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Avila, Spain

April 4th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 
 

Ávila de los Caballeros (Latin: Abila and Óbila) is a town in the south of Old Castile, the capital of the province of the same name, now part of the autonomous community of Castile and León, Spain.

The city is 1,117 meters above sea level, the highest capital in Spain. It is built on the flat summit of a rocky hill, which rises abruptly in the midst of a veritable wilderness; a brown, arid, treeless table-land, strewn with immense grey boulders, and shut in by lofty mountains. This means an extreme climate, with very hard and long winters, and short summers.

The ancient city walls of Avila, constructed of brown granite, and surmounted by a breastwork, with eighty-eight towers and nine gateways, are still in excellent repair; but a large part of the city lies beyond their circuit. Avila is the seat of a bishop, and contains several ecclesiastical buildings of high interest. The Gothic cathedral, said by tradition to date from 1107, but probably of 13th or 14th century workmanship, has the appearance of a fortress, with embattled walls and two solid towers. It contains many interesting sculptures and paintings, besides one especially fine silver pyx, the work of Juan de Arphe, dating from 1571.

The churches of San Vicente, San Pedro, Santo Tomas and San Segundo are, in their main features, Romanesque of the 15th century, although parts of the beautiful San Vicente, and of San Pedro, may be as old as the 12th century. Especially noteworthy is the marble monument in Santo Tomas, carved by the 15th-century Florentine sculptor Domenico Fancelli, over the tomb of Prince John, the only son of Ferdinand and Isabella.

The town is renowned for Teresa of Avila, the Carmelite reformer who lived there. Another prominent native was Tomás Luis de Victoria. The convent and church of Santa Teresa mark the supposed birthplace of the saint whose name they bear (c. 1515-1582). Avila also possesses an old Moorish castle (alcazar) used as barracks, a foundling hospital, infirmary, military academy, and training schools for teachers of both sexes. From 1482 to 1807 it was also the seat of a university.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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