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Convent of Christ

Óbidos (Literary Village)
22 Julho, 2018
Monastery of Alcobaça
22 Julho, 2018


In 1983 UNESCO declared the Templar Castle and the Convent of Tomar Knights of Christ as WORLD HERITAGE. It is a unique monumental complex of rare beauty, set in several centuries of history. King Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, donated to the Knights of the Temple of Jerusalem a vast region between the Mondego and the Tejo, where in 1160 D. Gualdim Pais, Grand Master of the Knights Templar, would build the castle and establish the convent, which would make this place, in Tomar lands, head office of the order in Portugal. Having become too powerful, the Order of Poor Knights of the Temple (or Templar Knights) was chased by King Philip IV of France and would be extinguished in 1312 by Pope Clement V. However, in Portugal and thanks to the skillful action of King Dinis with the Holy See, the people, the goods and the privileges of the extinct order ended up being integrated into a new order, the Order of Christ (Ordem de Cristo). In 1420 Prince Henry becames the Grand Master of this new order, whose wealth was seized to finance the Portuguese Discoveries, giving it a role of considerable importance and dimension. Due to various historical changes, the Convent of Christ contains in its arquitetual set the testimonies of Romanesque art with the Templars, of Gothic and Manueline with the Age of the Discoveries, proceeding with the art of the Renaissance during the reform of the Order, and after that the mannerism, and finally the Baroque in its architectural ornaments. The rectangular nave, the convent’s church, was the private chapel of the knights. Its plan resembles the form of an octagonal prism or a drum, and it has its headquarters in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It was around the knights’ nave that developed over time the huge convent, in which is important to note all the four magnificent cloisters. Icon of this set is the famous Manueline window symbolizing the tree of life and the tree of Jesse according to the Scriptures. It is the exaltation of the imperial design of Manuel, the king, who arrogated to govern men by providential choice of God. In 1834, with the extinction of the male religious orders, the Order of Christ is extinguished, but the Queen Maria II decides to keep it as an honorary order. The Order of Christ currently still holds that dignity, and its Grand Master is the President of the Republic of Portugal.

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