Top 10 Templar Buildings

Top 10 Templar Buildings

As mysterious as they were formidable, the Knights Templar is an order that has intrigued historians and enthusiasts alike for centuries. The Templars were a powerful and wealthy military order during the Middle Ages, formed during the aftermath of the First Crusade. They built numerous fortresses, churches, and estates across Europe and the Middle East. Many of these Knights Templar buildings still stand, offering a tangible link to this captivating era of history.

Did the Templars Have Castles?

The Knights Templar, one of the most powerful and wealthy military orders during the Middle Ages, had an extensive network of castles across Europe and the Middle East. These structures were pivotal to the Templar operations, serving a multitude of purposes that extended beyond their military utility.

The Templars were primarily known for their role in the Crusades, holy wars waged in the medieval period with the aim of recapturing Jerusalem and the Holy Land from Muslim rule. As such, many of their castles were strategically placed in these regions to secure vital trade routes, protect pilgrims, and maintain territorial control. These fortresses, such as the iconic Krak des Chevaliers in modern-day Syria, were masterpieces of military architecture designed to withstand sieges and assaults.

However, the Templar castles were not just fortifications. They were also administrative and economic hubs, managing vast estates and resources. The Templars, renowned for their financial acumen, utilized these castles as centers for their banking operations, granting loans to kings and nobility and fostering economic growth.

The Templars also established castles in Europe. For instance, the Castle of Ponferrada in Spain served as a refuge for pilgrims, while the Convent of Christ in Tomar, Portugal, was the Order’s headquarters during the Reconquista.

Despite the dissolution of the Templar Order in the 14th century, many of their castles still stand, mute witnesses to the Order’s legacy. They continue to fascinate historians, scholars, and tourists alike with their architectural grandeur and the stories they hold within their stone walls. The Templar castles are a testament to the Order’s influence and power, strategic brilliance, and unique blend of martial and spiritual pursuits.

Are There Any Templar Temples Still Standing?

Numerous Templar structures, including temples, still standing across the globe. These surviving Templar buildings serve as tangible links to the Order’s past, offering insights into their architectural prowess, religious devotion, and military strategy.

One of the most significant is the Temple Church in London, UK. With its unique round nave, this iconic building was the spiritual hub of the Templars in England and is still used as a place of worship today. It is perhaps the most famous Templar temple still standing, known for its distinctive design inspired by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

In Portugal, the Convent of Christ in Tomar, originally a Templar stronghold, boasts the Charola, a round temple that was the private chapel of the Templars. The complex later became the headquarters of the Order of Christ, the successor to the Templars in Portugal, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In Spain, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Torres del Río, associated with the Templars due to its round design, is an intriguing site on the Way of St. James pilgrimage route.

But it’s important to note that while these structures are often referred to as “temples,” they are not temples in the classical sense. Instead, these were often churches or commanderies — a combination of monastic, military, and administrative centers — utilized by the Templar Order.

Despite centuries of change, these Templar buildings continue to capture our imagination, standing as eloquent testimony to the Order’s significant influence during the Middle Ages. They offer a fascinating journey into the past, allowing us to step into the world of the Knights Templar and appreciate their enduring legacy.

1. Temple Church, London, UK

Nestled in the heart of London, the Temple Church is one of the most iconic Templar buildings still standing. Constructed in the late 12th century, this church was the spiritual and physical home of the Templar knights in England. Its distinct round shape is characteristic of Templar architecture, a symbol of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

2. Laon Commandery, France

In the northeastern region of France, the Laon Commandery stands as a testament to the economic prowess of the Templars. This surviving Templar building was a significant agricultural center, managing vast estates of vineyards and farms. Today, it offers a rare glimpse into the non-military aspects of the Templar Order.

3. Convent of Christ, Tomar, Portugal

The Convent of Christ in Tomar, Portugal, was the headquarters of the Knights Templar during the Reconquista — the period in which Christian kingdoms retook the Iberian Peninsula from Muslim rulers. This magnificent fortress-church complex, perched atop a hill, is an enduring symbol of the Order’s religious and military might.

4. Castle of Ponferrada, Spain

Spain’s Castle of Ponferrada is one of the most significant surviving Templar buildings. It served as a military outpost and a place of rest for pilgrims on the Way of St. James. Despite the many additions and renovations over the centuries, the Templars’ influence can still be seen in its architecture.

5. Temple Mount, Jerusalem, Israel

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem was the ultimate aspiration of the Templars. Although no Templar buildings still stand, the mount’s significance cannot be overstated. It was the reputed location of the Temple of Solomon, from which the Templars derived their name and symbolism. The Al-Aqsa Mosque currently standing on the site was once the Templar headquarters.

6. Fortress of Tomar, Portugal

Another illustrious testament to the Templar Order’s might is the Fortress of Tomar. This building is home to the Charola, a round temple that was the private oratory of the knights. The fortress later evolved into the Convent of Christ, incorporating different architectural styles reflecting various periods of history.

7. Cressac Commandery, France

The Cressac Commandery, located in southwestern France, represents the Templars’ expertise in estate management. This agricultural hub, composed of barns, storerooms, and housing, paints a picture of the Templar Order beyond its military might, shedding light on its socioeconomic significance.

8. Templar Castle of Almourol, Portugal

The Templar Castle of Almourol, seemingly floating on a tiny islet in the Tagus River, Portugal, is a marvel of medieval architecture. Its isolated location reflects the strategic brilliance of the Templars. Today, this surviving Templar building is accessible only by boat, adding an aura of mystique.

