In I983, UNESCO classified the Templar Castle and the Convent of the Knights of Christ in Tomar, a unique monument in the history of the western world, as world heritage.
Quite probably built on a site of Roman worship, as is borne out by the stone taken from the sacrificial altar to the ''Genio Municipi'' and laid at the base of the Templar tower, this vast monument illustrates seven centuries of Portugal's history and contains important mementoes of decisive moments in the history of the western world.
The Order of the Templars was founded in 1119 after the recapture of Santarém. In 1160, their Great Master, Gualdim Pais, built the Castle of Tomar on a hill near the river. After the suppression of the order in 1314, King Dinis then founded a new order - the Order of Christ - that was transferred to Tomar in 1356. This helped finance Prince Henry the Navigator's voyages of discovery in the 14th and 15th centuries, during which his ships bore the Order's red cross on their sails.
Tomar's main attraction is the Convent of Christ, built over a period of 600 years from the 12th to the 17th centuries. This impressive structure comprises 7 cloisters, a temple, a church and a huge bell tower.