Off to see the main site in Tomar – the Convento de Cristo. I had read about this, I had seen photographs, but nothing prepared me for what I was about to experience. The convent was started in the early 1400s but saw the major building in the mid 1500s and they did a great job! 😉
The Templar Castle was builg in 1160 and is at one end, the Charola is the original church and was built in the 12th century. It is one of the most magnificent works of art I have ever see. Simply stunning.
The different cloisters are just as impressive and let’s not even mention the Manueline Window. This is one of those places that you can easily spend an entire day just wandering through. I almost did!
After that, I was left pretty much breathless but it was time to get on the road to Guarda. There was nothing that struck me in the description of Guarda to make me want to visit – but it was a convenient layover for the night between Tomar and Guimaraes, and close enough to some old castle towns I wanted to see.
I stayed at the Case da Se – another AirBnB find. It was OK, not great, not awful, but it was $26 for the night and it was right on the main square. This afforded me the luxury of arriving toward the end of the day, dropping off my belongings (actually, by this time I just had what I needed for the night in a backpack and the main bag was remaining in the car), and start exploring right away.
My DK Eyewitness book described Guarda as “spread over a bleak hill” and stated that it was “Portugal’s highest city, at 3,465 ft”. It also stated “the great fortress-like Se, with its flying buttresses, pinnacles and gargoyles, could never be described as lovely”. I must agree that it was not wrong, but there was something still a bit charming about Guarda. You could tell that it had seen better days, but I was able to do something I had not been able to do yet – nor would later. I was able to walk up the tiny, twisting, spiral staircase and step out onto the roof of the Se!In the end, Guarda was exactly what I thought it’d be – a convenient overnight stop. It was my least favorite of all the places I visited – sad, but some place has to be!
I went to sleep as in the morning, I had a lot of driving to do. I was heading to explore some old castle towns along the Spanish border!