Avila, Castile-Leon (Spain)
The city of Avila de los Caballeros (Avila de los Caballeros) or simply Avila (the capital of the province of the same name) is located 115 km northwest of Madrid in the foothills of the Sierra de Guadarrama and Sierra de Gredos (Sierra de Gredos).
According to Prozipcodes.com, Avila is the highest provincial capital of Spain, it is located at an altitude of 1130 m. It is believed that even before our era Celtic tribes lived here, later the Romans. However, the heyday of the city began in the 11th century, when it was in the hands of Christians. Ávila was surrounded by fortifications, here they were engaged in sheep breeding and wool trade. By the 16th century Ávila turned into a major shopping center, where noble people lived and members of the royal family often stopped. Ávila’s fame was brought by his native, Saint Teresa. She was born here in 1515 and became a nun at the age of 20. Saint Teresa is known as a reformist, she significantly transformed monastic life, founded several monasteries and wrote many books. Now Saint Teresa is one of the patron saints of Spain.
The old town of Ávila, with its fortified walls, Romanesque churches and Renaissance palaces, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Strong fortress wall was built around the city in the 11th-14th centuries. There are 88 towers and 9 gates here. The height of the wall reaches 12 m, and its length is 2500 m. Next to the Puerta del Alcazar gate is the Cathedral, which was built in the 12th century in the Romanesque style and was included in the defensive line of the fortress walls, that is, the cathedral also performed defensive functions. The apse of the cathedral is part of the fortress wall, and two powerful towers rise above the facade. In subsequent centuries, the cathedral was rebuilt more than once and is now a mixture of Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance styles. The cathedral has 9 chapels. One of them contains the remains of the famous archbishop of Avila, Don Alonso de Madrigal, and the other houses a small museum that exhibits works by El Greco and works of religious art.
Inside the walls you can see more than 20 Renaissance mansions: the Palacio de Velada (16th century), the Palacio de Valderrabano (17th century), the episcopal palace Palacio del Episcopio (16th century), Palacio de Nunes de Vela (16th century) and Palacio de los Davila. The Palacio de los Davila is one of the most imposing palaces in Ávila. It consists of four fortified buildings, the oldest of which dates back to the 13th century, and is a whole fortress. Nearby rises tower Los Guzmanes, erected in the 16th century, now the regional government sits here. Be sure to go to the central square of the city – Plaza del Mercado Chico where the forum was located under the Romans. Here you will see the building of the City Hall and the Church of San Juan, where the font in which St. Teresa was baptized has been preserved. Every year during October, the Plaza del Mercado Chico hosts the celebrations of the Festival of Saint Teresa. St. Teresa, revered by every city dweller, is also reminiscent of the monastery of St. Teresa, which was built in 1636 on the site of the house where Teresa lived with her parents. The monastery has a museum dedicated to the saint.
Outside the walls of the Old City of Avila, the most interesting are the monasteries and churches. The Monastery of San Jose (1562) is considered the first of the monasteries founded by Saint Teresa. It contains the remains of her brother Lorenzo. Church of San Pedro , erected in the 12th century at the city walls, is considered the best example of the Romanesque architecture of the city. The Church of San Vicente was built between the 11th and 14th centuries and is the oldest Christian church in the city. Its architecture is a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic styles. According to legend, the basilica stands on the spot where Saint Vicente and his sister were martyred in Roman times. Inside the church are the tombs of the martyrs, decorated with unique sculptural compositions. Very beautiful monastery complex Real Monasterio de Santo Tomas the end of the 15th century, which was built under King Ferdinand II. The king and his wife chose this place as a summer residence, and already at the beginning of the 16th century a royal palace was built on the territory of the monastery. The dominant feature of the monastery complex is a monumental church surrounded by chapels. The interiors of the church are decorated with works by Pedro Berruguete. The remains of the famous inquisitor Thomas de Torquemada and the son of King Ferdinand II and his wife Queen Isabella, Prince Juan, are buried here. The Museum of Oriental Art is open in the royal chambers. In addition, outside the city walls, it is worth visiting the Convento de la Encarnacion Monastery (16th century), where St. Teresa took monastic vows and served for about 30 years. The monastery complex is a museum dedicated to the most revered saint of the city.
Many interesting places are located in the vicinity of Avila. To the north, between the two rivers Adaya and Arevalillo, is the city of Arevalo. Arevalo is famous for its Mudéjar buildings: the churches of Santa Maria La Mayor, San Martin, San Miguel and Santo Domingo de Silos, as well as the 15th-century castle where Queen Isabella I spent her childhood. A few kilometers from Arevalo is the church of La Lugareia, one of the most outstanding examples of the Mudéjar style in the region. Nearby is the city of Madrigal de las Altas Torres. (Madrigal de las Altas Torres), where Queen Isabella I was born. The name of the city was given by the numerous high towers of the city wall, of which 23 have survived today. Of the sights, one can single out the monastery of Nuestra Señora de Gracia (the former palace of King Juan II), in one of the chambers of which Queen Isabella I was born, the Church of San Nicolás de Bari with the highest tower in the region (75 m), the Church of Santa Maria del Castillo and the royal hospital of the 15th century.
South of Avila is the Sierra de Gredos., which is protected by the reserve of the same name. This truly picturesque place with many mountain rivers, waterfalls, lakes, rocks, glacial gorges and glaciers is a favorite vacation spot for Spaniards and foreign guests: there are many tourist centers in the mountains, many hiking trails and cliffs more than 2500 m high, attracting climbers and ice climbers. The northern part of the Sierra de Gredos is flatter, while the southern part is more rocky. The mountain goats ibexes are the symbol of these places, it is here that the most numerous in Spain lives. population of these animals. The most interesting sights of the Sierra de Gredos are Mount Almansor, at the foot of which is located the picturesque Laguna Grande Lake, the nearby Gredos Glacial Valley, along which the most exciting hiking route passes, and the Iruelas Valley with a picturesque waterfall, where rare birds of prey live. The main settlement of the southern part of the Sierra de Gredos is the city of Arenas de San Pedro (Arenas de San Pedro). Arenas de San Pedro is home to a 15th-century castle, a Roman bridge, the Gothic church of Nuestra Señora de Asuncion (16th century), the palace of Prince Don Luis de Bourbon, and the sanctuary of Peter of Alcantria (spiritual mentor of Saint Teresa) with a museum of religious art. In the northern part of the Sierra de Gredos, the city of El Barco de Avila stands out (El Barco de Avila), surrounded by picturesque landscapes. Ancient buildings such as the Gothic church of the 14th century and the castle of the 15th century, as well as the remains of the city walls, gates and a medieval bridge, have been preserved here.