Templars

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

Templar Grand Priory of Portugal Confers Knighthood, October 2021

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The Templar Grand Priory of Portugal (OSMTHU) has met in National Chapter to confer Knighthood. As the Grand Priory still performs the a very long and private ceremony, that follows traditional liturgy, including full vigil and final instruction, just a short glimpse is available in the form of a 1 minute clip. It is also a requirement of the Order that the names of those upon whom Knighthood was conferred should be named. We welcome to the Order Dame Maria de Lurdes Polainas, DTJ; Fr+ António Polainas, KTJ; Fr+ Fernando Miranda, KTJ; Fr+ Fernando Pereira, KTJ and Fr+ Luis Ferreira, KTJ. We wish to thank singer Helena Lourenço for lending a celestial dimension to an already unforgettable spiritual experience.

O Grão Priorado de Portugal da OSMTHU reuniu-se em Capítulo Nacional para conferir a Cavalaria. Uma vez que os Templários Portugueses ainda realizam a cerimónia seguindo a liturgia tradicional, muito longa, que inclui a vigília completa e instrução final, de carácter interior, apenas um breve vislumbre está disponível na forma de um clip de 1 minuto. É também um requisito da Ordem que os nomes daqueles a quem a Cavalaria for conferida sejam tornados públicos. Damos por isso as boas-vindas à Ordem aos novos Irmãos e Irmãs Dama Maria de Lurdes Polainas, DTJ; Fr + António Polainas, KTJ; Fr + Fernando Miranda, KTJ; Fr + Fernando Pereira, KTJ e Fr + Luis Ferreira, KTJ. Gostaríamos finalmente de agradecer à cantora Helena Lourenço por emprestar uma dimensão celestial a uma experiência espiritual já de si inesquecível.

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

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 International is launched on Pentecost day 2020

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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

Estremoz – Alentejo’s Historic White City

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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
|| features@algarveresident.com

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.

Evoramonte’s picturesque 16th century castle

Clean water used to be supplied to Elvas by an impressive aqueduct

The colourful ‘Estremoz Bonecos’ are a form of folk art
dating back over three centuries

The castle tower is constructed from white marble

Access to the old city is via one of the medieval gates

The splendid Convento dos Congregados is also home to the museum of sacred art

Estremoz Castle and Pousada are nicely seen from the picturesque Lago de Gadanha

Colourful Alentejo ceramics were on sale

The aroma of chorizo wafted through the market

The delights of the Duero River Valley

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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

The mean and ugly black knight having a sword fight with the good knight (in red) representing Castille during the Gran Torneo Medieval in Toro’s bull ring

The Toro Clock Tower (Torre del Reloj), seen looking down on some of the revellers during Toro’s harvest festival

A view of the lovely cloisters in the Monasterio de Sancti Spiritus in Toro

The alabaster sarcophagus of Beatriz of Portugal in the Monasterio de Sancti Spiritus

The mid-12th century Zamora Cathedral

Ancient wine barrels in the vast cellars of the Menade winery deep underground in La Seca in Rueda

A view of the Duero River, with Portugal on the left and Spain on the right

The beautiful 12th Century Collegiate church of Santa Maria la Mayor in Toro

A typical display of the Spanish flag in the Plaza Mayor of Zafra

I International Conference of the Temple, Spiritual Chivalry and Templarism in Almourol available in video (full lenght, all conferences and visits, 9h30m)

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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: osmthu@mail.com)

THE VIDEOS (Parts 1, 2 and 3)

Pentecost Benedictio Militis, Arraiolos 2019

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The beautiful round castle of Arraiolos, Portugal, once held by the Order of Christ, was the centerpiece of the traditional Pentecost celebrations of the Grand Priory of Portugal of the OSMTHU.

Just like the Templar Beauceant, the flag with a white field and black field, the traditional adoubement ceremony takes place in the light and in the dark. It starts during the day but soon it goes into the depthness of night, from an opened enlightened world into a closed tight womb of meditation where the future knight in silent vigil hopes for the deliverance of light. In hope and faith, the knight is delivered.

Study and Instruction time

Time to savor the fruits of fraternal friendship

Preparing for sunset – the light subsides to darkness

In darkness we work in hope of light

Great blessings come to those who wait

“Veni, Créator Spíritus,

Mentes tuórum visita,

Imple suprema grátia,

Que tu creásti, péctora.

Qui díceris Paráclitus,

Donum Dei altíssimi,

Fons vivus, ignis, cáritas

Et spiritális únctio.

Tu septifórmis múnere,

Dextrae Dei tu digitus,

Tu rite promissum Patris

Sermóne ditans gúttura.

