Thomar - Encyclopedia




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THOMAR, a town of central Portugal, in the district of Santarem; on the river Nabao, a tributary of the Zezere, 4 m. from Paialvo railway station, which is 89 m. N.E. of Lisbon by the main line to Oporto. Pop. (1900), 6888. Thomar contains examples of the best Portuguese architecture from the 12th century to the 17th. The ruined castle of the Knights Templar, given to that order in 1159, is said to occupy the site of the ancient Nabantia. On the suppression of the Templars, who had done good service against the Moors, King Diniz of Portugal founded the Order of Christ in 1314. The convent palace of the Knights of Christ includes a church and cloister dating from the 12th century, two cloisters and a chapter-house added in the 15th century by Prince Henry the Navigator, a very fine 16th century church built in the Manoellian or Manueline style by Joao de Castilho, to which the older church served as a chancel, and other buildings erected later. The convent contains Flemish and Portuguese paintings of the 16th century, of the so-called "Grao Vasco" school. Its aqueduct, 3 m. long, was built 1595-1615. Other interesting buildings are the churches of Santa Maria do Olival, rebuilt in the Gothic style in 1450 on the site of an older Templar foundation; Sao Joao Baptista, also Gothic, built in 1498, but with Manoellian additions; Nossa Senhora da Conceigao, Renaissance of 1579; and the palace of Prince Henry the Navigator, restored in the 16th century by Queen Catherine, widow of John III.

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