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The Most Charming Walled City in Spain

The walls to the city at night

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.

Walled City of Avila

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.

Some of the original documents on display during the exhibition

Some of the original documents on display during the exhibition in Avila

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.

A view of the city surrounding the walled portion of Avila, Spain

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.

Cathedral de San Salvador Photo courtesy of 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.

Palacio Hotel Dining Room

Here are the hotel details if you decide to stay there:

Hotel Palacio de Los Velada

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.

Iberian ham at Restaurante La Bruja (Hotel Las Leyendas) Avila, Spain

Restaurante La Bruja (Hotel Las Leyendas)

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 sunshine through the entrance of the walled city on the cobbled street below.

Parador de Avila

PARADOR DE TURISMO DE ÁVILA

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?

Written By Guest Travel Writer: Kerwin McKenzie

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 Spain trip, see:

Salamanca, Spain and its Small Luxury Hotel: Hacienda Zortia

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