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Flag of Castile and LeonAvila

  • Segovia
  • Avila
  • Soria
  • Burgos
  • Palencia
  • Valladolid
  • Leon
  • Zamora
  • Salamanca

The province of Avila, the fields and sierras of Castile, lie against the huge mountain chain of the Gredos Sierra in the east of the province of Madrid. It has a surface area of over 8,000km2.

Gredos has a decisive bearing on the province and forms three valleys of fertile lands, three worlds with different sceneries: the valley of the Tormes, the one of the Alberche on the northern side and the one of the Tiétar in the lovely sun-trap area of the south. Lush vegetation grows on the slope; over the forest of pine, oak and holm oak tower bare, rugged peaks.

The fierce mountain scenery gives way to milder pictures on the way north until the plains are reached, the geological ruins at Madrigal and Arévalo. The villages at the foot of the rock walls, in the shadow of the forests or along the banks of the rivers or the all-engulfing solitude of the plain, are the essence of the spirit of Castile, built as they were on great heights to stand over barren land or watch a far-ranging horizon.

Its history, always connected with heroic deeds and military feats, is also a witness of its deep religious feelings and its mystic tendencies: Santa Teresa de Jesús and San Juan da la Cruz, the two great saints of Avila, helped to shape the customs, traditions, feelings and evotions everywhere in the lands, the twons and sierras of Avila.

Romanesque churches are found in all parts of the province in the company of still powerful-looking, challenging castles in ruins. In view of it's past and scenery, Avila is an inexhaustible source for the historian and the traveller, be he a mountaineer or a hunting or fishing sportsman.

The Capital

It is surrounded by walls and built on a hill on the banks of the Adaja, a river whose source is in the mountain area and which flows into the Duero. It has around 38,200 inhabitants and the distinction of being the highest city in Spain (1.127 meters). A short distance away on the Salamanca road is the obeservation platform called "Los Cuatro Postes", which offers the Best view of Avila. Its historical origins are Celtiberian, numerous sculptures depiciting bulls and pigs provide evidence of an old Iberian civilisation. Los Toros de Guisando are the most representative example of this art.

Christianity was first brought to Avila in the first century with the arrival of Bishop San Segundo. After the recoquest in the year 1085 by the king of Castile, Alfonso Vi, Avila was repopulated with Christian knights who, at the end of the 11th century began workon the impressive wall by order of Raimundo de Gorgoña. It was the residence of various kings of Castile, and the seat of several courts. Within its walls a worldfamous Spaniard, Santa Teresa de Jesús, was born, the reformer of El Carmelo, whose spirit has pervaded the city since the 16th century.

The Walls

Avila is the Best preserved walled city in the world. Its walls, which form an impressive monument, are rectangular in shape, with a perimeter of about two and a half ikometers, some two meters hgiht and three broad. The walls are reinforced by stout turrets at intervals of roughly twenty'five meters, ninety of them altogether, and the most important of them all is the one called "Cimorro" or Cathedral apse. It has nine gates, each of them open between strong turrets, among which the most outstandingly monumental are the ones called the gates of San Vicente and the Alcázar.

The Cathedral

The Cathedral, Romanesque and Gothic, is both a church and a fortress built into the city/s defensive enclosure. To the original fabric, which was begunin the early 12th century in Romanesque style, other parts and chapels in the Renaissnce style were subsequently added. The apse forms part of the wall with machicolations and bettlements. The main facsade has two 15th'c Gothic towrs, one of them unfinished, the work of the architect Juan Guas, although it was later renovated in the Baroque style.

The inside consists of three covered nave with Gothic vaults, a transept and double ambulatory around the chancel. Here there is a large reredos painted by Pedro de Berruguete, Juan de Borgoñay Santa Cruz, showing scenes from th life of Jesus. The whole of the choir stalls is in the Renaissance style, as is the master work of Vasco de la Zarza, who made the tobe of Bishop Don alonso de Madrigal "El Tostado" sculpted in alaBester in the 16th century.

In the Cathedral Museum one can find outstanding sculptures and artistic works, as well as interesting and valuable pieces in precious metal. Among them is a monstranc,e of exceptional quality, made by Juan de Arfe and other paintings, sculputres and works of embrodiery from between the 12th and 18th centuries, which make up a highly valuable artistic collection.

Palaces, Churches and Convents

Aristic architecture in Avila, whether of a lay or religious nature, seems inexhausible. the Palacio de Polentions, with its rich Platersque fasade; the Mansión de los Deanes, in the Renaissance style,and that of the Dávila, all embellished with magnificent patios are justly famous, as is the house of the Guzmanes, with the most beautiful turret in the city.

