This post is about a special place. I am used to saying that while being an architectural photographer who always visits and shoots beautifully designed spaces, it’s becoming harder and harder to impress me with architecture. But this one was an exception.
So this story started with a conversation with my good old buddy Guilherme about the history of Knights Templars in Portugal. Yeah, sometimes we have those intellectual conversations with my friend. So he recalled reading about a castle in Tomar, which is known for having served as bastion of Templar Knights in Portugal. We did some googling and decided, quite spontaneously, to go visit the Convento de Cristo (Convent of Christ) the next day.
People who know me well are aware that spontaneous travel is my preferred way to travel. I also like not to do a profound research about my destination, which makes me truly experience the emotions without knowing in advance what to expect. Also for some reason neither of us heard much about the Convent before and it didn’t appear to be one of those overrated landmarks that you see on every postcard.
The next day arriving in the medieval city of Tomar we drive to the top of the hill where the dramatic Castle walls are meeting the visitors. We pass by reception for the entry tickets (6 EUR is a great price for what this place has to offer) and start the visit by entering a gorgeous Spanish style courtyard. Both of us are in awe! So I grab the camera to take some shots and end up spending a good half an hour in one single spot. I admit – I get easily lost in time when behind the camera, especially in spaces where every corner makes you admire the incredible craftsmanship and aesthetics people are able to achieve.
With me still in the courtyard Gui goes to check the adjoining spaces. Shortly he comes back to me with eyes shining in excitement “Man you won’t believe what’s there!” I tell him to just leave me here for a while to take some shots – I can’t miss this opportunity. “You don’t understand! This is NOTHING compared to what’s coming next!”
Alright. This guy never leaves me in peace to photograph anything.. It took a bit of convincing for him to drag the stubborn photographer out, so that we continue our visit. Next space that opens to us is the Templars Chapel (Charola) from 12th century and.. GOSH! I really can’t explain how jaw-dropping the moment was. The sheer amount of details in form of sculptures, stone masonry, wall paintings – leaves you speechless. Only if I knew it was only one of many breathtaking sites of the convent, which would take us the entire day (!) to explore.
The rest of the story I leave to photos I took that day. Needless to say that I highly recommend anyone to visit this majestic building which was classified UNESCO Heritage of Mankind, as I believe it to be one of the most overlooked wonders of Portugal.
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Follow Guilherme’s blog www.2gui.pt