River Nabão in Tomar, Portugal

Three different views of the picturesque Nabão River in the City of Tomar in Portugal


City of Tomar, Portugal’s historical jewel

The City of Tomar is one of the most beautiful small cities in the world, located in central Portugal on the banks of Nabão River, which divides Tomar in two, and is crossed by six bridges. In this city you can also find a beautiful luxuariant area called Mouchão Park, located right in the middle of the town. Tomar is both a picturesque and an historical place, and Wikipedia underlines this fact by saying that: “Tomar is one of Portugal’s historical jewels”. Among the many reasons for that, is the Castle of Tomar and the Convent of Christ which are listed since 1983 in the UNESCO World Heritage.

The world renowned Convent of Christ in Tomar, is a mix of Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance but what makes the difference is the Manueline style, a specific Portuguese architectural style based on late Gothic and inspired by the Portuguese maritime discoveries. The convent of Christ was built in the 12th century and was a stronghold of the Templars. It was first known as the Convent of the Knights Templar, but later became the Convent of Christ, taking the name of the new order formed in the 14th century.

The Castle of Tomar, Charola and the Convent of Christ

The Convent of Christ, Charola or Round Church and the Castle of Tomar


It is also in the Convent of Christ that you can find the Round Church or Charola as it is known in Portuguese. One of the main attributes of the Round Church is its profuse and exuberant architecture and decoration, a magnificent masterpiece and a supreme example of the Portuguese architectural ornamentation called Manueline Style, which incorporates motifs brought from the maritime travels of the Portuguese navigators around the world, among them Vasco da Gama and Pedro Alvares Cabral. Charola is the reflection of the order of the Knights Templars’ and the order of Christ wealth and it seems to have been built to emulate the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

Charola and the Chapter Window at the Convent of Christ in Tomar

The left and right images refer to the Round Church inside, and the one in the middle is the famous Chapter Window at the Convent of Christ


The City of Tomar whose inhabitants are known as Tomarenses or Nabantinos, was founded in 1162 by Dom Gualdim Pais, the Grand Master of the Order of the Knights Templar, who at the time served the first King of Portugal, Dom Afonso Henriques. The story of Portugal says that Gualdim Pais and his army managed to defend the Castle of Tomar when the Almoravids of the kingdom of Morocco invaded the town. Despite being greatly outnumbered Gualdim Pais and his knights were able to defend the city.

As mentioned before, Tomar is also the centre of the Portuguese maritime discoveries in the 15th Century. It was here that Henry the Navigator who was the son of the King of Portugal John I, planned the Portuguese maritime discoveries throughout the world in the 15th Century. Countries like Brazil wouldn’t be speaking Portuguese and wouldn’t have the same frontiers if it wasn’t for the fact that Prince Henry planned the Portuguese maritime adventures in the City of Tomar. It was in Tomar that a school of navigators was built in Arches street (Rua dos Arcos). If you visit that street in Tomar, you can see some arches that were part of the school of Navigators. It was some kind of hostel for astronomers, geologists, cartographers and sailors.

The statues in Tomar of Gualdim Pais and Henry the Navigator

These are the statues of Gualdim Pais, founder of the City of Tomar and Henry the Navigator, the mastermind of the Portuguese maritime discoveries


Scattered throughout the City of Tomar there are many medieaval streets paved with cobblestones. In medieval times cobblestones were used in most of the narrow streets of Tomar and today you can still see them there. However since this material was gradually replaced by macadam, tarmac and asphalt pavements, in recent times cobblestones pavements became an upmarket alternative. Though many cobblestone streets in Tomar are very old, recently some pavements have been covered with artistic more modern cobblestones. Furthermore, you can also appreciate the architecture of old houses, with Renaissance, Baroque and Romantic façades.

Medieval streets in Tomar, Portugal

These are some of the medieval streets in the City of Tomar, which are usually paved with cobblestones


This site has more than 1000 photos and I may have written more than 60,000 words about Tomar, but despite this, there’s nothing like visiting Portugal’s historical jewel to truly enjoy this very picturesque city. So when visiting Tomar, it is possible that you are coming from Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. If that is the case and you arrive at the airport of Portela in Lisbon, just take a taxi to the Oriente Railway Station and catch a train to Tomar. Some trains don’t stop on all stations and those may take about two hours to get to Tomar. Those that stop on every single station take a bit longer but not more than three hours

My name is Fernando Fidalgo and I built this site. I was born in the City of Tomar but I am currently living in Perth in Australia. For more details about myself please visit the page About me.