The Church of San Pedro is one of the finest examples of the Romanesque sytle, the evolution of which culminates in the Basilica of San Vicente, a monument which is representative of he transition to he Gothic, between the 12th and 14th centuries. The Virgin of la Soterraña is venerated in the crypt. Located outside the walls, are the Churches of San Nicolás, San Andrés and San Segundo, all Romanesque. Also outside the walled area, a visit can be paid to the Royal Monastery of santo Tomás in Late Gothic founded by the Catholic King and Queen. Inside we find the alabaster tomb of Prince Don Juan, a work by Fancelli; the reredos on the hgih altar is a work by Pedro de Berruguete.

Avila of Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa is everywhere in Avila, for example, in the convent devoted to her, constructed on the site of the parents/ home; in the convent of Nuestra Señora de Gracia where she began her education, and in the Monastery of la Encarnación, where one can visit several dwellings whose decoration is reminiscent of the period in which she lived in them. Another monatery directly linked to Teresa de Jesús is that of San José, known as "las Madres", her first foundation.

Las Navas del Marques, Cebreros, El Tiemblo, La Adrada

The area of Las Navas del Marqés has extensive pine groves and is a frequently'visited summer resort with such notable buildings as the castle, and the Gothic 15th-century parish church.

Situated in the Alberche river valley and very close to the burguillo reservoir is the historical village of El Tiemblo, with a 16th-century chruch and Cebreros, well known for its high alcohol content wines. On the outskirts is the Toros de Guisando meadow, with its interesting pre-Roman sculptures. in the whole region thee are plenty of pictuesque mountain villages, stiutated in the fertile Tiétar Valley, where the rural architecture is intace, and there ae also places for summer relazation. One can quote as the most typical examples of these, la Adrada, Piedralaves and Pedro Bernardo.

Mombeltran, Arenas de San Pedro, Candeleda, El Barco de Avila, Piedrahita

All of these small towns and villages of Avila blend historical and artistic reference with the variety of their many different landscapes dominated by the majestic mountain massif of the Sierra de Gredos. Its high peaks, almost permanently snow-covered, reach their highest point in the Pico de Almanzor, 2,592 meters high, which provides considerable opportunities for skiing.

The legendary town of Mombeltrán preserves the 14th-c castle of the Duques de Albuquerque, one of the most beautiful and typical castle. Somewhat farther on is Arenas de San pedro, regarded as a centre and starting point for pleasant excusions,among them that to La Cueva del Aguila (The Eagle' Cave). Candeleda is a spot notable for its markedly picturesque nature, while tradition has it that El Barco de Avila owes its name to the boat that was used to cross the River Tomes. Finally, Piedrahita boasts a lovely Gothic church and ruins of a palace.

Arevalo, Madrigal de las Altas Torres

In contrast to the villages scattered on the high mountains, thee are robust cities which, like Arécvalo, are situated in the lowlands of the province. Interested by two rivers it preserves old walls and a Mudéjar castle. Of the same style is the Church of San martín, in the Plaza (square) de la Villa, which is notable for its typical arcades.

Madrigal de las Altas Torres, birthplace of Isabel la Católica, is an historic village with many Mudéhar-style remains. The Real Monasterio (Royal Monastery) de las Agustinas, the Church of San Nicolás and the 15th-century Ral Hospital (Royal Hospital) ae preserved.


All the fiestas that take place in Avila have a religious connotation. The most important one which takes place in the captial from October 8th to 15th is in honour of Santa Teresa. Open-air dances, competitions and street entertainmens are organised and these are highly popular. The simplicity and profound religous nature of Holy Week in Avila is proverbial and dates back a long time.

Throughout the summer fiestas are held and public festivities organised in Avila and the province's most important villages. There are a large numver of pilgrimages and the bullfighting motif plays a large part in the fairs, like those of Arécalo, the first Sunday in July, with a typical encierro (corralling of the bulls) and the bullfight.

On the second Sundy of September Candeleda celebrates the festive-religious excursion or "Romeriá" of "La Virgen de Chilla", a celebration officially considered of Interest to Tourists. The participants called "romeros", dressed in popular costumes, visit the shirine of the Virgin on the slopes of the Gredos Mountains.

Cuisine in Avila

Gastronomy in Avila is plain and simple; the basis of its quality is to be foundin the quality of its ingredients. Its roasts are famous, particularly in the capital of Avila and Arévalo, as well as suckling pig throughout the province, veal in Piedrahita and trout from the river

Tormes. As far as confectionery is concerned mention should be made of: Yemas de Santa Eresa, huesillos fritos and las glorias de Avila, Cebreros wine is well known for its pleasant taste and high alcohol content.


There are two paradores in the province of Avila.

In the capital there is the three-star Parador Raimundo de Borgoña, and in the Sierra de Gredos (Navarredonda), the Parador de Gredos, which is also three-star one and the oldest Paradores in Spain.

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