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Tomar, USA

Detail of the Convento do Cristo, a fortified monastery of the Knights Templar. Photo Creative Commons License Mick L.

Located 85 miles NE of Lisbon in central Portugal, Tomar is a historic town best known for its connections to the intriguing Order of the Knights Templar. The Templars first built a castle here in the late 12th century. By 1314, the Templars had amassed great riches and many enemies, leading to their suppression by the pope. King Dinis, however, allowed them to regroup under the new name of "Order of Christ." Henry the Navigator became the most famous of the order's grand masters, using much of their money to fund his explorations. The undisputed star attraction is the Templar Convento da Ordem de Cristo, but the city is worth a look as well, with a handful of churches, narrow cobblestone streets, shops selling dried codfish, and wrought-iron balconies decorated with birdcages and flowerpots.

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Sacred Sites and Religious Attractions in Tomar