The Most Charming Walled City in Spain
By Guest Travel Writer: Kerwin McKenzie
Are you a fan of walled cities? If you are, then you should head to Avila, Spain in the Castilla y Leon (Castles and Lions) province of Spain. Located just about an hour and a half drive from the Madrid Bajaras airport, it’s a city waiting to be discovered. This walled city is also known as the “City of Knights” which dates back to the 5th Century BC.
When you visit, you will see why in 1985 the city became a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Avila is the birthplace of Santa Teresa de Avila. This year, 2015, is 500 years since her birth on March 28, 1515. For this reason, the region is having many celebrations, as well as museums exhibits, one of which is in Avila. It is called the ‘Teresa de Jesus at the Provincial Archives’ and details many original documents showing her life and death. You can find out more about the celebrations here.
Even if you are not Catholic, you should take a look at the exhibits about her life in the Centro de Interpretación de la Mística, Iglesia Convento de Sta Teresa. In the early days, living inside the walls were reserved only for royalties, but all that has changed today. You will find beautiful restaurants, churches, hotels, shopping and apartments all within the city walls.
Outside, the sprawling city with its red top buildings is a sight to behold, especially when you take a tour walking along the top of its walls.
While there are many hotels in the area, I stayed and will highly recommend the Hotel Palacio de Los Velada.
I was walking by and looked through the window at the interior courtyard and said to myself:
“That is such a nice hotel, I’d love to stay there.”
Then our guide said,
“That’s the hotel we are staying;”
Oh, the irony!
Located next to the Cathedral of San Salvador, the hotel, a 16th century palace, was restored in 1995 and retains the essence of the original palace. The interior of the rooms retains the old wooden flavor of that era as well as the high ceilings of its time. The hotel does have a suite, but unfortunately it was occupied at the time so I did not have a chance to see it.
Here are the hotel details if you decide to stay there:
Plaza de la Catedral, 10, 05001 Ávila
Tel: + 920 25 51 00
Where To Eat
It’s Spain, so there is no shortage of places to eat and drink inside and outside of the wall. Our first stop was Restaurante La Bruja (Hotel Las Leyendas) which is just outside the wall. The place comes with a spectacular view of the surrounding area, plus a view of the wall to the city. As with all Spanish meals it seems, lunch was served with a bottle of red wine (Portia Ebeia Roble 2013). Among the various items we ate was Iberian ham, which is the highest quality ham of the region and of course beef also from the region.
Calle Francisco Gallego, 3, 05002 Ávila
Phone: +32 920 35 20 42
There are many little narrow streets for you to explore in the city be sure and wander down a few them and marvel at your discoveries. Inside the walls, we had dinner at a Parador; these are all over the country and are state sanctioned. The Parador dates back to the 16th Century and is actually within the Piedras Albas Palace. The Parador is also a hotel which has a beautiful garden from which you can watch the sunset. It is very therapeutic to watch the sun shine through the entrance of the walled city on the cobbled street below.
Calle Marqués de Canales y Chozas, 2,05001 Ávila
Phone:+34 920 21 13 40
All in all, Avila has a lot to offer, especially this year as the life and death of SantaTeresa is being celebrated.
Have you been to this region?
What are your thoughts?
Disclosure: Our writer, Kerwin McKenzie went to Avila on behalf of PointsandTravel as the guest of the Tourist Office of Spain Los Angeles. However, the thoughts and expressions expressed here are all his own.
For another article written by Mr. Kerwin McKenzie on this this Spain trip, see: