So much has been written about the Knights Templar, but the last chapter in their history was written in Portugal’s city of Tomar. It’s a tale of adventure, cunning, and exploration. And the pageantry of the lost order lives on today at the “Festa dos Tabuleiros.” Tomar is just 90 minutes from Lisbon.
The next “Festa dos Tabuleiros” has been scheduled to run from July 4 to 13th, 2015. “Festa dos Tabuleiros,” or Festival of Trays, happens every four years or so and is unique in the world and it is part of the religious traditions to celebrate the Holy Spirit. The highlight is a massive parade with young women carrying a “tabuleiro” on their heads. The tabuleiro must be the height of the woman and is made of 300 pieces of bread with rows decorated with paper flowers. At the top, there’s a crown decorated with a dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit or the Cross of Christ.
Along the 2-mile parade rout, petals from flowers are thrown to the pairs, quilts decorate windows and everyone is dressed for the occasion, making it a truly unique celebration.
The festival attracts visitors from all over to the former home of the Knights Templar in Tomar. During the last festival in 2011, women from all the 16 counties around carried 500 trays.
The 2015 festival has a poster designed by local artist Jose Inacio da Costa Rosa. The design is a watercolor that shows the parade with two women holding the tabuleiro and one of the main calling cards of the city – the ornamented Manueline Window from the Convent of Christ. The main parade will take place on Sunday, June 12th.
Also new to Tomar:
Second Tuk-Tuk for the city of Tomar – “Tuk lovers” has added a second Tuk tuk to his route. The second vehicle, that is a trend in cities all over the world, can take up to three people. The goal of Luis Campos and Catarina Vargas is to meet the needs for the upcoming Festival of the Tabuleiros when they expect to acquire a third Tuk Tuk with capacity to transport six people.
New pastry mecca opens on the Corredoura – Pastelaria Claustro is the new pastry shop in Rua Serpa Pinto offering tasty local pastry with this back to the Templars. The coffee shop from Tabeladaromas, the company that belongs to Carminda Santos and Vitor Santos is part of the network of the Claustro Café, Claustro 3 and Tasquinha da Mitas.
The Templars came to Portugal in the 12th century at the request of Portugal’s founding king, D. Afonso Henriques. They built a series of castles on the banks of the Tejo River to defend the new nation from the Moors. At Tomar, the order built their headquarters, a fortified monastery that is one of the most important medieval sites in Europe. The original church was patterned on the Church of the Holly Sepulcher in Israel. Its central nave with its soaring heights was almost unheard of at that time. The massive door was so high that, according to legend, the knights attended mass on horseback.
Today, Tomar is a monument city and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its great castle is a fascinating relic of the mysterious Templars, full of secret passages, symbolic paintings, and compelling art. The city below is well preserved with a 14th century synagogue and Jewish Museum, a riverfront park with an Arab waterwheel, a main square flanked by a Gothic church and medieval city hall. The Templars built the gothic Church of Santa Maria do Olival in the 13th as a built as burial ground for the Knights. But the mysterious of Our Lady of the Conception (Nossa Senhora da Conceição) chapel built in the second half of the 16th century in pure Renaissance style.