heritage site since 1983. The striking architecture, beautiful gardens, and unparalleled view offered by the hilltop castle don’t disappoint.

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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.”

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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

Isla de San Simón – Small, lush island has a long and bloody history

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ON THE ISLAND OF SAN Simón (Pontevedra, Spain), Canarian palms grow alongside acacia and eucalyptus. A pathway lined with boxwood trees known as the Paseo de los Buxos welcomes visitors to the small island off the coast of Vigo, Spain.

The Isla de San Simón is part of the San Simón archipelago along with several other islets. These small spits of land are part of an estuary environment that supports important biodiversity.

Though it currently has no permanent residents, San Simón has seen a number of inhabitants over the years. The earliest records of inhabitance dates back to the 12th century when a monastery founded by the Order of the Temple was established on the island. The Knights Templar (…) were the island’s main residents until the 14th century, when it was abandoned. 

Over the following centuries, San Simón saw a number of naval battles and was used as a hiding place for valuable cargo. From 1838 to 1927 the island housed a quarantine station for those with serious contagious diseases including cholera and leprosy.

Not long after the quarantine site shut down, its buildings were repurposed for use as a penal colony during the Spanish Civil War. Political prisoners from all over Spain were held at the camp, where they were subjected to inhumane living conditions and mass executions. The camp was shut down in 1948.

Today, the Spanish government has turned San Simón into an “Isla del Pensamiento” (“Island of Thought”), meant to honor the history of the island and inspire deep, creative thought. In addition to the historic buildings, sculptures scattered across the island memorialize different parts of its heritage. A partially submerged monument on the east shore commemorates San Simón’s appearance in Jules Verne’s 1870 novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

The island houses ancient graveyards, sculpture gardens, and surprises around every turn. It can only be accessed by boat.

in atlasobscura.com [edited]

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