In cycling to Tomar I had crossed the 40th parallel north. This means I am now well south of Istanbul and at about the same latitiude as Beijing.
Tomar has a fortified castle built in 1160 by Gualdim Pais, Grand Master of the Order of the Knights Templar. Presumably he had some help of other people as well. The Templars were fighting alongside secular forces against the Moors during the Reconquista.
In 1312 the order was dissolved on demand of Pope Clement V, but, at the request of King Dinis, a new order was reinstated some seven years later. It was called the Order of Christ. Same meat, different gravy. In the 15th century, Henry the Navigator became the Grand Master of the Order of Christ, and it is suggested that he used the Templars knowledge for his naval discoveries.
In the church of Santa Maria Olival, the Grand Masters of the Knights Templar were buried. In a niche in the wall a skull was displayed. I made a photograph of the skull as you can see below:
I do not know who the owner was.
Another interesting building was the synagogue, built somewhere between 1430 and 1460, but it was only in use until 1496 when Jews were told to either leave Portugal or convert to Christianity. The synagogue was turned into a prison. Interestingly, the Jews who had chosen to convert to Christianity, the so called ‘New Christians’, could not by law be imprisoned in the former synagogue…
Later the synagogue was used as a hay-loft.
In the afternoon I visited the Convent of Christ.
I have taken to photographing gargoyles, who have the benefit of sitting perfectly still: