Just over half an hour from the border between Portugal and Spain, along the motorway leaving Fuentes de Oñoro, there is a traditionally cold town with warm-hearted people. Guarda, the highest city in mainland Portugal, combines its history with the modernity that is growing in its streets, for example with the improvement of public spaces and urban art. In the heart of the countryside, well lined by the rural world, the locality combines unmissable points of interest with its people. At the table, there's always wine, chorizo, Serra cheese, bread and, above all, the authenticity and generosity of those who live there. All About Portugal selected 11 attractions to discover and designed an unforgettable itinerary through the city of the "5Fs": Forte, Farta, Fria, Fiel and Formosa.
Menagem Tower or Castle of Guarda
It is the highest point of the city, at 1056 meters of altitude. From the Menagem Tower (Torre de Menagem, an old keep tower), also known as Castle of Guarda, one has a panoramic and privileged view of the city and the surroundings. From there, one can imagine what the locality, and its limits, would have been centuries ago. Moreover, depending on weather permitting or not, you can admire an almost endless horizon. When it snows, this scenery transforms into a dream-like postcard. Is there a better way to start this route?
Although the Cathedral is within the reach of our glance, we propose a detour to the Ferreiros Tower (Torre dos Ferreiros), in a narrow street nearby. The entrance is made by the haughty Door (Porta dos Ferreiros), to immediately find an oratory and a long staircase. With the wall having given rise to houses and the past having been modernized by the new times, this high Tower survived through time, as physical testimony of a history told by kings, knights and a historical conflict with Castile. The view from the top is also memorable.
Sé (Cathedral) of Guarda
Perhaps the crowning jewel of Guarda, the Cathedral is a perfect marriage between the Gothic and Manueline styles. Many legends are associated with its construction and, in addition to the ostensible gargoyles, there is also a peculiar sculpture facing Spain. It is worth getting in and admiring, above all, the wonderful altarpiece behind the main altar. Go for a stroll in Praça Luís de Camões, or Praça Velha, where you will find a statue of King D. Sancho, who attributed the city its charter.
Next to the Porta d'El-Rei, formerly the noble entrance of the city, is the old Jewry, in the area where the Jewish Quarter once was. The Jewish community has had its presence documented since the beginning of the thirteenth century, but evidence points to the existence of the neighbourhood before that date, and is therefore considered one of the oldest Jewish communities in the country. The neighbourhood used to reach the churchyard of the Church of San Vicente, the latter being, to this day, one of the Christian landmarks of the locality.
Museum of Guarda
The old Episcopal Seminary gave way, in 1940, to a Museum that currently has a remarkable collection. From archaeology to sacred sculptures, or regional ethnography and ceramics, the space traces an image of the country and the region since at least the Bronze Age. Highlight for two swords of that time, as well as for a collection of Roman numismatics and a polychrome granite from the 13th century. The building, constructed at the beginning of the 17th century, is also of great beauty.
José de Lemos Garden
Take a break just a few steps from the Museum in the garden José de Lemos. This green space was requalified in 2017, with cafes and also places to simply sit and admire the surrounding city chaos. There, various types of people can be found, from children to students and the elderly, often in conversation or playing cards. The main highlight goes to the Monument to the Dead of the Great War, in the centre of the garden, written by Júlio Vaz Júnior.
Municipal Theatre of Guarda
Very close to José de Lemos Garden, one can find the Municipal Theatre which, in 2005, came to energize the cultural life of the city. Trying to demystify the idea that nothing happens in the centre of the country, the space bets on local, national and international celebrities. Composed of two buildings, the work designed by the architect Carlos Veloso includes, in addition to the auditoriums, a concert café. See TMG's agenda and take the opportunity to add culture to your visit: a luxurious combination.
We leave the centre to discover one of the most significant monuments of Guarda. Today a Christian space, the Mileu Chapel had significant changes in its structure in the thirteenth century, but it is believed that its original construction predates that century. Some evidence points to the construction of the Chapel during Roman occupation, which left several marks in the region. However, this subject reveals a mystery yet to be unveiled. Nearby you can also find an archaeological station.
Rio Diz Urban Park
Right next to the train station and the VICEG we can find the largest public park in the city. Endowed with several attractions for the little ones, the Rio Diz Urban Park has dirt roads and other paths that invite you to a walk or a bike ride. However, if you much rather enjoy a fresh cup of coffee, there are indoor spaces and terraces where you can relax. In addition, the Park also has an area that usually hosts events, namely the Iberian Tourism Fair.
Hillfort of Tintinolho
Besides offering an impressive panoramic view of the region, the Hillfort of Tintinolho (Castro do Tintinolho), accessible by a path near the Polytechnic Institute of Guarda, is a true journey back in time. Built in the Iron Age and related to the Roman occupation until the Visigothic period, it was perfectly located, given the proximity of water and the fertility of the soils. Still visible are parts of the walls that, for several centuries, limited the settlement. The rest, it's up to the imagination.
If you venture by car, you can not miss the Caldeirão Dam in the vicinity. The surrounding nature invites a stroll along the waterfront, but the place also hides a secret for lovers of the outdoors and photography. At the end of the bridge, by the mountain, there is a path between the rocks, ending at a belvedere that provides an enviable view of the green areas and villages nearby. However, be careful, since sometimes the pedestrian path is a bit steep.