Avila is in the Castile and Leon region of Spain. At over 1000m above sea-level it is the highest provincial capital in Spain.
Avila is famous for its medieval walls. They are arguably the best in Europe. The 11th century walls are two kilometres long, have 88 turrets and are perfectly preserved.
The town is also famous as the home of Saint Teresa.
The main sight of Avila is of course its immense medieval walls. To get the best view go to Los Cuatro Postes (the four posts) on the Salamanca road. The walls were built in 1090 when Alfonso VI captured the city from the Moors. The Moors were then used as forced labour to build them which took 9 years.
The walls are beautifully illuminated at night, indeed the walls of Avila are the largest fully illuminated monument in the world! You can walk along the walls and get some great views of the city. There are nine gateways through the walls, the most impressive are St Vincent's gate and the Alcazar gate.
Avila is said to be the most 16th century town in Spain and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Cathedral of Avila is built into the city walls. It was never finished and has a tower missing. The oldest parts of the cathedral served both as fortress and church. Inside are Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance details.
The Monastery of Saint Thomas is a little distance from the centre but is one of the most attractive sights in Avila. It has three cloisters .
The Basilica de San Vincente is another attractive church in Avila. It is built on the site where St Vincent was tortured and executed. Legend has it that a rich Jew who was mocking St Vincent after his death was almost suffocated to death by a serpent. He repented, converted to Christianity and built the church on the same site.
Also of huge importance in the town are the buildings relating to Santa Teresa who was born in Avila. There is a convent and a monastery dedicated to Saint Teresa.
The Convento de Santa Teresa is built on the site of her birth. The Convento de San José is the first monastery Teresa founded and contains various memorabila related to her.
She lived in the Monasterio de la Encarnacion for 20 years and each room is named after her different deeds. The monastery contains various memorabilia to do with her life.
Museums in Avila
There is a small provincial museum, the Museo Provincal, which is housed in the 16th century Palacio de los Deanes.
Places to visit near Avila
Los Cuatro Postes (the four posts). This is the spot where Saint Theresa was caught by her uncle when she tried to run away. A small monument with four columns is dedicated to her and the views from here - particularly over the walls of Avila- are very good.
The Sierre de Gredos, a beautiful mountain range, is close to Avila.
The magnificent monastery-palace complex of El Escorial should not be missed if you are in the area.
Segovia has an incredible Roman aquaduct, an alcazar and a large Gothic cathedral - another city not to be missed.
Map of Avila and places to visit
Avila places to visit
See more places nearby in the Castile and Leon guide