Founded by King Sancho I at the end of the 12th century, Guarda is nestled in the Serra da Estrela and is the highest-altitude city in Portugal. It is known as the “City of the Five F’s” - Farta, Forte, Fria, Fiel e Formosa - in reference to its fertile lands, strength, cold climate, loyalty and beauty.
Things to do in Guarda
Watching over the city is the Torre de Menagem, a pentagonal-shaped tower that forms part of the Castelo da Guarda’s centuries-old fortifications. Follow the staircase that leads to the top to enjoy sweeping views across the city and explore the history museum that is located inside. Not far away is the Torre dos Ferreiros, which once marked the entrance to Guarda.
One of Guarda’s most impressive architectural landmarks is its Gothic cathedral, which was constructed between the late 14th and mid 16th centuries. It features spiralling Manueline columns and pinnacles crowning its exterior walls, as well as magnificent reredos carved from limestone. A staircase leads to the rooftop, from where you can see all the way to the surrounding countryside.
Occupying an early 17th-century seminary is the Museu da Guarda, which houses pre-Roman archaeological findings, religious paintings and antique weaponry. Learn about the folk traditions of Guarda and see paintings by notable Portuguese artists, such as Eduardo Malta, Antonio Carneiro and Adelaide Lima Cruz. The Museu da Guarda's Mannerist building is a notable attraction in itself, with gargoyles decorating the facade.
Getting around Guarda
Guarda is around two hours’ drive from Porto and Francisco Sa Carneiro Airport, which has flights to destinations across Europe, North Africa and North America. Trains connect to the Guarda railway station, which is around five minutes by taxi from the city centre. The centre of Guarda can easily be explored on foot.