9. Saint Bernard de Clairvaux Church, Miami, USA

The Saint Bernard de Clairvaux Church, now in Miami, USA, is a unique example of a Templar building. Originally the Monastery of Sacramenia in Spain, it was purchased by a businessman, disassembled, and transported to the US in the 20th century. This transplanted edifice provides an unexpected but intriguing piece of Templar history on American soil.

10. Templar Tunnel, Acre, Israel

Finally, while not a building, the Templar Tunnel in Acre, Israel, offers an immersive experience of Templar history. This underground passage, stretching from the fortress to the port, was crucial for the Templars’ swift and secure transport of goods and people.

What Is the Most Famous Templar Castle?

The Castle of Ponferrada in Spain is one of the most famous and significant Templar castles in the world. Strategically situated on the Way of St. James, a pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, this grand fortress represents the confluence of military, architectural, and spiritual history.

The castle, originally built by the Celts, was taken over by the Knights Templar in the 12th century. They expanded and fortified the structure to safeguard the pilgrims journeying across the dangerous route. The castle’s formidable stone walls and turrets are emblematic of Templar military architecture, designed to withstand the most vigorous assaults.

With an area of over 16,000 square meters, the Castle of Ponferrada is impressive both in its scale and design. Its iconic round Templar keep, solid fortifications, and moat illustrate the quintessential traits of medieval fortresses. Yet it stands apart due to its distinctive Templar influence — the intricate architectural details underscore the unique combination of religious fervor and military might that characterized the Templar Order.

Despite renovations and additions over the centuries, the castle has retained its inherent Templar identity. Today, it houses a Templar library and the Ponferrada Investigation and Study Center, making it a hub for scholars and enthusiasts interested in delving into Templar history.

The Castle of Ponferrada, thus, continues to live up to its reputation as one of the most famous Templar castles. It serves as a tangible reminder of the Order’s profound influence on the socio-political landscape during the Middle Ages. The castle’s enduring grandeur and historical importance make it an unforgettable destination for those eager to explore the mysterious world of the Knights Templar.

Knights Templar Sites in England

The Knights Templar, renowned for their martial and spiritual pursuits during the Middle Ages, established several significant sites throughout England. Many of these sites remain standing today, providing invaluable insights into the Templar Order’s activities and influence in the region.

Arguably the most famous of these is the Temple Church in London. Originally constructed in the 12th century, this church was the English headquarters of the Templar Order. The distinct round nave, modeled after the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, is characteristic of Templar architecture. Today, this iconic church stands as a testament to the Order’s religious devotion and architectural sophistication.

The city of Bristol hosts the Temple Church, or Holy Cross Church, now a picturesque ruin that was once a prominent Templar church. Its signature feature is its leaning tower, which gives the site a unique charm and character.

In Hertfordshire, the Temple Dinsley manor house was another significant Templar site. This Templar preceptory managed a large estate, providing income for the Order’s activities in the Holy Land. Although the original Templar structure no longer exists, a mansion built on the same site still bears the Templar name.

While not conclusively linked to the Templars, Royston Cave in Hertfordshire is often associated with the Order due to its array of medieval carvings, many of which resemble Templar symbols. This man-made cave offers a unique, immersive experience for those interested in Templar history.

Finally, Cressing Temple in Essex was one of England’s earliest and largest Templar estates. Although no Templar buildings survive, the site is home to two of the oldest timber barns in England, dating back to the 13th century.

These sites, embedded in the English landscape, are enduring reminders of the Templars’ significant role in England’s medieval history. They offer glimpses into the Order’s religious fervor, economic prowess, and architectural expertise, making them must-visit locations for anyone intrigued by the enigmatic Knights Templar.

Knights Templar Sites in Scotland

Scotland is a land rich in history, with its scenic landscapes dotted with numerous historical sites linked to the enigmatic Knights Templar. Despite their dissolution in the 14th century, their Scottish legacy endures in the form of various places and artifacts that continue to captivate historians and enthusiasts alike.

One of the most prominent of these is the Temple Church in Midlothian. This 12th-century church is a remarkable example of Templar architecture and was the heart of the Templar community in Scotland. Its distinct round shape, typical of Templar churches, symbolizes the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

A few miles south of the city of Aberdeen lies the ancient Templar site of Maryculter. It was home to a preceptory – a Templar community that combined the functions of a monastery and farm. Today, while the original Templar buildings no longer exist, the Maryculter House Hotel stands on this historic site, offering guests a unique connection to Scotland’s Templar past.

While not a Templar building, Rosslyn Chapel is frequently associated with the Knights Templar due to its intricate carvings and symbols that are similar to Templar motifs. This 15th-century chapel, made famous by Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code,” has sparked many theories about a possible connection between the Templars and the Sinclair family, who built the chapel.

The town of Temple, Midlothian, is believed to have been a significant Templar command center. The village’s name is a homage to the Knights Templar, and the remains of the Old Templar Hall can still be seen.

From awe-inspiring churches to picturesque ruins, Scotland’s Templar sites provide a tangible link to a time of chivalry and mystery. These historic locales serve as a reminder of the far-reaching influence of the Knights Templar, resonating with the echoes of a past shrouded in intrigue and fascination.

Bottom Line

These top 10 Templar buildings offer a fascinating journey through the Order’s history. Despite the passage of centuries, their enduring structures remind us of the Knights Templar’s indomitable spirit and significant role in shaping world history. Each surviving Templar building presents a piece of the puzzle, contributing to a richer understanding of this mysterious Order. These structures stand as silent yet eloquent witnesses to the Templars’ power, wealth, spirituality, and ambition. Their stone and mortar whisper tales of chivalry, courage, faith, and intrigue, stories that continue to captivate our imagination to this day.