Murallas (Town Walls) of Ávila

City Walls in Ávila

The ancient walls, which still enclose the Ciudad Vieja (Old Town) of Ávila, are the best preserved in Spain. After the Christian Reconquest of Ávila, the ramparts became an important line of defence against the Moors. Raimundo de Borgoña, son-in-law of Alfonso VI, built the massive circuit of protective walls between 1090 and 1099. The site was registered as a National Monument in 1884.

Who built the walls of Avila?

Construction began on the walls of Avila were ordered to be built by Alfonso VI of León, in 1090. He commissioned his son-in-law Raimundo de Borgoña to repopulate the centre of the peninsula  and fortify the cities of Ávila, Segovia, and Salamanca.

How long did the walls of Avila take to build?

According to traditional historiography, the building of the walls of Avila lasted nine years, from 1090 to 1099. To be able to achieve this in such a short space of time, the walls were thought to have been an extension of existing Roman walls. The walls also incorporated existing buildings, or buildings that were also being built at the time. Two original towers of the primitive Roman wall, have been found embedded in the body of the current wall. The Gothic Cathedral of Avila was integrated into the walls between the 12th and 16th centuries, looking as much like a fortress as a church.

The walls have undergone several modifications throughout its history, with extensive changes in the 14th century.

When were the walls of Avila built?

Although work on the walls started in 1090 by Alfonso VI they took almost 600 years to build.

Why were the Avila walls built?

The ancient walls of Avila were built partly as a defensive mechanism but the wall also served as a way to control the entrance of both people and goods into the city and guard against outbreaks of the plague.

How long is the wall of Avila?

With a rectangular shape following the circumference of the town, the Avila city walls are around 2.5 km long, with 82 towers and nine gates. At present tourists can walk along approximately half of their length, in two separate sections. The imposing stone wall stands at an average height of 12 meters, along with crenelated towers and round turrets positioned every 20 meters for guards to watch for coming invaders. The walls around Avila are the second biggest wall in the world after the Great Wall of China.

The Gates into Avila

Nine entrance gates provided access to the city.

  1. Puerta del Alcázar , or Mercado Grande, was the first to be built together with the Puerta del San Vicente, they are the most robust and protected since it was the area that had the least natural protection.
  2. Puerta del Peso de la Harina, also known as Los Leales or Los Obispos. It was opened in the 16th century.
  3. Puerta de San Vicente, built at the same time as the Puerta del Alcázar, has the same defence mechanisms that were updated as they were invented. It had a double door, a metal portcullis, an arch over the two towers to throw objects and boiling water, and another hole inside for the same purpose. It is one of the most impressive of the city gates.
  4. Puerta del Mariscal, or Fuente el Sol, is possibly the only door that has not been modified.
    Puerta del Carmen, or the Jail, is protected by two square cubes, it was built in the 14th century to facilitate the entry and exit of cars.
  5. Puerta de San Segundo, or the Bridge, was reformed in the 15th and 17th centuries.
  6. Puerta de la Malaventura, or of the gypsies, also known as the arch of San Isidro, was the gate used for the expulsion of the Jews from the city.
  7. Puerta de La Santa, gives access to the birthplace of Santa Teresa, dates from the 16th century and has the same structure as the Arco del Carmen.
  8. Puerta del Rastro, also with the names of Grajal, de la Estrella, Gil González Dávila or simply Dávila. It was rebuilt in the 16th century, when the viewpoint that can be seen today was built and is related to the Castle of Althoughospese according to a legend.
  9. La Puerta de la Catedral, of the Loyalists or of the Weight of the Flour , opened in the 16th century .

How to access the walls of Avila?

To walk along the walls requires tickets. Visitors can begin a self-guided walking tour of the wall by taking the steps leading up to the walking path from the The house of Las Carnicerías, the Gate of El Alcázar, the Gate of El Carmen and the gate of El Puente. While some of the walls will never be walkable because of their integration into other structures, such as the Cathedral, another large stretch in the South west has yet to be made safe for pedestrians and is currently grass covered.

What materials were used to build the walls of Avila

The wall is made up of masonry of different sizes and colors, depending on the quarry used. Brick, mortar, and lime were also used. Within its walls you can see remains of the ancient Roman aqueduct, cists, cupas, funerary steles, burial mounds, altars, boars, millstones, etc. the majority of Roman origin and vettón.

 

 

Visiting Murallas (Town Walls) of Ávila

Hours:

Winter time

From October 25 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Open Monday, November 2.

Closed Tuesday, November 3.

Open Monday, November 9.


Summer schedule

From July 1 to October 25 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Open Monday 5 and 12 October


Access is restricted 45 minutes before they close.


Price:

General: 5 € Reduced: 3,5 €

Address: Casa de las Carnicerías C. de San Segundo, 17 05001 Ávila Spain
Duration: 2 hours