Europe during the time of the Templars
Europe during the time of the Templars

Aragón was a key Western province for the Templars and the birthplace of several of Grand Masters. It was also a live crusading theatre in the so-called Reconquista, in which Christian kings battled against Islamic emirs known as Moors, who occupied southern Spain. From the 1130s onward, the Templars garrisoned numerous large fortresses, including Monzón and Miravet, and threw themselves into this struggle. As Templar influence grew, they served as diplomats and mediators between Aragon’s rulers and the Church, and as tutors to the royal family.

Located in the Loir-et-Cher region of France, this extensive and well-preserved Templar complex became a key training and recruiting center, producing knights who would join the Crusader armies in the Holy Land. It also played a significant role in the region’s agricultural industry and served as an important religious center. It was ceded to the Hospitallers following the Templar’s fall.

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One of the key Templar ports on the Atlantic coast, La Rochelle was the site of a persistent Templar legend, in which nearly a dozen ships carrying Templar treasures—and knights—fled from the port just before France’s King Philip IV announced charges against the order in October 1307.

Built around the time of the Second Crusade, the Paris Temple contained a four-turreted tower keep, a church and several administrative buildings, including its treasury, which became the focal point of the Templar’s far-flung banking activities. It was here that Jacques de Molay and other leaders were arrested on October 13, 1307.

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Ceded to the Knights Templar in 1159, following victory over the Moors, Tomar became the order’s Portuguese headquarters. They devised a planned city (the last Templar city to be commissioned) and constructed several significant buildings, including a castle and convent complex that allowed them to expand Portugal’s border into Moorish territory. The convent, still standing today, features a rotunda inspired by Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

One of the most significant Templar sites in western Europe, London’s New Temple served as the order’s headquarters in England. Its consecration in 1185 was attended by both King Henry II and Heraclius, the Patriarch of Jerusalem. A monument outside the Church honors one of the most important Templar symbols—two knights astride on the same horse, as seen on their medieval seal.