Avila and its most important landmark, The medieval city wall.
It is unique in the world and entirely encircles the Old Town.
It has been uninterrupted and intact since it was built between the 11th and 14th centuries.
A World Heritage Site, it’s also the only fully illuminated monument of its size.
The walls have a perimeter of 2516 meters and feature 87 towers and nine gates.
They rise on a plateau on top of a rocky landscape with the left bank of the river Adajar down below.
1.5 km of the walls are walkable, with several access points along the wall.
The views from the walls and towers reach far as several palaces and monuments.
A part of the cathedral is integrated into the walls, which means you can see stone carvings and details up close.
A second line of defence within the walls is formed by some palaces which served as dwellings and fortresses simultaneously.
Outstanding among them, although not forming part of the wall itself, is the Palacio de Superunda near the Tower of Guzman.
It’s the best restored of all the palaces and has an exciting history.
In 1916, the Italian painter Guido Caprotti from Monza visited Spain to study the works of Spanish masters.
On his way to Leon, he got stuck in a snowstorm in Avila and never left.
He fell under the city’s spell and purchased the Palacio de Superunda.
He restored it and converted it into his atelier and living quarters.
He quickly became a `son of Avila`, painting city scenes repeatedly in all seasons and making a good living through portraits of the local society.
The Centre point of the Old Town is a plaza called Mercado Chico.
A church, the town hall and cafes and restaurants border it.
Fiestas, processions and, in times past, an actual market are held in this lively place.
This is where we come to the sweets of Avila.
Called `yemas`, they are little mounts made from flour, egg yolk and sugar and go ideally with a coffee with milk.
The `yemas’ are produced by nuns in several convents that abound in Avila due to the Santa Teresa of Avila.
She was a 16th-century mystic and Carmelite nun who reformed the order.
She is the patron Saint of Spanish writers and sold in pastelerias around Mercado Chico.
Walk the walls with a bag of `yemas’ in your hand (and water), and enjoy the views and atmosphere of an extraordinary city.
Places to stay
You can find some excellent medieval alternatives if you want to stay overnight in Avila.
Palacio de los Velada is an exciting 16th-century palace.
Luxurious rooms and a great restaurant.
More Medieval cities in Castilla-Leon
Castilla-Leon is the largest region of Spain, right in the middle of the Iberian peninsula.
It is famous for its many medieval cities, Romanesque and Gothic monuments and buildings.
Burgos, Leon, Valladolid, Segovia, Avila and Salamanca are the most famous and well-known.
The best way to view them is a round trip with Madrid as the starting point.
You will get an overwhelming experience in history and art.
Travel by Train
Travelling by train is a very convenient way of getting around in Spain.
From AVE (high-speed) to Talgo (fast long-distance train) to local trains, they are all fast, comfortable and cheap.
Most cities mentioned above are difficult to manage by car; narrow roads, plenty of pedestrian zones, and expensive parking make train travel a much better option.