I’m not going to tell you about its incredible history, you have Wikipedia for that. I’m not going to tell you that it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site (well,.. I just told you), or that King Alfonso VI of Castilla ordered their construction in the 11th century.
I’m going to tell you about the experience of seeing the walls. It’s possible that you are someone who doesn’t like to follow the typical tourist path when you go to a city. Well, the most typical thing to do in Ávila is see the walls, and if you don’t walk around the top of the walls like everyone else, you’re really missing out. Visit them. See them. Climb them. Walk them. Not just from the outside, but paying the 4 € free and walking around the walls. Do it! It’s an order!
Seriously, it’s completely worth it. It will take you back to another era and give you an idea of what a city needed to be able to survive those times. You’ll be surprised at how well conserved they are (which began back in 1596 when King Felipe II ordered restoration work done on the walls).
And once you’ve arrived at the Cathedral, you have my permission to take a break and eat at one of the few (but excellent) high-quality restaurants within Ávila.
The Cathedral of Ávila is the first Gothic cathedral built in Spain and quite a sight to behold. It's "gothic" both in atmosphere and architecture: the stones are old and dark and the domes are imposing, but the beauty of the Avila cathedral is found in the details. If you take a closer look, you'll find amazing sepulchers, evocative statues, and a variety of ornate chapels tucked into hidden corners...there's even a painting by the legendary painter El Greco.
It only costs two euros to enter and is simply wonderful. The medieval atmosphere and somber echo through the large vaulted hall are the essence of this incredible ancient walled city. If you're in Ávila, it's a must!
The Basilica of San Vicente is one of many worthwhile churches in the medieval city of Ávila, but it stands out for its unique and exquisitely carved cenotaph (symbolic tomb). It's located right outside of the imposing city walls and is quite cheap to visit, only 2 euros if I remember correctly.
According to legend, the church was built on the spot where St. Vincent and St. Sabina were martyred, and the cenotaph documents the story of their martyrdom via intricately carved and painted wooden figures. The colors of the cenotaph along with the dramatic lighting really make it something to behold...in fact, I spent quite a while poking my head right up close to admire all the little details.
The church is one the road that connects the train station (for those of you coming via train from Madrid) and the historic city, so I'd recommend visiting it first on your route to get you into the medieval mood.
It's an emblematic spot of Avila. Outside of the city, on a hill near the Adaja River, you'll find this monument consisting of four columns and a central cross, but best part is the views of the city from there.
Ávila is not what I'd consider a "cheerful" place...it's of course picturesque, historical, and monumental, but the imposing city walls, Gothic churches, and somber stone architecture gives it a solemn and somber atmosphere. That's why entering into the bright Santa Teresa Convent is such a welcome shock to the system.
The convent is free to visit, and when you enter you find a gleaming white hall filled with warm sunlight filtering through the windows and cheerful choir music emanating from some unseen speakers. It makes you want to sit down and take it all in for a few minutes. It's a surprising ray of cheerfulness and light in an otherwise grey and somber Ávila.
The convent obviously pays tribute to Santa Teresa, the main saint in Ávila, and my favorite part was the domed ceiling painted in white with geometric designs in gold. It's definitely a place to check out during our next day-trip to Ávila!
The "City of Saints and Stones" is considered by many experts as one of the best preserved medieval walled cities in the world. The "city of 3 cultures" houses the wall, one of the best preserved in Spain and a symbol of the city, with 14 meter high walls that are 2.5 kmlong and 3 feet thick. The construction dates back to around the 11th or 12th century. The Cathedral is the oldest Gothic Cathedral in Spain and the head is mounted in the wall. It also has numerous Romanesque and Gothic churches of great value as well as stately homes and palaces that enhance the military, mystical character.
This is the heart of the city of Avila, there is the statue of Santa Teresa, beside the Church of San Pedro, and opposite the Puerta del Alcazar, from where it reaches the apse of the magnificent cathedral that is built into the majestic city wall. Under the arcades, antique shops, there are coffee shops and grocery stores to buy the sweetest buds of Santa Teresa, and under the ground you can find one of the parking lots where you can park your car to visit this monumental city slowly. I recommend the visit greatly, it is fantastic to see and enjoy.
Outside the perimeter of The Walls, opposite the Puerta del Alcázar, the so-called Great Market Square, is the Church of San Pedro. A Romanesque-style church with a Latin cross with three naves. Built in the twelfth century, it underwent major transformations in the fourteenth century. Of the 3 doors that it has, the bestis the door with 5 Archivolts north and west and with 6 Archivolts door and a large rose window.
Avila is the perfect city for a on day visit. For those who live in Madrid it is great because we can stand there with just a short train journey and it is quite cheap! Chico Market Square is a must for visitors, it is a traditional square and it is also pretty small. The town hall is the most beautiful facade of the plaza and makes for very good photos in the morning and afternoon.
The Paseo del Rastro is a scenic walkways that extends around the Rastro Gate of Ávila's old city walls. The street offers two views which are really quite stunning: 1.) the countryside and meadows surrounding the old city, and 2.) the amazingly well-preserved defensive walls. It's common to see people from all walks of life gathering here to have a chat in the sun and plenty of couples enjoying the unbeatable views.
The Medieval Market is going to celebrate its 15th anniversary on the first weekend of September, but also, apart from the market, throughout the week there are scheduled activities such as exhibitions and concerts related to the period. The medieval Market in Avila does not need artificial decorations, since it is located in a medieval environment, so that gives it a special atmosphere that no other medieval markets can boast of having.
The Puerta del Alcázar, you could say, is the main and most important door in the walls of Avila. It is very easy to identify and locate as there is no other door that is accompanied by two large towers joined by a kind of footbridge. Specifically in the Puerta del Alcázar de Ávila has one element like other walls, the battlements, since in 1907 the architect Repullés conducted a restoration by adding the battlements. It is believed to imitate the other San Vicente door, as the door of San Vicente was built much more robustly and gave protection - other than just natural protection. Keep in mind that the walls of Avila include 9 gateways, some of the most important are: La Puerta de San Vicente, the Puerta del Rastro, the Gate of the Loyal or Flour Weight Gate or Ventura Poor Gate or Poor Said.
Passing the walls of the city, we arrived at the square, or market. There is a clear view of the town hall, and in the morning, scattered throughout the square there are the market stalls. Here is where they sell the local products, any garments, nuts .. This is a magnificent setting to buy things and take a walk. Its surprising how quickly the site is cleaned up after the market leaves.
Avila is a UNESCO World Heritage city famous for the centuries-old city walls that surrounds the city. In fact, it’s widely considered the best preserved medieval walled city in the world! In its day, the wall served against the cold and the conquerors and today is one of the main attractions in Avila.
Unsurprisingly, walking the wall in one of the most popular things to do in Avila. You can access the wall via one of the many towers and explore at your leisure like a medieval knight! Keep time in mind as the wall is over two and a half kilometers long, but once you see the views from the top you’ll understand why it’s one of the most celebrated Avila attractions.
The city is also a treasure trove Gothic and Romanesque architecture, and lovers of religious art will find shortage of interesting things to see in Avila. One of the most important examples is the Basilica of San Vicente, located in the heart of the city. This basilica, aside from being one of the most famous places to visit in Avila, also houses the relics of St. Vincent and those of this two sisters. You’ll find the stunning Avila Cathedral only a few feet away.
Finally, you can end up your list of stuff to do in Avila with a visit to the Provincial Museum. Oh, and don’t forget to make time for lunch to enjoy one of Avila famously large and juicy steaks! For more on what to do in Avila, have a look at the recommendations from the minube community and find all the best Avila activities.