If you think of day trips from Madrid, you already know that there are many options. Toledo , Segovia , they are safe bets, but you may already know them. Why not go a little further? Visiting Ávila is a great idea , since there are quite a few trains that connect it with Madrid, for example, and it is a small city, very manageable. I promise you that just walking the famous wall will have been worth it, but there is more, so I bring you 5 places to see in Ávila in one day for when you can. For now, I offer you a virtual visit 🙂
Ávila is a small, humble city that in many intramural corners seems like a full-fledged town. The most monumental part of the center has a severe air due to the granite blocks with which the cathedral, many churches and some palaces were built. In the main square it is not uncommon to find a party if it is the weekend, and if it is not very cold, the terraces invite you to have a vermouth with a cover, as you have always done. In addition to the atmosphere, it has a lot to visit. We start with this mini-gallery (you can click on each photo to see it bigger) and let’s get down to it!
5 places to see in Ávila
The 4 posts
I start by telling you Ávila from the outskirts . Do not fear because it is not far away. In fact, it is surprising that being so close it provides incredible views of the city, immaculately surrounded by its impressive walls.
The 4 posts is a religious monument formed by four columns and a cross in the center .
From the 4 posts Ávila looks like a Christmas postcard, or a toy town, a model …
To get there you just have to take a walk along Avenida de Madrid, parallel to the walls. Crossing the river Adaja by a pedestrian bridge, you immediately reach the promontory where this unmistakable monument is located.
They say that Santa Teresa and her brother were surprised by their uncle in the 4 Postes, when they escaped to “Moorish lands . ” They left to die martyred and thus find enlightenment. The children were 5 and 6 years old, and the idea had occurred to Teresa, who was already a little person with arms to take up and a spirit of leadership.
I never liked the figure of this saint, mystic, who apparently stared at the sky with his mouth open when you least expected it, and then told you that God had said something to him. But it is fair to recognize that if you think back to the time, the fact that a woman managed to study and impose herself on powerful men , founding centers where (religious) women were educated, among other things, is not silly. More if she was of humble origin.
The thing is that, as I was telling you a little above, from the 4 posts you have an incredible view of the city surrounded by the wall. Of course, you cannot miss the places to see in Ávila.
The Wall of Ávila
If Ávila has something, it is its impressive wall , more than well preserved, which continues to enclose the city as it did all its life. Of course it has been renovated and made beautiful, it is not as it would be if no one had touched it in centuries, but we are not going to love it less for that.
As soon as you get closer, it is impressive, and when you climb one of its towers, you begin to understand that you are in a special place.
Every few meters there is a tower. The battlements follow one another, almost perfect, while you scan the horizon outside, or turn around to look inside. The houses, the roofs, the churches looming between them. A festival of details that are torn between the historical flavor and some modernities.
One of these “modernities” is the explanatory posters that are in each section. Here they tell you how they defended themselves from enemies from up there. That if they threw boiling oil, that if later they made use of cannons and carabiners … There they tell you about the prisoners who populated the dungeons that were under your feet, living in very sorry conditions. And of the Jews, the Mudejars, the neighborhood of the butchers …
Here is one of the first texts that you find on the wall of Ávila:
This wall is like a great book in which all styles, cultures, languages, worldviews are present. Vettones, Romans, Visigoths, Arabs, medieval men, mystics and romantics , all left their mark on him. Of the Vettones, the first settlers of the city (Obila), we find numerous embrasures embedded in the walls. Representations of animals that could be icons of life, fertility or protection .
Between poster and poster you continue walking along the catwalk, accessible even for wheelchairs, while you enjoy the Castilian breeze and the views, the roughness of the stone, the Mudejar details, and the verticality of the walls when you you peek between the battlements. Those battlements.
Did you know that the wall of Ávila is a World Heritage Site ? And what is from the Romanesque period, that is, from the Middle Ages? Well, actually this second statement is not correct if we get purist.
Many remains of the Romans (not Romanesque, heh, heh) have been found among the stones. Even funeral items. There is actually a lot, a lot of reused material. Historical materials that today would be archaeological remains and therefore would not be used for a new work. But then no, then you had to be practical and take advantage of the work done a few centuries earlier to save. This is what durable materials have, nothing to do with our current lifestyle.
- The website of the wall of Ávila is very good and you have a lot of information.
- There are two entrances and the price of the ticket is € 5 (October 2018).
This was another point chosen to recreate ourselves in the history and art of Ávila, on that bright day in October. The truth is that it surprised me for good. Both outside and inside.
We are in what they say is the first Gothic cathedral in Spain , a National Monument and also a World Heritage Site.
Like other cathedrals of its style, the height of its ceilings, columns, flying buttresses and buttresses are impressive. In addition, I would highlight the stained glass. It has its own personality that makes it different from other cathedrals and the truth is that I really liked it.
- Entrance fee to the Cathedral of Ávila: € 6 (October 2018)
- Visiting hours: 2 pm to 9 pm
Basilica of San Vicente
I don’t remember if it was closed, or we were tired. The fact is that we decided not to enter the Basilica of San Vicente, one of the most emblematic churches in Ávila.
They say that Vicente, Sabina and Cristeta were martyred and buried here. Some names from ancient times never cease to amaze me.
Outside the walls, very visible from the wall, we do enjoy its exterior view and arcaded gallery. It is worth it 🙂
Church of Santo Tomé el Viejo, today annex of the Provincial Museum
This is a curious place that we managed to visit before taking the train back. An old Romanesque church that became “The Garage of Spain” , where cars were repaired and gasoline was served until 1960. Today it is an annex of the Provincial Museum of Avila , a warehouse full of archaeological jewels that can be visited.
From the mosaics arranged on the floor, to anthropomorphic stone tombs, wooden beams with drawings as faded as they are beautiful, ancient capitals that long ago were left without their corresponding column, religious statues. That’s it, a warehouse full of treasures to let your eyes and imagination wander. Centuries of history compressed into shelves, walls, and floors.
The visit to the museum itself is pending for the next one.
- Entrance to the Church of Santo Tomé el Viejo: free on Saturdays and Sundays; € 1.20 from Tuesday to Friday.
- Closed on Sunday afternoons and on Mondays.
Ávila has much more, but if your plan is to go and come back in the day, you will have to choose, as I did on that occasion. In any case, do not stop doing the tour of the wall and the 4 posts!