Convento de Cristo: Tomar, Portugal

Built between the 12th and 13th Centuries, The Rotunda of the Convento de Cristo rivals all other monuments of Templar architecture. It has eight sides on it’s central ‘drum’ and sixteen on the outer walls; influenced by the Holy Sepulchre or indeed the Mosque of Omar given the Templars varied exposure of the time. From the outside of the building, there is little indication of the wonders awaiting within. However, this is one of Portugal’s most important buildings for good reason.

Built as a fortified citadel with a ‘keep’, it has Norman inspired round towers (novel at the time in Portugal) which are better suited to defence than square ones.

The Convent has eight cloisters, built some 3-400 years later.

The building underwent restoration in the latter part of the 20th Century, but remarkably the inner Rotunda stucco-work showed no particular problems after eight hundred years, with most of the colour schemes still discernible (modern builders take note!)

All in all, this is the best value 6 Euros you will ever spend, and be prepared to set aside a few hours for the privilege.

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