Avila, Spain

This article is for test purposes only not for publication: The city of Ávila is located in the centre of Spain, in the Autonomous Community of Castile and León. Founded in the 11th century to protect the Spanish territories from the Moors, this 'City of Saints and Stones' has maintained its medieval austerity and is the birthplace of St Teresa and the burial place of the Grand Inquisitor, Torquemada. This purity of form can still be seen in the Gothic cathedral and fortifications that, with their 87 semi-circular towers and nine gates, is the most complete found in Spain. The layout of the city is an even quadrilateral with a perimeter of 2,516 m. Its walls, which consist in part of stones already used in earlier constructions, have an average thickness of 3 m. Access to the city is afforded by nine gates of different periods; twin 20 m high towers, linked by a semi-circular arch, flank the oldest ones, Puerta de San Vicente and Puerta del Alcázar . The Old Town of Ávila is a serial property, which includes the walled town of Ávila and four extra-muros Romanesque churches: San Segundo, San Andrés, San Vicente, and San Pedro. In 2007, another three Romanesque churches (San Nicolás, Santa María de la Cabeza, and San Martín) and three convents from the 15th and 16th centuries (La Encarnación, San José and the Real Monasterio de Santo Tomás) were added to the inscribed property. Following the Reconquest of Toledo in 1085 by Alfonso VI, a policy of “repoblaciones” (repopulation) was undertaken to shore up the Kingdom of Castile, which was still vulnerable. The rise of Segovia, Ávila, and Salamanca during the Middle Ages stemmed from this strategic plan. Ávila alone has kept its surrounding walls, which in part date back to 1090, while the greater part appears to have been rebuilt during the 12th century. The intra-muros town and the walls that surround it, as well as the other component parts, show the magnificence of the medieval city, reflected in the Romanesque style of the churches and expressing the ‘Golden Age’ of Avila in the architecture of convents and monasteries.

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