The province of Ávila is very accessible thanks to the A-6 and the proximity of the A-5. A region that has great natural landmarks such as Sierra de Gredos. It is an area of transit towards Extremadura, and also has segments where the Castilian fields can be seen. With a delicious cuisine and many places where you can flee from the noise of the city, it is a very interesting territory. Reasons more than enough to pay attention to this review of the most beautiful villages in Ávila.
The place where the most famous Duke of Alba, Fernando Álvarez de Toledo y Pimentel, was born is also a charming town. The relationship with this saga, whose title originated in Alba de Tormes, in Salamanca, was key to the development of the place. This is demonstrated by the mid-18th century palace that this family ordered to be built. However, it was in the 19th century when it shone most brightly thanks to the presence of such notable figures as Francisco de Goya. The 13th Duchess of Alba was responsible for this by spending long periods in this French Baroque style building.
Also of great beauty is the main church of Piedrahita, dedicated to the Assumption. The convents of Las Carmelitas and Santo Domingo, the latter in ruins, or the beautiful Plaza de España contribute to the beauty of the whole. One should not overlook the house where the poet Juan María Gabriel y Galán, who worked in the village as a teacher, lived. Meanwhile, the surroundings of Sierra de Villafranca provide a backdrop to the village.
Very close to Sierra de Guadarrama and the Community of Madrid, Navas del Marqués has a very rich heritage. The castle of Magalia is one of its most characteristic elements. In the Renaissance style, it was built in the 16th century. Its enormous tower is combined with other more palatial parts, such as its courtyards. From the same period is the convent of Santo Domingo and San Pablo. Its contained forms, of the Herrerian style, are worth at least a glance.
Among several churches and hermitages, one building stands out for its modern style: the Eiffel watchtower. Despite this designation, it is not by the famous French architect. It does follow the style based on the iron that made him famous. It serves as a viewpoint of the forest and was erected in the last third of the 19th century. Finally, given its proximity to Madrid, it is possible to go and see some of its mountain villages, as well as the beautiful monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial.
This beautiful village in Ávila is located in the foothills of Sierra de Gredos, in the Tiétar valley. A green curtain surrounds both the village and the surrounding mountains. This creates spectacular views and panoramic views of the town. The castle of Mombeltrán, promoted by the Dukes of Alburquerque in the 15th century, stands out. On the outside it looks impressive and very well preserved, which contrasts with the interior.
Beyond the medieval fortress and the mountain areas, the San Andrés hospital is worth mentioning. This was a reference point for pilgrims who came to venerate the Virgin of Guadalupe. The cathedral of Ávila was responsible for paying for it and today it appears much improved.
Of the many illustrious characters born in the province of Ávila, none was more important than Isabella the Catholic. The transcendental monarch was born in Madrigal de las Altas Torres. She did so in what was once the palace of John II, later the monastery of Nuestra Señora de Gracia. Its Mudejar style is very common in the village and in the nearby villages of Segovia and Valladolid. Other examples in the village would be the church of San Nicolás de Bari or the remains of the old wall. Thanks to this, it has a remarkable medieval atmosphere.
Equally medieval is the village of Candeleda. It is a large communication knot on the side of Sierra de Gredos. This has given it a great connection with many villages located in its surroundings, such as Jarandilla de la Vera in Cáceres or Talavera de la Reina in Toledo. Be that as it may, this beautiful village in Ávila is worth it in itself.
Inhabited since before the arrival of the Romans, the castro del Raso stands out in this respect. Its origin is linked to the ancient village of the Vetons. In the municipality there are many remains from its long past. For example a Roman bridge, another medieval one, Visigoth and Arab vestiges, a pillory from the Middle Ages… Together with its popular architecture, they form a charming complex.
Close to the province of Segovia and close to the A-6, Arévalo has a lot to be proud of. First of all, its tostón. Such is the name given to the famous roast suckling pig in the village, which here is called “tostón”. The tradition of the oven also extends to other specialities such as lamb or kid. All of them are great options, the best of the local cuisine. Secondly, the noble character of the village means that it has one of the most impressive monuments in the province of Ávila.
With its medieval castle and wall at the head, a myriad of temples fill the town. The Mudejar style is once again the main feature, alongside the Romanesque style, both in the main centre and in the districts. On the other hand, the connection between Arévalo and two Spanish queens should be highlighted. Isabella the Catholic spent her childhood there, in a palace which no longer exists. There she accompanied her mother, Isabella of Portugal. The wife of John II lived her last years in retirement due to the outbreaks of madness she suffered. Finally, she would die in the town of which she was a lady during 1496.
