Avila in Spagna

Avila in Spain: what to see in the city of walls and Santa Teresa

Within the perfectly preserved walls of Avila, visitors are transported to another world. Or rather in another time. In fact, the ancient ramparts guard masterpieces of the past- Romanesque churches, medieval convents and Renaissance palaces – in a context where it is always exciting to walk aimlessly. For this reason, for the extraordinary richness of monuments and the particular atmosphere, Avila in Spain is one of the most charming cities in the country and one of those entered by theUNESCO among the World Heritage Sites.

An excellence that has a long and noble history: during the Middle Ages Avila, in the region of Castile and Leonwas disputed between the died And Christians until the recapture by Alfonso VI in 1085.

In the beginning it was Avila de los Caballeros

Many noble families settled here in the early 11th century. And this arrival of high-born personalities changed the face of the city. With its numerous aristocratic palaces the city became known as Avila de los Caballeros (aka Avila dei Nobili). However, it is not only a historical or architectural legacy. The highest point of Avila’s splendor was reached in the 16th century when the great mystical legacy of Santa Teresa de Jesus made it an important destination for pilgrims. History, spiritualityancient stones but also nature: the natural context helps to make this place extraordinary given that the city stands on a plateau made more suggestive by the frame of the mountains Sierra Gredos.

Avila in Spain

Avila in Spain: let’s start from the walls

The ancient wallswhich still enclose the heart of the old city, are the best preserved in the Spain. After the Christian reconquest of Avila, the ramparts became an important line of defense to keep the Moors out. Raimundo de Borgoñafather-in-law of Alfonso VIbuilt the massive wall shelter for the city between 1090 and the 1099. With a rectangular shape following the perimeter of the city, the ramparts stretch an extraordinary length of over two and a half kilometers.

It is still enough today to stand in front of the walls of Avila to understand that those imposing structures had an absolutely warlike function. I’m twelve meters high on average and every twenty meters one rises crenellated tower from where the fighters could defend themselves more safely and securely. There are then nine entrance doors fortified and the most spectacular are the Puerta de San Vicente and the Puerta del Alcazar for the construction of which stones from ancient Roman artifacts were also used.

And the journey through history thus, also for this reason, becomes even more exciting. Between these two doors is the apse of the cathedral which, strange to say, was part of the city’s defense lines. Next to the Puerta del Carmen, on the north side of the city, there is a thinner tower which is worth seeing because it has now become the nesting area for storks. From here starts a walking tour that allows you to discover the beauty of the city.

Discovering the cathedral

Among the things to discover on our trip to Avila in Spain there is certainly the aforementioned San Salvador Cathedral which claims to be the oldest gothic cathedral of Spain. In addition to being a point of reference practically visible from every point of the city and an integral part of the defense system. The construction of the cathedral began in 1091 in the Romanesque style. But the works continued until the 14th century: that’s why the dominant architectural style is Gothic. The huge stone structure has a fortress-like appearance. But not only war: it is noteworthy for its beauty the door of the Apostles on the north facade which dates from the 15th century and which impresses with its splendid decorations.

The interior is also splendid and above all interesting because it tells the story of the long construction. Outside is the Gothic, inside there are traces of the first design phase with pink and white granite inserts. The windows are also beautiful colored glasses and the richly carved decorations on the choir. During the visit of the cathedral, a stop in front of the altarpiece painted by Vasco de la Zarza in the main chapel and at the works of Pedro Berruguete And Juan de Borgoña.

There Capilla de San Antolín it is notable for its magnificent retable. Take a high then into the sacristy to see unique alabaster sculptures attributed to Isidro Villoldo And Pedro de Salamanca.

Avila and the memory of Santa Teresa

The convent of St. Theresa it is right in front of the Puerta de la Santa, in the place where Santa Teresa is believed to have been born. Designed by architect Fray Alonso de San Jose and founded in 1636, the convent of Saint Teresa of Jesus it was built to house Carmelite nuns. The church has a beautiful Baroque facade, relatively plain by the standards of the time, with a statue of St. Teresa above the door.

