Instead of our usual march due North, we made bit of a diversion East towards the town of Ávila. It is a relatively small town made famous for its medieval walls that completely encompass a large portion of the town.
The have a total length of the walls is roughly 2.5km, roughly half of which has been made walkable. Many of the towers are also accessible for great views over the inner town and surrounding countryside.
It costs €5 to access the wall, but this does include an audio guide that gave us some history to digest. Not surprisingly, Health and Safety rules in medieval times weren’t quite as stringent as today. The lower sections of the ramparts were often only knee high above the walkway and a railing has been added to the inside edge. As the wall averages 12m tall, and Joolz isn’t great with heights, she wasn’t keen on some sections!
The best historical story from the audio guide was when the town had been abandoned by Christian troops and they were about to be invaded by the Moors. It was mostly women and children were left in the town. So the governor’s wife got all the women to take their metal cooking utensils, dressed them as men and got them to hide behind the ramparts on the evening the attack was due. When the signal was given, all the women produced torches and rattled their cooking utensils. The apposing army thought there was a hidden garrison of soldiers drawing their swords and fled.
Major family houses held the prime locations on the outside edges of the wall, but it was their responsibility to defend that section. The biggest and most prestigious section of the wall was owned by the church. A large cathedral was built and integrated into the wall. This meant the cathedral had many military components, including multiple levels of walkway ramparts to improve its defensive capability.
We’ve been on a few trips around Europe, and some of the provinces we have visited are very proud of their storks. Spain has them in spades. It’s great to see them in such abundance here. They are majestic and beautiful, although their call does sound like a road construction.
Next stop to to backtrack West along the foot of the mountains to Sergovia to see another engineering marvel…