The Convent of Christ in Tomar is a combination of a castle and a convent, used by the Knights Templar.
In 1160 the building of the castle was started. The land (like many more around Southern Europe) was given by the Portuguese king to the Order of the Knights Templar, in return for their support against the Moors.
The convent was added later, as an extension to the castle. The Templar Order was dissolved in 1312 but their property in Portugal was transferred to the Order of Christ which was created in 1319. This new military order would undertake an important role in Portuguese overseas expansion in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Charola #1 Picture
Charola #2 Picture
Its octagonal church, called the Charola, is modeled on the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Eight tall, delicate pillars separate the central chapel from the outer aisle that encircles it. This unusual shape for a church was designed so that the knights could attend Mass on horseback – one of the many unique privileges this order enjoyed. Sharp-eyed visitors can still see the red cross of the Templars in the painted decoration of one of its pillars.