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Avila Mini Guide
Avila is a historic city located near Salamanca
in Spain which is surrounded by ancient protective walls that were built in the 11th and 12th century. With beautiful sights to see and plenty of things to do, the city has attracted many tourists over the years who mainly go to see monuments which have been well preserved. This is thanks in part to the fact that Avila has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The highest provincial capital in Spain, Avila is 3665 feet above sea level and its geographical position means it provides some relief from the heat of Spain with long cold winters and short summers. It is a place of distinction where Spanish royalty lived and more recently the Spanish philosopher George Santayana.
There are many sights of architectural interest, with buildings in a variety of different styles such as the Gothic monastery of Santo Tomas and the Romanesque churches of San Vincente, San Pedro and San Segundo.
Meat lovers will find the food in Avila mouth-watering as veal steak, roast lamb and suckling pig are all specialties. The veal is the city’s speciality dish and is said to come from one of the best breeds of cow in Europe. So too are the Judias beans which are said to be the best for flavouring chorizo stews, and the chorizo and potato stew is another must-try. Many excellent restaurants throughout the city will offer the chance to sample these dishes but if you prefer to snack there are plenty of good tapas bars as well. If you love tapas you'll be interested to learn that in June the city hosts a tapas competition where the judges decide on the best tapas offered by the bars and restaurants and everyone is invited to give their view!
For those with a sweet tooth there are egg yolk candies named after the patron saint Santa Theresa. Saint Theresa was a Catholic nun who lived in the town and became renowned for the letters which she wrote to Jesus to express her devotion to him.
Avila is certainly well worth a visit for those who want to learn more about religious history as it is home to an impressive cathedral and many chapels and convents. The city is ideally located for people who have rented a car in Madrid to come and explore for a short break. On the outskirts of Avila as you arrive on the motorway from Madrid there is a modern shopping centre with every convenience, and in the city itself there are many statuettes and images dedicated to Saint Theresa which make good presents or souvenirs.
- In June each year the city lays on an event called 'Theatre on the Wall', a series of dramatic productions are laid on with the set being the imposing city walls.When you arrive, look out for details from your hotel or from the tourist offices in the city.
- Held every year since the 16th century, Avila's Easter celebrations are something not to be missed. This year they'll be held from the 24th to the 31st of March. Easter Tuesday sees the Miserere Procession during which the Miserere sung prayer is performed to absolute silence in the city - it's a spine-tingling experience.