Templar Geographies

Portugal is for me a country of cracked and yet brilliant beauty; when you are there, you breathe its decadent and yet amazing grandeur; a lifestyle that is reluctant to emergencies and even to fashionable is perceived; impervious to the most vulgar novelties. The liturgies of haste and appearance there seem to be somewhat deflated.

Portugal is for me a country of cracked and yet brilliant beauty; when you are there, you breathe its decadent and yet amazing grandeur; a lifestyle that is reluctant to emergencies and even to fashionable is perceived; impervious to the most vulgar novelties. The liturgies of haste and appearance there seem to be somewhat deflated.

Nostalgia is the feeling that prevails in me when I walk there, look, talk, listen, ask; a nostalgia that leads me to become absorbed in myself to such an extent that I feel a bit like a poet in incognito. To all this we have to add the special light; a light that seems to come from another time; an oblique light that takes time to disappear; a zenithal light that is a glow of white next to another color that is never the same but varies depending on the area in which you are visiting. Personality is breathed; authenticity is breathed; you breathe the old that accompanies you taking you towards the modern; the voices, the sounds and the smells of other very distant places that are present there are breathed; are breathed visions of other remote times that are present there through their traces that have resisted time. These imaginary geographies and these imaginary times come to life in our thoughts.

…and the ocean…this ocean challenged by the courage of Humanity and her desire for knowledge; this ocean that has taken us to other civilizations, that has made us pay a very expensive price for our inability to remain still; this immense and omnipotent ocean. All this makes any traveler who visit Portugal and with a minimum of sensitivity feel as if they are immersed in true life, with its beats, its noises, its fragrances, its stories, its legacy from the past.

TOMAR, the city of the Templars

A fragment of all this powerful cocktail of sensations can be found in Tomar, the city of the Templars to which I dedicate this article after I was its guest last June, opening their arms to me without fear and allowing themselves to be discovered in all their splendor. To say Tomar, is to say the Convent of Christ, the epicenter of the power of the Templars in Portugal. Then we make a small temporary suspension to talk about the Templars. The order was created in France in 1118 with the purpose (excuse?) of protecting Christians who made pilgrimages to Jerusalem; The Catholic Church officially recognized this order some ten years later, granting them privileges that gradually brought wealth and power to the Templars. In France, this power reached very dangerous heights, so much so that King Felipe IV, with an impressive “police operation” cruelly dismantled the Order and its “warrior monks”… the truth of this cruel act may lie in the fact that royalty seems had contracted some important debts with them…a quick and arrogant way to get rid of a problem…

In Portugal, the Templars were a well-established Order, “rolled up” and protected by the kings of the time, because they had given them an important hand during the “reconquest” against the Muslims. This symbiotic pact between the Portuguese kings and the Templars was further evidenced when Felipe IV and Pope Clement V destroyed (as explained above) the Templar order. In Portugal, to protect the Templars, the Portuguese kings changed the name of the order, calling it “Order of Christ”; and thus, with a simple facelift, they allowed the (ex)-Templars to remain in the territory, also preserving the properties they had received as gifts in exchange for favors: the castle of Soure, the castle of Langroiva, the castle of Cera near Tomar. The order of Christ played a fundamental role in the century of the Portuguese “discoveries”, reaching Latin America and even India circumnavigating Africa. They even obtained an entire territory (Tomar) from the kings where they built, among other things, the castle of Almourol (in a strategic point on the trade routes, profiting from the duties they imposed on traders) and the Convent of Christ. Two centuries after it happened in France, the end came for the Templars in Portugal as well. The authorities greatly limited their powers, turning the order into an exclusively monastic one, thus reaching its total neutralization.

The Convent of Christ

From all this history, an impressive architectural legacy has come down to us that finds its maximum splendor in Tomar, especially in the Convent of Christ.

The convent is located on an elevation that dominates the plain on which the city extends; it is surrounded by a wall belonging to the castle of Tomar and both are World Heritage Sites. It is an immense construction with seven cloisters, a church, two chapels, dormitories for the monks, a hostel for visitors, kitchens, refectories, toilets, warehouses, an oven, a library, an impressive rainwater tank … and above all the Charola! It was the private oratory of the Templars; it has an impressive octagonal plan full of paintings, frescoes and golden sculptures.

Another element of great artistic and architectural interest is the Chapter House and the “janela” that opens in the Santa Barbara cloister and in front of the monks’ dormitories.

Conclusion

A country that has treasures like the ones I just talked about is a country in which the imprint of history and culture has somehow gradually infiltrated the people and is found in the character of its inhabitants. This is a very powerful barrier against any exploiter who wants to offer us a tailor-made future. The loss of historical and cultural memory is unfortunately an issue that we find more and more often in our societies; an absence that in any case people need to fill because it is human nature to want to know “where we come from”… the problem is that in the absence of historical memory, there will always be some smartass or even worse, some malicious person who will think of filling this absence for us by constructing a surrogate past that is of course the best that suits them, to make us think of a future that they design and want for us because it is the future that best suits them…

Photosatriani

I am a curious of life with idealistic tendencies and a fighter. I am a passionate photographer who had to develop a strong degree of resilience to keep my passion against the current of life. I believe that shadows are the necessary contrast to enhance the light. I am a lover of nature, silence and landscapes (rural and urban). My photographic history is quite silent publicly but very rich personally, studded with some great satisfactions such as: published photographer in 1X; honorable mention in Pollux Award 2019; commended in IGPOTY 2019 B&W section; highly commended in IGPOTY 2018 Abstract section; selected in 2014 for Descubrimientos PhotoEspaña and in VIPHOTO. Group exhibitions in: Atlántica Colectivas FotoNoviembre 2015 and 2013; selected for the Popular Participation section GetxoPhoto 2020 and 2015; ”PhotoVernissage (San Petersburgo) 2012; DeARTE 2012 y 2013. A set of my images belongs to the funds of Tecnalia company in Bilbao, to the collection of the "Isla de Tenerife" Photography Center and to the EspacioRAW collection in Madrid. [Website]

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