The main feature of the interior is the room in which he was born St. Theresa transformed into one baroque chapel tastefully decorated. The altar obviously pays homage to the saint with a statue of Gregorio Fernández which depicting the moment of vision of the cross by Teresa and her ecstasy. And it is a very rich work, with an enormous use of jewels and precious fabrics.

The convent allows tourists to visit the church, the hall of relics and its museum. And if you want to sleep in a unique environment, you can do it without going too far: a historic hotel, the Parador de Avilais located on Calle Marques Canales de Chozasa few steps from the convent of Santa Teresa.

Avila in Spain

Avila in Spain and the monastery of the Inquisition

The Dominican Monastery of San Tomas it is located outside the circle of the city walls in a suggestive and peaceful area. It has a very long history and a royal coat of arms. It was founded in 1483 by Maria Davila And Tomas de Torquemadathe first Grand Inquisitor of Spain thanks to a donation from the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella.

Also for this reason the royals used it as their own summer palace. The facade of the church has an austere appearance and its interior is decidedly bare, with the exception of the high altar and the choir where there are richly carved pews. A detail that can impress is that the members of the Tribunal of the Inquisition they gathered for their meetings right among these stones while i king of Spain they used to attend mass.

The high altar is embellished with a beautiful retabloa masterpiece of art by Pedro de Berrugueteillustrating scenes from the life of St. Thomas Aquinas. Despite its history linked to the pain of the Inquisition, the monastery is today a place of serenity with three beautiful cloisters: the simple Clauster of the Noviciadothe quiet Claustrum of Silencewith the steps leading to the choir, and the historian Claustro de los Reyes.

Beyond the walls is the basilica

Remaining outside the city walls, beyond the Puerta de San Vicenteyou meet there Basilica of San Vicente the most important church in Avila after the cathedral. There Romanesque church it stands on the site where the saint is believed to have been martyred in AD 300. Much of the church dates from the early 12th century, including part of the nave, apses and transepts. The rest of the building was completed in the 14th century. The southern door dates back to the oldest phase and is the most beautiful due to the presence of exceptional Romanesque bas-reliefs describing the story of the Annunciation.

During the Middle Agesthe city of Avila hosted a large, thriving and influential Jewish community. Jews lived in two areas within the walls: in the northeastern corner around the Puerta de San Vicente and in the southwestern corner between the Puerta de la Mala Dicha and the Puerta del Puente. The medieval cobbled streets and hidden squares still hint at the legacy of the past and hint at what life was like back then.

Avila and the connection with the Jews

The former Calle Andrinlater renamed Calle Reyes Católicos, it once housed shops and craft workshops run by many Jews. For this reason one of the synagogues of the city, the Belforad Synagogueis located on this road where the chapel also stands, built in the 16th century, dedicated to Nuestra Senora de las Nieves.

South of the chapel is a lodging called The Synagogue which occupies the former rabbi’s house and is filled with Jewish references. There Calle de los Zapatero (i.e. the street of the shoemakers) is so called because that of the shoemaker was precisely one of the main jobs performed by the Jews. This neighborhood is worth a visit no hurry. Everywhere there are houses and memories. And scholars in recent years have tried to find the correspondence between the houses and the events narrated in the documents of past centuries.

Avila in Spain: the best time to visit and how to get there

Avila in Spainwhich is the capital of the province of the same name in the region of Castile and Leonis located in the hills, in what is called the monthto beyond 1,100 meters of altitude. For this the climate is continental with harsh winters and snow during the winter. Summers, on the other hand, are short and hot and dry.

The best period therefore to visit it are the spring and autumn but summer can also be a good time. To reach it the best way is certainly the plane thanks to the airport Madrid which is approx 110km. From Madrid there are also very frequent trains that arrive at the station of Avila, sul Paseo de la Estación.

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