GUARDA – 70km east of Viseu, and at an altitude of over 1000m – is claimed by its inhabitants to be the highest city in Europe, an assertion to be taken with a pinch of salt. However, it’s certainly the highest in Portugal, chilly and windswept for large parts of the year and offering endless views, especially to the east into Spain. Guarda was founded in 1197 by Dom Sancho I, to guard the borders against both Moors and Spaniards. Both castle and walls have all but disappeared, but an impressive cathedral survives to dominate the picturesque town centre. You could see everything in half a day, though it’s worth a night, if only to consider whether the city’s traditional description as Fria, Farta, Forte e Feia – cold, rich, strong and ugly – is at all fair. Ask any local, however, and they’ll swear that it’s been “five Fs” – Feia being replaced with Fiel (loyal), and Formosa (beautiful) – for as long as they can remember.

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