Tuesday, May 31, 2016, 7:44pm
Introduction to CENTRAL SPAIN
Date travelled: 1st September to 10tht September 2005
Tour Operator: SAGA
We arrived in Madrid on the 1st september 2005 after a short flight from the UK. The weather on arrival was beautiful and remained that way for the whole tour. At the airport we boarded a coach that was to take us to Avila in Central Spain.
Avila is the highest provincial capital in Spain at a height of 1131 metres above sea level and is one of the finest examples in Europe of a of a medieval walled city. The walls are mainly 11th century and stand 10 metres high and enclose an area measuring 900 x450 metres. The eastern apse of the cathedral is built into the city walls as a defence bastion.
Avila has several old churches and convents and was the birthplace of St Teresa of Avila, a Carmelite nun who became one of the greatest mystics of the Catholic church and was canonized in 1622. The convent of Santa Teresa was built in the 17th century on the plot where Santa Teresa de Jesus was born. Inside the city walls are many medieval mansions and the Romanesque and early Gothic cathedral. It was completed in the 16th century as the first cathedral in Spain with Gothic design.
The following day we took a coach to Segovia famous for its magnificent Alcázar or castle and superbly preserved Roman aqueduct. The old city is spectacularly situated atop a long, narrow promontory. It contains a wealth of monuments, including the cathedral, a famous ancient Roman aqueduct, the Alcázar, and various churches built in the Romanesque style including San Esteban, San Martin, and San Millan. The old city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Romans built the aqueduct out of large blocks of stone and did not use any mortar to hold them together and this one still stands relatively straight after 2000 years.
The Alcázar, or castle-palace, is perched at the tip of the promontory and towering over the countryside below. Its fairy-tale spires and facade influenced stongly Walt Disney's design of the castle in Sleeping Beauty. It was built in the 12th century. A fire in 1862 destroyed part of the roofs (and only part of the roofs), but they were restored, in the very same style they were built more than 300 years ago.
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