Avila is an hour and forty minute train ride from the Chamartin train station in Madrid. Upon arrival to Avila, it is about a 20-minute walk through the newer part of town to the walled city.
The wall around the old city was built in 1100 on top of ancient ruins of the previous wall. Today, it is the oldest wall that is the best preserved and most complete in all of Spain. It truly is impressive. For a small fee, you can walk about 3/4 of the way around it. Avila changed hands several times between the Christians and Muslims over a 300 year period.
For an amazing view of this ancient walled city, there is the Cuarto Postes (Four Post) viewing area.
You can take a bus, go by car or you can walk, like David and I did. It gave us an opportunity to walk through the wall enclosed village of Avila and once we passed through the gate, it was another 15-minute walk to the Four Posts viewing area. The viewing area stands on a hill opposite the city. It makes for a wonderful “Kodak moment” to capture this well-preserved wall.
I enjoyed our time in Avila. We only spent a few hours and most of that time, it was during the lunch period when most everything was shut down for siesta. I don’t know if it was the time of year that we visited Avila or if Avila isn’t a “hot tourist destination” but we felt like we had the whole town to ourselves, as you will see in my pictures. A couple of times, while walking around, we heard music from the groups Guns and Roses and U2 that didn’t quite go with the ancient surroundings!
St Teresa (1515-1582) was born in Avila. She was a nun who had strong spiritual experiences that sometimes brought her to be in perfect union with God. St Teresa was a member of the Carmelite nuns but found it to lax so she founded the Discalced (Shoeless) Carmelites. It was a very strict convent. She faced great opposition from her former convent and from people who said her visions were the work of the devil. Nevertheless, she prevailed and 40 years after her death, she was canonized by Pope Gregory XV.
In Avila, the Convent of St Teresa is built on the spot where she was born. Not far from the convent, is the Mysticism Interpretation Center that explores modern mysticism today.
Visiting this historical town was a nice break from the busy city of Madrid. I am glad that we took the day to explore it.