There isn’t a tower to climb in Avila, so I made up for the lack by climbing 30 turrets.
I had intended to have a bit of a lazy with a slow start including a call to Jennifer being followed by the train trip to Avila. In Avila I found my hotel (which is pleasingly in a palace, right in the centre of town, and has a view of the Cathedral) and decided all that doing nothing required lunch. Lunch was duly found in a sunny spot on the market square. The day started out at 5 degrees and only reach mid-teens by the time I sat down to lunch at 2pm, but as long as you were out of the wind it was very pleasant.
After lunch I visited the Cathedral. I was in two minds about giving the Catholic church more money to go into one of their places of worship, but I was glad I decided to go ahead. Avila Cathedral is a stunner. The thing that makes it stand out is that the early Romanesque parts of it were built with mottled red ‘blood’ limestone and the colour lends the place an atmosphere and richness that so many other churches lack.
Now, the Cathedral does have a tower but I had missed the sole tour for the day. So it was to the walls. They built Avila’s defensive walls between the 11th and 14th Centuries. They run for a bit over 2km and surround the old town with its churches and palaces. And they are huge intact medieval walls with gates, bastions, murder-holes and all the other bits you’d expect.
I set myself the task of walking the walls and climbing all of the turrets. The walk along the battlements is very pretty – both for the view of the walls themselves and for the vistas of the rest of the town. I have to admit, though, after the 20th turret I was climbing them out of sheer stubbornness rather than any expectation that the addition four metres would add the view.
After a bit of a break to recover, I set out to walk to the four posts outlook about half an hour out of the town. The outlook has religious significance but most people go there because it provides an outstanding view of the walls. I sat and ate an apple as the sun moved down behind me. These long days are great for sightseeing, but useless for darkness and lights on monuments, so I had to be satisfied with a bit of a glow on the walls.
Asking back reminded me again that I continually fail to internalize that people deliberately build castles on hills so that other people walking towards them will get tired. I got tired. It was time for a beer. This being a civilized country a beer comes with food, and as I’d researched the place with the best tapas it came with some very nice food.