Ávila monumental y románica

Much of the history of Avila and its people can be understood through its walls. A witness of the passing of time, the two and a half kilometre perimetre, 88 towers and nine gates are the best example of Romanesque military architecture in Spain. This wall served as a military defence, sanitary belt to prevent the spread of disease and fiscal border, as anyone who wanted to come into the town to sell their products had to pay taxes. The Saint Vicente gate is one of nine leading into the city, the walls of which are an example of the re-use of materials. Thus, travellers could see sculptured stone blocks which, according to historians, might have belonged to the old Roman wall. Just a few steps away, the Saint Vicente Basilica greets us. It was built on the site where tradition says Vicente, Sabina and Cristeta were martyred. It is without doubt the great model of Avilan Romanesque. The interior proves surprising with its decorated capitals in the grand chapel and the tomb that tells the story of the saints in pictures, for some it was the beginning of what later was known as comics. The rose of truth is an unusual object, where those who were about to be condemned introduced their fingers. If they lied, swearing their innocence, legend has it that their arm became paralyzed. Continuing with our tour, before arriving at the Cathedral, we stop at one of the least known buildings in the city, the Episcopio, the ancient meeting place of the bishops and the residence of bishops and kings. It is the oldest Romanesque building in the city. Slowly, we arrive at the cathedral dedicated to Saint Salvador. It was started during Romanesque time but erected in Gothic style, perhaps, according to some historians, the first gothic example seen in Castilla. It is the clearest example of a cathedral fortress. It is worth stopping at the extraordinarily beautiful retrochoir from the sixteenth century. Here we must see one of the finest Berruguete oil paintings on a wooden surface. At the same retrochoir, known since the eighteenth century as the three wise men chapel, we see an unusual image of King Balthazar, sculptured in black stone. All this in a place which is surrounded by a reddish hue that definitely gives a special appearance. It is due to the use in its construction of the ferrous sandstone also known as bleeding sandstone, named after its reddish tone, and which undoubtedly transports the traveller to a special atmosphere which is difficult to find anywhere else.