Ávila is one of the oldest of all the cities in Castilla y León. The Celtic Iberians were the first to leave their mark, which can be seen in the stone boars and the nearby Castro de las Cogotas (hill fort), epicentre of the Vettone culture. The Romans also reached this area and the Arabs filled the area with their culture until the final conquest by the Christians.
Proud of its perfect combination of old and new, the city of the river Adaja invites visitors to take a look inside the city from the tops of the crenellations that have protected the city walls for centuries. However, only some sections of the walls are prepared for visitors wishing to see the excellent views of the city from above.
It is exactly this stone ridge that has made the city internationally famous, attracting tourists from all over the world who have come to follow the trail of Santa Teresa and explore a millenary city at the dawn of the 21st century. MURALLAS DE AVILA:
The eastern wall section is the most striking. Beyond it, the bulk of the city found outside the walls lies. According to the chronicles there seems to be doubt as to when construction began. However, documents exist that prove that the Frenchman Florín de Pituenga and the Roman Casandro were responsible for its geometry. The exact date as to when the first stone of this universal feat of engineering was laid, remains unknown. However some chroniclers believe that it dates back to the 11th century, taking 9 years to construct. 1900 people, mostly Muslims in captivity, helped construct this amazing piece of engineering. Consequently, in spite of it being classified as Romanesque, it contains remarkable Moresque features.
The contemporany construction of the Wall of Defence coinciding with that of the Nôtre Dame Cathedral was an important factor in the city´s development. For almost a millennium it was a means of protection for the city and a way of inspecting trade exchanges. The 2.5 km rectangular walls ( the equivalent of a 1-hour walk) contain nine gateways and over 2,000 crenellations keep watch over Ávila´s horizon as in past times. The Puerta del Alcázar and the gateway next to the Basílica de San Vicente are a must for every visitor.
THE FIRST GOTHIC CATHEDRAL IN SPAIN:
Visitors curious to see what modern Ávila is like inside should take their time in doing so if they really want to enjoy the streets, plazas, nooks and crannies. Tourists will not be disappointed while wandering around the Paseo del Rastro where a view of the Valle de Amblés may be had from the superbly preserved mirador (viewpoint). Another interesting panoramic view is that which is perceived from the northern façade of the walls or the view from the Cuatro Postes at dusk when the city walls are completely illuminated. Some interesting Romanesque churches can be visited such as the Iglesias de San Pedro, San Andres, San Esteben, San Segundo, San Nicolas, San Martin or Santo Tomé. The Cathedral church is thought to have introduced Spain to Gothic architecture. This, however is not its only feature. Its main altar painting, the cloisters and ambulatory are also worth the visit.
If visitors prefer to leap back to Medieval and Renaissance Ávila, what better way than visiting the Palacio de los Velada (palace), of the Valderrábanos, Núñez Vela, Polentinos and Dávila.