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Ávila

When my sister and I were ready to move on from Toledo, we headed to Ávila. Ávila is a little farther from Madrid than Toledo, but is northwest of Spain’s capital, whereas Toledo is to the south.

Like Toledo, Ávila has an impressive cathedral and monastery, not to mention a basilica — all of which I’ve posted about in the past. But what stood out upon our arrival were the massive, stone walls, with their eight gates and 88 towers.

These walls form an irregular rectangle around the medieval centre of Ávila.

Parts of the wall have been restored so you can walk on it.

We found ourselves staying in a small hotel just inside those walls, next to the cathedral. To the best of my memory, it was just around the corner in this next photo.

Although we didn’t know it then, my sister would find herself back in Avila some years later to do historical research. Naturally I came back to visit her. This was the street where she lived for a year.

Keep walking, and you came to this gate.

Walk through the gate, and this is your view.

Not too shabby, eh?

I soon learned that in Ávila you can’t avoid the sixteenth-century mystic and saint, Teresa of Ávila.

Born into nobility, Teresa joined the Carmelites at age 20. She sought a more reclusive life than was available with the Carmelites, however, so she established a reformed order of Carmelites. They made their home here, in the Convent of San José, which Teresa founded in 1562.

It was in Ávila where I first noticed the storks that are ubiquitous throughout Spain — this church steeple has four nests in all. And so I will leave you with this pro tip: when in Ávila, always look up.