Arguably one of the most provocative, puzzling, and misunderstood organizations of medieval times, the legendary Knights Templar have always been shrouded in a veil of mystery, while inspiring popular culture from Indiana Jones to Dan Brown.
The order of the Knights Templar was founded by Hugh de Payens, a French nobleman from the Champagne region, along with eight of his companions, in Jerusalem around 1119.
They originally consisted of a group of knights who protected Christian pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land against attack from brigands and Saracen pirates, after the crusaders captured Jerusalem in 1099.
The order's full name was the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon.
They were given quarters next to the temple and adopted their distinctive uniform - white tunics with an eight-pointed blood-red cross.
In 1129 they took monastic vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and pledged themselves ready to die for their faith.
They were gradually transformed into a chivalric order of warrior-monks who fought with distinction in the Crusades.