Guarda, Portugal: Grandeur Inside Stone Walls
The city of Guarda in Portugal has historically functioned as a strong, fortified defensive site. It has shielded Portuguese towns from attacks of various invaders through the ages that it became known for its landscape of stoic and stern architecture. In fact, the city is fondly called Fria, Farta, Forte e Feia, meaning Cold, Rich, Strong and Ugly. Yet, visitors who have witnessed the grand spectacle of its stone walls and granite buildings say that it is from this Gothic austerity that the city’s beauty and charm is revealed.
Guarda in Portugal is the highest town in the country. With an elevation of around 3465 feet, it is perfectly positioned to provide surveillance and protection for Portugal from attacks of Spanish forces and the Moors. Located near the border dividing Portugal and Spain on the northeast part, Guarda became a significant military base in the past. The location is now appreciated for the magnificent, wide views of plains reaching all the way to Spain.
Guarda, Portugal Today
Today, Guarda is popular for its historical architecture and ancient religious structures. Inside imposing castles are graceful interiors, and within towering cathedrals are intricate details and Renaissance masterpieces. Old museums also offer exciting art and archeological treasures.
Amid the grey granite buildings and hunched houses, tourists won’t experience difficulties in finding good places to sleep while in town. Guarda in Portugal has establishments offering budget, midrange, and luxury accommodations, each with its own attractions. Particularly interesting is how historical and religious buildings, such as a monastery and a 17th century mansion, have been adapted into modern hotels, equipped with the modern furnishings and amenities such as Internet and cable TV.
The modernized Guarda also boasts of its social events calendar. One of the biggest events hosted by the city is an annual music festival called the Ciclo de Jazz de Guarda that is held every March to May. Dance, theater and music performances are usually held at the Teatro Municipal da Guarda. In between these events, a visitor can always pass the night away in the various pubs that dot the town square. As with all venues within this district capital, these nightspots may have cold-looking facades, but enter and its warmth and charm is eventually discovered.
Located close to the center of Guarda is the Serra da Estrela Natural Park, the biggest natural park in Portugal that offers plentiful of activities, such as skiing, for those looking for exhilarating adventure.
Guarda can be reached by train, bus or car hire from Lisbon. For those who want to take the train, they can choose between the Beira Alta ling, which runs three trains daily from Lisbon via Coimbra; and the Beira Baixa line that runs departs from Lisbon via Castelo Branco.