Photos courtesy of Parador de Ávila
Double rooms: 85–150 euros
Single rooms: 80% of double room rate
Rates include tax. Breakfast extra.
Open: all year
Ávila is 115 km northwest of Madrid on N-501. Trains leave from Madrid’s Atocha station and take about 2 hours. Buses make the same trip. The parador is on the north side of town along the wall. Look for signposts.
Nearby: walks along the city wall; visits to the cathedral, museums, and convent of St. Teresa
Few cities in the world attract visitors with their walls, but Ávila is one that does. It is encircled by a magnificent 11th-century wall that is reinforced with 88 semicircular towers, 2500 merlons, and 8 gateways. When the sun shines on the battlements and towers, the stones glow in golden tones. The parador adjoins this impressive wall.
The parador was rebuilt about 70 years ago using as much of the old stone, timbers, and pillars as possible. The main stairway is original.
Inside a small courtyard is surrounded by old columns and doorways leading to the public rooms, which are decorated in greens and yellows and in a style suggestive of the city’s medieval origins. Wood beams run throughout the palace.
Guest rooms in the square tower face the gardens and are part of the famous wall; they are decorated in shades of cream. Rooms are booked early for summer by residents of Madrid who come here to take advantage of Ávila’s cool climate.
The dining room looks onto a terraced garden and features Castilian dishes.
The walls of Ávila have been declared a Spanish National Monument.