Accénde lumen sénsibus

Infúnde amórem córdibus,

Infírma nostri córporis,

Virtúte firmans pérpeti.

Hostem repéllas lóngius

Pacémque dones prótinus;

Ductóre sic te praévio

Vitémus omne nóxium.

Per te sciámus da Patrem

Noscámus atque Filium,

Te utriúsque Spíritum

Credámus omni témpore. Amen.”

Castro Marim – Comemoração dos 700 anos da fundação da Ordem de Cristo

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Comemorar os 700 anos da Ordem de Cristo é uma alegria sem medida. Não é relembrar um momento no passado, é antes reafirmar um propósito e uma esperança no futuro.

Quero assim agradecer em meu nome, em nome da Ordem Soberana e Militar do Templo de Jerusalém Universal, como seu Chanceler internacional e Prior em Portugal, o convite da Câmara Municipal de Castro Marim – a que respondemos com entusiasmo – bem como a presença e colaboração dos muitos amigos, Irmãs e Irmãs e simples turistas que passavam e vieram saber de que tratava a agitação.

Gostaria de destacar, pelo conteúdo e qualidade, a intervenção do principal autor Português na temática Templária e da Portuguesia, Manuel J. Gandra, que destacou algumas das passagens mais reveladoras e até intrigantes da Bula de criação da Ordem de Cristo, em que se deixa clara a continuidade da do Templo, assunto sobre o qual muitos escrevem, mas poucos de facto concretizam.

Destaco igualmente o apoio permanente e verdadeira militância espiritual das Comendas do nosso Priorado e dos seus membros individualmente, que se viram desta vez apoiados pela visita de Irmãos e Irmãs de outros ramos da Ordem, quer do Algarve, quer mesmo de Espanha, num exemplo de cooperação e convívio fraternal até há pouco tempo inaudito, numa época em que tão facilmente caímos no erro de dividir o mundo em “nós” e “eles”. A todos o nosso agradecimento e aos visitantes, a certeza de que este foi o início de muitos projectos em que com eles contamos.

Sublinho o desempenho exemplar do nosso corpo litúrgico, liderado pelo Comendador de Lisboa e Bispo da Old Templar Church, apoiado nesta ocasião pelo Comendador de Laccobriga, pelos Grandes Oficias Preceptor e Hospitaleiro e demais Irmãos e Irmãs, que ficarão anónimos. Sabemos quem são, sentimos no profundo do coração o efeito do vosso trabalho.

Finalmente, terminando como comecei, sabendo bem o que custa organizar, gerir e montar um evento desta natureza num dos lugares maiores da nossa história, destaco o profissionalismo, o carinho e a paciência como a Câmara Municipal de Castro Marim nos recebeu, Agradeço ao Presidente Francisco Amaral, à sua Vice-Presidente Filomena Pascoal Sintra pela insuperável simpatia e atenção bem como a toda a equipa camarária, cujo esforço e dedicação não passou despercebido. Bem hajam.

Para o ano há que reavivar a memória. Castro Marim e a Ordem de Cristo são património de todos nós, todo o ano, Há que não o esquecer. Possamos ser dignos de tal herança.

Luis de Matos
Prior Geral
osmthu.org

This is NOT the face of a Templar – It’s the face of human stupidity on steroids

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Once again – too often it seems – a massacre opened the news and grabbed headlines worldwide. The attack of a fanatic on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, left almost 50 killed and many wounded. It was a mad rampage carefully planned and broadcast live on social media for the world to see and discuss.

The fuel of these kind of acts is our attention and the perpetuation of it in time by the outrage for terrorism of any kind, poured by us on social media. Our comments and often polarized remarks prolongue the effect the terrorist had in mind. So, I for one am going to shut it down and extinguish the flame of hatred and bigotry this piece of provocation intended to stir. It won’t feed it with my energy.

The only reason why I see myself compelled to make a statement is simply because – as it has happened in the relative recent past – the name of the Templar Order was used to justify the misadjustment of individuals and the criminal way they decided to adjust reality to their personal illusory self constructed hell. In a document left behind as a sort of “Manifest”, giving the illusion that something deeper than a human free willing sense of pathological narcissism and god-like power over life and death was behind the killing, the attacker says: (quote) “[Before the massacre] I did contact the reborn Knights Templar for a blessing in support of the attack, which was given.”

To this I have 3 short statements that I plea should not even be discussed further:

1 – The Templars do not need to be “reborn”

2 – The Order does not support terrorism in any shape or form, from any group or side, even given the obvious historical anachronism of the quoted line

3 – This is NOT the face of a Templar – It’s the face of human stupidity on steroids

 

Luis de Matos, Eques a Flamula Veritatis

International Chancellor

Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jersusalem Universal