The head of the Tiétar valley is a great access to both this region and the Sierra de Gredos. In the 18th century, it caught the attention of the Infante Don Luis de Borbón. He built a neoclassical palace there in La Mosquera, when he had to leave Madrid due to his marriage. Ventura Rodríguez was the supervisor of the works. The result is a symmetrical and harmonious space in which important figures of the culture of the time met. One of the best known was Goya. The one in Fuendetodos, Zaragoza, received the support of Charles III’s brother to develop his career.
This exclusive atmosphere of Arenas de San Pedro extends to the Royal Chapel of San Pedro de Alcántara, also designed by Ventura Rodríguez. However, it contrasts with the popular character transmitted by its houses with wooden crossbeams. Meanwhile, the castle provides a more regal and serious face. It dates from the 14th century and is located in the lower part of the village. Its nickname, “de la triste condesa” (from the sad countess), comes from the time of Álvaro de Luna. His wife, Juana Pimentel, was the daughter of the Count of Benavente and lived there. The death of her powerful husband gave rise to the nickname. Besides, in the Ramacastañas district there are the interesting caves of El Águila.
Besides being one of the most beautiful villages in Ávila, El Barco shelters the passage to the beautiful Garganta de los Infiernos and the Jerte Valley. Thus, Charles V passed it on his way to the monastery of Yuste. Therefore a great place to go for a break in spring and autumn. Located on the western side of Sierra de Gredos, this village has its origins in the time of the castros. However, it was the Arabs who made it gain importance. As in the nearby Béjar and Hervás, the Jews were an essential part of its population until the expulsion that took place in the same year of the capture of Granada, 1492.
Like other members of this list, it has an impressive medieval castle, in this case called de Valdecorneja. It overlooks the river Tormes and has been recovered thanks to the reforms of its owners, the Dukes of Alba. It is from the 12th century, like the local walls. Its military court is obvious and served to defend the connection between Castile and the Vía de la Plata. The Romanesque bridge, heir to another Roman, was vital for this connection. Its typical centre and beautiful temples are complemented by a cuisine in which the “Judías del Barco” beans, of great quality like the “Judiones de la Granja”, stand out.
In the southeast corner of the province, El Tiemblo has a very varied combination of interesting elements to see. For example, there are suggestive ruins to visit. What remains of the Hieronymites’ monastery and the famous Guisando bulls make for a joint visit that covers all the historical periods of the village. The condition of the monastery derives from the last great fire it suffered, at the end of the 20th century. For its part, the group of bovine sculptures are more than 2,300 years old and are an extraordinary example of pre-Roman art.
At the same time, the tandem of Iruelas valley and Burguillo reservoir give rise to a lot of hiking routes in Ávila. In them you can enjoy a beautiful natural environment in which the famous chestnut grove and the colonies of black vultures stand out. To see these animals flying is a great spectacle. The popular atmosphere of the village, including the temple and civil structures, is also very remarkable.
It is time to return to the Tiétar valley area to discover this beautiful village in Ávila. It also has in its castle its most recognizable and outstanding monument. situated high above the rest of the village, it has a visitor’s centre overlooking the valley in which it is located. It was built in the late medieval period, on top of a Gothic church. The defensive complex is still defiant and powerful. On the other hand, both the wooded surroundings of La Adrada and its church justify its inclusion in this list.
Mombeltrán and its ancient villages in Ávila make up the region of El Barranco, in the eastern section of Gredos. One of these nuclei, which ended up being a municipality, is Cuevas del Valle. Its centre is a charming example of popular architecture. It includes arcades, typical houses and a chaotic distribution resulting from its antiquity. In the shade of high mountains such as Pico and Torozo, in a valley, chestnut trees predominate in the surroundings. Several marked paths run along the undulations, which in several cases deepen the livestock soul of the area. They also run along part of the Roman road that crossed the Covachero territory.
The river Alberche waters the last member of this review of the most beautiful villages in Ávila. Adjacent to interesting villages such as El Barraco or the aforementioned La Adrada, it is a good centre for exploring this segment of the province. Its lagoons and the bridge that crosses its main waterway, with several centuries of existence, are the most notable elements of the place. In its surroundings, the meadows and farmland are mixed with forests of various types of trees. It is also a good area to try the province’s specialities, such as roasts.
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