Avila Spain, which sits at an elevation of around 3,700 feet above sea level, is a relatively small city that is renowned for its Old World appeal. One of six UNESCO World Heritage Sites found in Spain, this highest provincial capital in the country features an old town district that is entirely enclosed by medieval walls. The ancient atmosphere is truly intoxicating, and while the walls are impressive, visitors will also enjoy the city's churches and palaces. Found just 68 miles northwest of Madrid, Avila can serve as an ideal day trip destination for those who are visiting the capital region, but should you wish to stick around and enjoy the atmosphere for a while, there are some good hotels around town to choose from.
Avila Spain main attractions include the walls that surround the city, a twelfth century cathedral, a Romanesque basilica, and a royal monastery. There's also the Santa Teresa Convent, which was where the saint herself was born in 1515. Santa Teresa, it is worth noting, is a major figure in the history of the Spanish Catholic Church. Among other things, she helped keep the Reformation at bay and played a key role in the founding of a number of Spanish convents. Her spirit is alive and well in this walled city near Madrid, and for those who visit the Santa Teresa Convent, there are some interesting relics in the small museum next door. These relics include a finger from her right hand.
All of the Avila Spain main attractions can be found within the walls of the old city or just outside the walls. Whereas Madrid's Almudena Cathedral is relatively young, Avila's main cathedral is quite old. Work on this attractive cathedral started in 1099, and the design is a mix between the Romanesque and Gothic styles. The Avila Cathedral is integrated into the wall system and was originally intended to serve as both a cathedral and a fortress. It is open to visitors throughout the year and features a museum that is worth checking out. After examining the main cathedral on your Avila Spain visit, you might wander over to the Basilica de San Vicente. Found just outside of the ancient city walls, this elegant basilica is quite the Romanesque masterpiece, and visitors can step inside for a look at the tomb of St. Vincent.
Rounding out the Avila Spain main attractions are the Royal Monastery of Santo Tomas and the well-preserved walls that enclose the old city. The monastery was commissioned by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella and was completed 1492. This is the same year that Columbus reached the New World on his famous voyage that was sponsored by the same royal monarchs. Also worth noting is the fact that Ferdinand and Isabella regularly attended mass at the Royal Monastery of Santo Tomas. The walls that surround Avila Spain were built in the eleventh century atop old Roman and Muslim battlements. Renovations and modifications were made over time, but the walls maintain their historic appeal and are considered to be among the best-preserved medieval walls in the world.
When a fun and rewarding Madrid day trip is what you have in mind, Avila is a destination worth keeping in mind. This walled city near Madrid is a true joy to explore, and there are at least a few good restaurants to choose from when you want to take a break from sightseeing. Should you wish to stay overnight instead of dropping into town for just a few hours, the Avila Spain hotels include one of the best hotels in the country. The Palacio de Los Velada is a luxury hotel par excellence and has managed to make quite a name for itself. Kings used to seek shelter at this historic establishment, and its location in the heart of town next to the cathedral is simply ideal.
Avila is a top destination to consider when looking for Madrid day trip options, especially when the summer heat in Madrid gets to be oppressive. The relatively high elevation of the city usually translates to more comfortable temperatures. When it comes to Madrid day trips, you might also keep El Escorial in mind, and the cities of Segovia and Toledo are not to be overlooked either. As is true of Avila, both Segovia and Toledo are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The remaining UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Spain are Santiago de Compostela, Salamanca, and Caceres, and they too merit a visit when a more complete tour of Spain is the goal.