For 70 years they were sequestered at both Temple Mount and the Temple of Solomon. Hence the classic conspiracy theory. Knights find lost documents in Jerusalem. Then discover the Ark of the Covenant and Holy Grail. And even today their descendants still guard the secret locations.
Want to delve deeper into the mystery? Take a Knights Templar day tour from Lisbon.
For full immersion take a Templar, Tomar and Almourol day tour from Lisbon
Yet, in the town square stands a statue of Gualdim Pais. The 12th century Christian Reconquista who became Grand Master of the Templars.
And behind him looms Convento de Cristo. Pais's mighty castle and Templar headquarters in Portugal for 400 years.
Stay right at the heart of Templar country in Residencial Avenida Hostel in Tomar.
Outside it looks more fort than convent. Inside, you'll find a Charola modelled on Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Legend says the 16-sided Charola is circular so Knights could attend Mass on horseback.
Don't miss the 16th-century Manueline Window. Its elaborate motifs represent Portugal’s maritime dominance during the reign of Manuel I.
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Their wealth and influence was vast. And they were financially astute. As rich noblemen joined the Crusades, the Templars safeguarded their wealth. In return the would be Crusaders were given letters of credit. These could be used to withdraw funds from other Templar outposts on their travels.
This system amassed a fortune for the Knights Templar. Which was then used to buy vineyards, businesses and land. In the late 12th century they owned the entire island of Cyprus.
Something had to be done to curb their influence. On Friday 13th October 1307 hundreds of Templars were arrested in France, on the orders of King Philip IV.
Various charges of heresy were levelled at the them. Including the claim that their initiation involved spitting on a cross and worshipping a demon known as Baphomet.
They retained members and resources. Convento de Cristo remained their headquarters. And they wielded influence in the birth of the Portuguese Empire.
Portuguese Grand Masters of the Order of Christ included:
Intrigued by Convento de Cristo? Stay at Thomar Boutique Hotel within walking distance of the legendary castle.
Discover the secrets of Sintra on a day tour from Lisbon with local guides.
George Lucas wrote of “Jedi-Templar” in early Star Wars' drafts. Indiana Jones found a Knight Templar guarding the Holy Grail in the Last Crusade.
Conspiracy theories conflate historic Knights Templar with modern Freemasonry. There are warnings a of shadowy globalist elite establishing a New World Order.
What's certain is the monuments left behind in Portugal by the Knights Templar are among the country's finest.
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