10 Responses to “Tomar”

  1. Teresa Francisco says:

    Boa noite Fernando
    Li a sua entrevista/reportagem no jornal Cidade Tomar e vim ver o site. Está muito bom e as fotos esplendidas. Meu pai nasceu na freguesia de Olalhas (conc Tomar) e desde pequena passei as mhas férias grandes em Tomar. Gosto muito da cidade, apesar de o progresso a ter “destruído”…
    Pode dar-me o link para publicar no Facebook ?
    Obrigada pelo site.

  2. Olá Teresa,

    Muito obrigado pela sua amabilidade. É interessante que a minha esposa nasceu também na freguesia de Olalhas. Quanto ao “link” do meu site é o seguinte:

    Sempre ao seu dispor

    Fernando Fidalgo

  3. Ora cá estou eu!
    Parabens, pelo belo site que tens com o nosso berço.
    Embora ainda «não te tenha localizado nas memoria sda infancia, haveremos de lá chegar!
    Por esta tua foto acima, é pouco.
    Onde moravas?

  4. Lourenço,

    Obrigado pela mensagem e pelos comentários sobre o meu site. Quando era criança eu morava an Av. Cândido Madureira, mesmo ao lado da Casa dos Tectos. Na altura tu e o Gilberto seguiam pela Rua Infantaria 15 e eu subia a Av. Cândido Madureira em direcção a minha casa. Sei que é difícil reavivar a memória ao fim de tantos anos, mas procura lembrar-te de um miúdo na nossa escola primária, ter saído antes do fim do ano lectivo para regressar a Angola. Um abraço.

    Fernando Fidalgo

  5. Isabel Silva says:

    Caro Sr Fernando,
    reparei que temos caminhos muito parecidos. Nasci em Cabo-Verde fui viver para Angola com meus pas, fiz lá a minha vida até 1975. Depois vim para Portugal, onde permaneci. Entretanto visitei a Austrália, por algum tempo, mas é muito dificil ir viver para lá sózinha. Assim permaneci em Portugal. Entretanto estou a viver neste momento no Brasil com a minha filha e netos. O meu pai poor volta dos anos 50 criou uma filial do RC no Lobito e disso adveio o nosso conhecimento da espiritualidade que deu luz ao nosso espirito pelos anos vindouros até aos dias de hoje. Estimo que goste de viver na Austrália e que seja muito feliz juntamente com sua familia. Abraços Isabel, em Panambi, RS, Brasil.

  6. Armando M. says:


    Adoro o seu site e adoro a fotos !!
    Um belo e bonito site que aqui tem.. speachless 😉

    Grande abraço.

  7. Tamara says:

    Could you, please, tell me how the name Tomar was taken to name the city?

    • Hi Tamara

      It’s interesting that you ask this question and your name is Tamara!

      Nobody knows exactly the right answer about the origin of the name Tomar but there are a few theories. One one them is similar to your name. Apparently the word “Tamarara” in arabic means “sweet water” and since there is a river crossing the City of Tomar, some people say that the word Tomar derives from Tamarara (the sweet water from Nabão river).

      Another theory is that Tomar comes from the word Theodemare which in gothic (extinct Germanic language) means county.

      A third theory mentions that the area where is now Tomar had lots of thyme around and the people used to call that plant “tomo” or “tumo”.

      I hope this helps. Regards


  8. Jack Sutton says:

    I lived in Tomar from 1963 – 1965 and then we moved to Guimaraes.
    was only 13 years old when we first moved here.
    My Father was a textile engineer and worked at the Fabrica de Fiacao which is now derelict, that is so sad.
    I used to go to the swimming pool and knew Vasco Jacob, I was the torment of his life but he would just laugh at my antics.
    I am the instigator of a dive which I named “Parafuso”.
    I have so many happy memories of Tomar.
    I am now 65 years old and longing to visit just one more time.

    Jack Sutton

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