As mentioned in a previous post, I dealt with some health issues on my first day. Yesterday evening I made the tough decision to not walk today. I didn’t want to risk getting more ill, and since it was another 30km+ distance, I hopped a ride to Tomar. After making my decision, it felt like a small failure, but it allowed me to have a good sleep and leisurely day.
I arrived into Tomar to 39 degrees and dropped my bags at the pensione. My room wasn’t ready, which I thought may be the case so I had prepared a day bag with (you guessed it) water, hat and sunscreen. I climbed way up to spend the afternoon at the Knights Templar Castle and Convent of Christ.
The walk up was a steep 11thC path of cobbles with some risers built for drainage that acted as quasi steps. When I got to the top a typical tourist cafe with inflated prices awaited – I was thrilled to finally find an ice cold coke. On a day of intensive heat, only ice cold beer or coke will do. There were not many really cold drinks down below in the town.
The castle has world heritage status and I’ve never seen such a large, well preserved piece of architecture. Built from stone, not only was it a cool place to spend the afternoon, but the sheer imposing nature of it, overseeing the town below was mind-boggling. I learned about Manueline style, which is at the end of high gothic and is based on hyper-realism, the main church was built so that the Knights could attend Mass whilst in horseback, they built a furnace room that had ducts to all the chambers for heating, and the Knights Templar were avid protectors of pilgrims on the Santiago route. The main entryway takes visitors through the Portas de Santiago, and I got to see the pilgrim dormitories.
When the Templar Order was re-branded as the Order of Christ in the 1300s, there continued history as we know it with various Grand Masters, Kings and Rulers all assuming position as Big Cheese. Over the centuries, the various personalities and architectural eras a resulted in a wide sweep of Romanesque, Arabic, Manueline and Renaissance styles – all remarkable preserved.
It was a good day in Tomar and tomorrow I walk again. Glad I took the day to take care of myself. Although not 100% yet, I feel ready to assume the path again. There are a ton more images of Tomar, on my Facebook page: facebook.com/michybinkley