Ávila

A convent inside a castle

The quiet Ávila, declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO, is a treasure from the middle Ages and the Renaissance period and it is protected by one of the best well-preserved walls in the world.

Do you want to visit this place?

Things to do in Ávila normally involve sightseeing the numerous main sights the city has and enjoying one of the best food in Castile and León. A visit to this marvelous city can be completed in a couple of days, enough time to go through all the cultural heritage Ávila offers us. Ávila looks like a convent within a castle: numerous churches (very often linked to the figure of Teresa of Ávila) enclosed by the walls of a city that seems to breathe peace and quiet. We propose you two different ways to get to know the city taking Santa Teresa’s plaza as the point of departure: one path goes through the indoor city and the other one deals with the outdoors. Before starting our outing, we cannot emphasize enough how important the Cuatro Postes (Four Posts) are: you will have one of the most beautiful views of the city and the walls from this site.

The wall, 2.5 km length, was built between the 11th and 14th centuries in a Romanesque style. From Santa Teresa’s plaza, you can enter the old city by different gates: the Alcázar Gate, the Leales Gate or Saint Vicente Gate. These gates lead to the Cathedral plaza, where one can visit the Cathedral (stated to be built in 1172 but finished in the 14th century). This temple inspired Paris’ Saint-Denis. Of this cathedral we highlight: the Apostles Door outside (13th century), and the main altarpiece (by Pedro Berruguete, Santa Cruz and Juan de Borgoña), the choir stalls, and the Renaissance Sepulcher (decorated by Vasco de la Zarza in 1518) inside. The Cathedral Museum is a must-see: it even has an El Greco’s painting. In the surroundings of the cathedral there are many mansions and palaces such as Polentinos PalaceDávila Museum (13th– 15th centuries), Bracamonte Palace (16th century), Mújica Palace (which houses the headquarters of the Provincial Council) and the Guzmanes Towers (14th century). Next to these towers, you will find Santa Teresa’s Convent, open in 1636 on the very house of the saint. Another complementary visit for those seeking after the footsteps of the saint, we recommend Nuestra Señora de Gracia Convent, where the saint firtstly experienced her monastic life; the Encarnación Convent, where she lived for more than 27 years, and the Teresiano Museum, full of memories of the saint. Finally, the last landmark inside the city is the Mercado Chico (Little Market), the heart of the city in terms of tapas, markets and atmosphere. There you can find the City Hall (19th century) and San Juan Church (15th and 16th centuries), where Saint Teresa and the musician Tomás Luis of Victoria got baptized.

Avila Cathedral

Our second route, outdoors the city, starts in Santa Teresa’s plaza as well, where you can find Saint Pedro church (12th– 13th centuries) and Santo Tomé the Old (12th century), which actually houses an annex of the Ávila Museum, which is situated in the Renaissance Deanes Palace form the 16th century. Next to the museum one can enjoy the Saint Vicente Romanesque Basilica, built at the end of the 11thcentury where Vicente, Sabina and Cristeta were martyred. In the outside part of the temple we must highlight the door called Glory of Ávila Door. Inside, you should pay attention to the sepulchers of the martyrs. Behind the basilica, Saint Andrés Church still preserves the most interesting capitals of the city. A bit further away, Santo Tomás Royal Monastery (1482-1493) is placed. This building used to be the summer residence of the Catholic Kings, as well as the headquarters of Torquemada’s Inquisition and a university center (the famous writer Gaspar Melchor of Jovellanos from the Enlightenment studied here) –the Oriental Art Museum is located here as well.

Must-see...

Basílica románica de San Vicente
Convento de Santa Teresa

Practical data

Coordinates

40° 39′ 0″ N, 4° 41′ 0″ W

Distances

Valladolid 119 km, Salamanca 98 km, Madrid 115 km

Altitude

1131 m

Inhabitants

59 258 (2013)

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