Ávila is the capital of the province of the same name that lies to the south of the Spanish autonomous community of Castilla y Leon. Ávila’s history dates back to the 5th century BC but the city is most famous for the stunning 11th century medieval city walls that encircle the city and that are some of the most well preserved in the world.
Ávila City Walls
Impossible to miss because they completely surround the city the medieval Walls of Ávila, built between the 11th and 14th centuries, are an imposing site. Their perimeter measures over two and a half kilometres round and has about 2,500 battlements, 100 towers, 6 doors and 3 secondary entrances.
The Cathedral of Ávila is believed to date back to the 12th century or earlier, depending on which account is believed. Either way construction continued into the 13th century with the first stages of the towers and aisles, in the 14th century with the completion of the towers, the cloister, the vaults and the flying buttresses and onto its completion by 1475.
The Hotel Las Leyendas is a 3 star boutique hotel with 19 rooms situated in a converted 16th-century building within the historic city walls.
Convento de Santa Teresa de Jesús
The Convento de Santa Teresa de Jesús was built in the 17th Century following the canonization of St. Teresa, Ávila’s patron saint, over the house where she was born. It contains her relics, along with those of her friend St. John of the Cross, in a small museum.
Within Ávila City Walls
Apart from the Cathedral and the Convento de Santa Teresa de Jesús the other main attractions within the city walls are the Plaza de los Dávila, which has more than a dozen Renaissance houses, including the mansion of Los Velada, the Palacio de Los Valderrábano, Núñez Vela and Palacio de Los Dávila.
There’s also the 16th century Los Guzmanes Tower, now headquarters for the regional Government and the Plaza del Mercado Chico (the city centre) where you can find the Town Hall and of the 15th Century Church of San Juan.
Outside Ávila City Walls
Basílica de San Vicente
The Basilica de San Vicente or, to give it its full name, the Basilica de los Santos Hermanos Mártires, Vicente, Sabina y Cristeta, dates from the 12th century and is one of many churches in Ávila and one of the best examples of Romanesque architecture in Spain. Legend says Vicente, Sabina and Cristeta were martyred during the rule of the Roman Emperor Diocletian and that their corpses were buried into the rock and later the basilica was built over their tombs.
Iglesia de San Pedro
Located outside the city walls in Plaza de Mercado Grande, The Church of San Pedro was built in the 12th and 13th centuries.
Real Monasterio de Santo Tomás
The 15th Century Gothic Monastery of Santo Tomás was the summer residence of the Spanish monarchs and despite not being within the city walls is one of Ávila’s most important buildings. The site is dominated by its church which has a single nave and the tomb of the Infante don Juan, son of the Monarchs. The convent area is situated around three cloisters with the former Royal quarters now occupied by the Oriental Museum.
Fiesta de Santa Teresa
Ávila celebrates its main fiesta, the fiesta de Santa Teresa, starts on October 15 with concerts, bullfighting, processions, food, drink and fireworks and Flamenco.