The legacy of the Knights Templar are present in every corner of Portugal; in its temples, buildings, streets and even its people.
The Order of the Poor Companions of Christ and the Temple of Solomon or better known as the Order of the Temple, composed of knights called Templars was founded in 1118 by nine French knights. The Order of the Temple was officially recognized by the Catholic Church in 1129. This Order, of a military nature, was founded with the mission of protecting all Christian pilgrims who were heading towards Jerusalem, after its reconquest, as a result of the Crusades .
The Knights Templar were considered among the best units trained for combat and the successes in the Crusades are attributed to them. In addition to being fiery fighters, the Knights Templar were also responsible for the creation of a sophisticated economic system within the Christian world. An economic system that resembles, and possibly was a precursor to the present banking systems of the world. These contributions make them an extremely strong and feared organization. Its expansion in Europe included Aragón, Castilla y León, Portugal, England, Scotland and Ireland, Poland and Hungary.
Fearing the power obtained by the Knights Templar and the great debts accumulated with the same, King Felipe IV of France began a campaign to discredit these gentlemen and finally convinced Pope Clement V to eradicate and disavow the Order.
However, King Dinis of Portugal grants asylum to those who manage to evade the persecution and extermination mandate. These pass with all their possessions to the Order of Christ created in 1319. Initially they started in Braga and eventually the King handed over the territory known today as Tomar (Portugal) for the establishment of the Knights Templar’s headquarters, under the new Order . Even today, Tomar is known as the “City of the Knights Templar.” There we find the Castle of the Order of the Temple, which within its walls one finds the Convent of Christ, both declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 1983.
The tradition of the Knights Templar remains alive in Tomar with a medieval fair held annually. The Knights Templar were very important in the development of Portugal through the existence of the Order of Christ, being instrumental in the explorations and world conquests by Portugal.