Guarda

Located between the north-eastern plateaus of Portugal lies the city and region of Guarda.  The city only has a population of 32,000 people.  Guarda was founded by Portugal’s second king, Sancho I, in 1199.

At over 1,000 meters in elevation, Guarda stands as the highest city in Portugal.  The elevation plays a big figure in its climate.  Daytime high temperatures in July and August rarely exceed 28 degrees Celsius.  At the same time, the low temperatures in the summer are roughly 15 degrees.  In winter, the January average high temperature is a chilly 11 degrees Celsius, with lows of 4 degrees.  Guarda receives on average over 112 centimetres of rain annually, with summer being drier.

The most significant architectural achievement in Guard is the Se da Guarda.  After two prior cathedrals built at the site, the third cathedral is the one that stands today.  This cathedral was built starting in 1390 and work continued into the 15th century.  Most of the cathedral was constructed using the Gothic style of many windows, pointed arches for windows and doors, and large rooms with very high ceilings.

Later additions to the third cathedral adopted Renaissance influences on architecture, which produced the Manueline style of building.  Work completed in 1540 on the cathedral.  Although other elements from other styles were added in following centuries, these other embellishments were removed during an 1898 renovation of the cathedral.

Other sights to check out in Guarda are the Museu da Guarda, which opened in 1940 and housed in a 17th century seminary.  The basement of the museum contains weapons used in Guarda throughout the ages.  The main floor contains four separate rooms, all dedicated to a specific period (prehistoric, Roman Empire, middle Ages, and Renaissance) in the history of Guarda.  The top floor is used for travelling exhibits and local artisans.

Another unique artefact exclusive to Guarda is the Ferreiros Tower and Gates, which are the only signs of medieval architecture remaining in the town.  The Ferreiros Tower and the two gates, named Porta d’El Rei and Porta da Erva, are named national monuments, and are wildly popular with tourists for the amazing 360 views of the region.

The city of Guarda is served by Porto Airport, which is located 143 kilometres from the town centre.  To access Guarda and other nearby destinations, consider car hire at Porto Airport to get around.

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