Introduction

Forte, farta, fria, fiel e formosa (strong, rich, cold, loyal and handsome): such is the popular description of Portugal’s highest fully-fledged city. Hunkered down on a hilltop, it was founded in 1197 to guard young Portugal against both Moors and Spaniards (hence the name).

Nowadays this district capital is a delightful place to spend an afternoon. Old Guarda is perched on a steep hill, a rambling climb from the IP5 or the train station, both roughly 5km northeast of the old centre. From the bus station on Rua Dom Nuno Álvares Pereira, it’s 800m northwest to the cathedral square and the heart of the old town.