The train to Guarda

“So much holds me back, my dear friend Guarda”. By Tatiana Albino

The verses penned by D. Sancho I, who founded the city of Guarda in 1199, let you catch a glimpse of the charms the city offers that hold you and make you want to stay longer. 

Perched 1,056m up, the city is swept by the cold winds from the Serra da Estrela hills. The locals are accustomed to it, but you can't say they are cold in any way, as they welcome you to try some tasty nibbles and are always happy to share a tale.

A poet, Júlio Ribeiro, used several F-words to describe the city but none was the English F-word: 'Farta (bountiful), Fria (cold), Fidalga (noble) and Feiticeira (bewitching)', but only two are still left over. “Farta”, for the fertile land that surrounds it and “Fria” from the chilly hug it gets from Serra da Estrela. 

Over the years it has been given more Fs. “Fiel” (faithful), for the historical refusal of the castle's mayor to hand over the keys to the King of Castela. “Forte” (strong), for its fortified building and “Formosa” (beautiful), for its beauty. 

The city, bathed in the western sunshine, makes the winter cosy and we just need to take a closer look to find some inspiring piece of granite to amaze us. We look around and can almost feel the mysticism of other times that the city hides on every corner. 

It is easy to lose track of time as you wander round Guarda. It doesn't take much effort to find the symbol that crowns the cite: the cathedral. A dream of princesses' weddings, monument and house of communion. 

Guarda cathedral makes us look up towards the sky. Whether you are believers or not, its impressiveness conquers all. Built in the reign of D. João I, in the 16th century, the cathedral is proof of ageing gracefully. The Portuguese even say “As old as Guarda cathedral” because it is so old, but its beauty and impressiveness cannot be denied. 

Guarda is a 3-D city, where climbing up and down the roads is part of live. But it is the sounds, smells and the surrounding mountains that give it the mysticism of the Beira Alta region. 

See the photos of the tour here.