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One of the great things of living in Spain is you can hop from province to province and take in a World Heritage sites just about everywhere you go.  If you´ve never been to Avila, it is impressive.  Like any UNESCO World Heritage site, it always leaves you amazed.  The 2.5 km (1.5 miles) of wall around the old quarter can only be described as magnificent (OK there are other descriptors but that´s the one I´m gong with).

We showed up in Avila in the evening as the sun was setting and a storm was trying to roll in.  The walls of the city greeted us with in your face, try to get in here 12th century massiveness.

The ancient walled city of Avila

Unlike ancient marauders, we did manage to get in, as we were staying at the Parador inside the walls.  The Parador was great, located in a 16th century palace.   FYI, Paradors are the Spanish government owned hotel chain that are always located in a historic building or a spectacular location.  This one has both.  Not to worry either, government owned does not mean crappy in this case.  Paradors are known for their quality in general and always a good choice in Spain. I use them for my client accomodations often.

We quickly dropped our bags strolled around inside and then the outside of the city walls to see it from the exterior and to get some wine, drinking some lesser known Riberas (gotta stick with Castillan wine when in Castilla).  All the places we went had great tapas and wonderful views of the walls from just outside the front door.

Northern Spain

Cathedral rounded wall section and exterior bars/cafes

We strolled from bar to bar on a little tapas and vino hop.  Found these curious chocolate Holy Week processioners, had to take a pic.

Northern Spain

Chocolate Holy Week Procession

Holy week is big in Avila with lots of religious processions where participants wear robes and hoods in all different colors, it predates any of those idiot bigots that run around in these in the Southern US, so don´t be alarmed.  Unfortunately, we were a few days early (no worries we got our dose in Caceres the next night).  After a few glasses of wine and tapas we decided to stroll around the walls a bit, or should I say a lot, it was so impressive, we made it all the way around the city stopping to take it all in along the way

Northern Spain

Santa Teresa de Avila, the Spanish saint and mystic

Northern Spain

Cherry blossoms, a great treat on a cool Spring night in Avila

Northern Spain

One of the stations of the cross that will be used in Avila´s Passion of Christ procession during Holy Week

Northern Spain

One of the many storks in town building a nest high atop the buildings, getting ready for their chicks to arrive, this one did a little dancing for us

Northern Spain

The walls and crags they sit on

If you are ever in Spain and want to visit a cool historic city, check out Avila and its walls.  Its not too far from Madrid, about 100km.  Make sure to stay the night, the whole thing is magnificent lit up in the dark. Unfortunately we arrived too late to see any of the interior of historic buildings and what seemed like interesting museums.  I guess we´ll have to go back!

The variety in Spain never gets old, each region a bit different and each one with its wonderful merits: be it the castles and walled cites of Castilla y Leon, the intricate Moorish influences in Andalucia, the fascinating Modernista architecture of Barcelona or the lesser known Northern Spain with its great mountains, coast, food, history and unique culture. Then again, I´m a bit partial to the North, it´s home for a reason (or two or three or…) 😉