Avila: the power of the city wall
Did you know that in the province of Ávila there is a secret island in the middle of a swamp crowned by a fortification? And that a route that aims to delve into the origins of our language passes through the city of Ávila? What if we told you that in the Amblés Valley you can walk through an abandoned monastery that looks like something out of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale? Sound familiar? It is the monastery of Nuestra Señora del Risco.
Ávila is an exciting province, where there is always something new to discover. Start with one of the secrets of the Sierra de Gredos, such as the imposing Mombeltrán, in the Tiétar valley. It will be difficult not to fall in love with a scene that could well have been the setting for Game of Thrones as you approach its medieval castle.
Without leaving the valley, head for Candeleda. Have you entered the most beautiful village in the province? Probably. You'll fall in love with the incredible House of Flowers, a building with a flower-filled façade and surely the most photographed sight of the trip. It's actually the curious Tin Toy Museum, a must-see if you're travelling with children.
And to continue the idyll, go to Arenas de San Pedro, where you will be welcomed by its Gothic castle, the Palacio del Infante. They say that strange noises are heard here and ethereal bodies appear in the middle of the night.
Less mysterious, but very appealing is the medieval bridge Aquelcabos, under which flows the river Arenal, whose course, a little further upstream, takes the form of a natural pool for summer bathing.
One last village before we head for the city: Piedralaves, through which many illustrious figures such as Juan Ramón Jiménez, Camilo José Cela and Pío Baroja passed, and with which they fell in love.
Looking for a romantic moment? In this village you can surrender yourself to the Cross of Lovers. Also, stroll through the natural gorge of Nuño Cojo and take the best photo of the municipality from the bridge. An unforgettable short break.
But, hey, you've got one more Stendhal moment left. Possibly the most powerful: welcome to Avila, the walled queen.
Where do you start? You can visit the cathedral, some of its beautiful churches, such as San Pedro (a Romanesque treasure); or book a guided tour of the city's Jewish quarter at the Town Hall. Of course, climb up to the wall as the views from here are out of this world. The little ones will love it!
Of course, the best view of Ávila is from the viewpoint at the entrance to the city or a few metres below, from Los Cuatro Postes.
It is precisely here that the warrior's rest is guaranteed: Sercotel Cuatro Postes, the hotel you need to recharge your batteries and get a boost, because there's even more to Ávila...
Ingredients and dishes to devour Avila
Ávila tastes like a chop of black Avila beef. A good product, good embers and a few flakes of salt... Can you ask for more? In the mouth, the flavours of Avila show that touch of the sautéed garlic of the Castilian soup, so strong and perfect for winter; and of the paprika of "revolconas" potatoes. We are talking about mashed potatoes, topped with a good touch of paprika and torreznos pork belly strips. A wonder.
And on the sweet side? One of the most Avila-style experiences you can have is to try the yemas de Santa Teresa, made with egg yolks, syrup, lemon and cinnamon. Fall for their intense flavour and choose them as the perfect souvenir. They are.