If you happen to be traveling in France, make a beeline for the Templar preceptory – or commanderie – at Arville. Well preserved and worth seeing. Here’s a description from the official website:
Founded by the Templars by the early 12th century, the Commanderie remains, regarding the importance of the present buildings, a unique monument and one of the best preserved Commanderie in France.
After the crusaders had captured Jerusalem in July 1099, western Christians flocked in the Holy Land for pilgrimage. However their safety was not assured. To protect them, nine French knights led by Hugues de Payns created in 1118 a religious militia which was to become later the Order of the Temple. The members of the Order are monks and soldiers and obey to a rule elaborated by a council gathered at Troyes cathedral in France in January 1128.
The Templars settled in Arville towards 1128 or 1130 on a woody estate of 2500 acres, given at their disposal by Geoffroy III, lord of Mondoubleau. The Commanderie became a farming centre, a recruitment centre, a training base for the knights waiting for their departure to the Holy Land, and a place of worship. The Templars lived here until their arrest, decided by Philippe IV le Bel, King of France, who accused them of heresy, on Friday 13 October 1307.
After the abolition of the Order of the Temple, the Commanderie became the property of the Order of the Hospitalers which was renamed Order of Malta by the 16th century. They will remain the owner of the site until the French revolution in 1789.
Then the whole site was sold as a national good and bought by farmers. In 1979, a part of the buildings were purchased by a union of local towns that undertook the restoration of the buildings and the organization of visits. In 1999 the union of the Towns of the Perch Hills created the History Centre of the Chivalry Orders which present in an interactive way the epic of the crusades and the life of the Templars.