Thursday, January 01, 2009

May 22, 2008 - Guarda, Portugal

Fria, farta, forte e feia, simply Cold, rich, strong and ugly goes the local Portuguese description for Guarda. A fortified town overlooking the Spanish border about 10 miles to the east, at 3,500 feet Guarda is the highest town in Portugal. Replete with narrow streets, defensive wall and a couple of surviving gates, the highest part of town sports a large square and one of the ugliest Gothic cathedrals known to man. Built in the 14th and 16th centuries, the interior is quite graceful with twisted pillars, arched vaulting and a Renaissance altar of white marble, gilded in the 18th century with 100 high-relief figures. Other churches within the city walls include the Misericordia and São Vicente Church. Sights from around town can be seen here.
Formerly thought to have been a military base for Julius Caesar, then for the Visigoths and eventually for the Moors, modern Guarda was founded in 1199 by the second king of Portugal, Sancho I, has a population of about 31,000 and includes 55 parishes.

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