09 Dec 2007 • 1,154 views
Convent of Christ and Templar stronghold, Tomar
My eighth group of pictures from the Convent of Christ, and the only one that concentrates on a single place within the huge complex of buildings.
It was while in the church that this hymn, from my childhood, came into my head.
This is a Youtube link to ~ When a Knight Won his Spurs, by Libera ~
Libera is a group of boys aged 9 - 16 from London. This version was filmed at the Temple Church in London. Please listen, I'm sure you will enjoy it.
Here are the words in case the link doesn't work well, the lyrics were written by Jan Struther
When a knight won his spurs, in the stories of old,
He was gentle and brave, he was gallant and bold;
With a shield on his arm and a lance in his hand
For God and for valour he rode through the land.
No charger have I, and no sword by my side,
Yet still to adventure and battle I ride,
Though back into storyland giants have fled,
And the knights are no more and the dragons are dead.
Let faith be my shield and let joy be my steed
'Gainst the dragons of anger, the ogres of greed;
And let me set free, with the sword of my youth,
From the castle of darkness the power of the truth.
Back to the church now.
I don't know why it is called the Charola, but this is the centre of the round church which can be seen to the right of my first group of pictures ~ here ~
It was built around 1190 A.D, so is over a eight hundred years old.
This magnificent church, and it is truly
magnificent, a worthy headquarters of a religious order. The Charola has an eight-sided arched central structure, surrounded by near-circular sixteen-sided walls (which is why the inner walls are narrower than the outer walls, giving a curious perspective). I understand the design is based on the The Dome of the Rock
and ~ The Church of the Holy Sepulchre ~
in Jerusalem. The arches are huge, everything is built tall and wide enough for a knight on his horse to approach the altar, which is there in the middle, not tucked away at one end.
The decoration is breathtaking. Gorgeously coloured mediaeval painting covers every piece of stonework. There are also panels are believed to have been painted by Jorge Afonso, court painter to both King Manuel I and King Philip III, in the early 1500s.
Just round the left corner is a massive 'pipe', like an organ pipe but this one reaches from about head height and up to the ceiling and is about eighteen inches across. I simply can't remember the details, but think it must have been a summons of some sort. The sound would certainly carry a huge distance.
All the pictures are hand-held, because although cameras are permitted neither flash photography, tripods or monopods are allowed to be used, for obvious reasons.
The lower part of the central pillars have suffered quite a lot of damage, none deliberate - probably just from people's clothing brushing against the paintings. There is a conservation programme in progress.
If you would like to see a luscious 360 degrees panorama look at ~ Tomar - Convento de Cristo - Igreja ~
If you live in or near Newport, Rhode Island, you might be interested to read about ~ The Portuguese Tower of Newport ~
It's apparently based on the Portuguese design here at Tomar.
If you would like to read more about the history of Templars in Portugal look at this page of Rod Thorn's historical site ~ Tomar, Headquarters of The Order of Christ ~
The ~ Unesco ~
description of The Convent of Christ is as follows:-
Originally designed as a monument symbolizing the Reconquest, the Convent of the Knights Templar of Tomar (transferred in 1344 to the Knights of the Order of Christ) came to symbolize just the opposite during the Manueline period – the opening up of Portugal to other civilizations.