The Knights Templars continue to intrigue more than 900 years after their founding in Jerusalem in either 1118 or 1119.

The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon to give the Templars their full name still inspire books, video games and movies on their esoteric past.

Steeped in mystery, the Order is believed to have influenced the Freemasons, who adopted Templar symbols and their initiation ceremony and even the temperance movement, based on the belief the early Templars abstained from alcohol.

The Templars first came to Portugal in the 12th century to help the new nation in its fight against the Islamic presence in Iberia known as the Reconquista. They first participated in the siege and fall of Santarém to Afonso Henriques in 1147 and later that year in the capture of Lisbon. As a reward Portugal's new king began to give them lands and property.



It is estimated that the first Knights Templar first reached Portugal in 1124. The first document attesting to their presence dates from 1128 when Countess Teresa of León donated the Castelo de Soure near Coimbra to them.

With their first military interventions, in defence of Soure Castle from Almoravid attack, and their participation in the conquest of Santarém (1147), they achieved royal recognition.

In payment for their services they received donations during the reign of Afonso Henriques, such as the castles of Longroiva, Mogadouro in the district of Bragança, Penas Roias, Idanha and Monsanto.

Soon the Templars also established themselves in the cities of Coimbra, Lisbon and Santarém, and their assets increased significantly.

Their golden age was during the time of Gualdim Pais (1118-1195) who returned to Portugal after taking part in the First Crusade and was named Grand Master of the Order of Knights Templar.

In 1160, the construction of the castle and convent in  Tomar began, where the seat of the order was established. After the construction of  Tomar, which took nine years, the Knights Templar began building new fortresses north of the Tagus in Almourol, Cardiga, Zêzere, Pom- bal and Castelo Branco, in the framework of a policy for the defence and development of border settlements. In 1169, King Afonso Henriques offered them a third of the lands they were able to conquer to the south of the Tagus, but the offer didn't seem to tempt them as the order had little presence in southern Portugal. It was left to the Order of Santiago to complete the conquest of the Alentejo and Algarve.

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