Founded in the 11th century to protect the Spanish territories from the Moors, this 'City of Saints and Stones' has maintained its medieval austerity, and is the birthplace of St Teresa and burial place of the Grand Inquisitor, Torquemada. Ávila's old city, surrounded by imposing city walls comprising eight monumental gates, 88 watchtowers and more than 2500 turrets, is one of the best-preserved medieval bastions in Spain. Access to the city is afforded by nine gates of different periods . At night, when the walls are illuminated to magical effect, you'll wonder if you've stumbled into a fairy tale. Historic landmarks include the Gothic cathedral (c. 1091, completed 13th–15th century; the Convent of Santo Tomás (1482–93), containing the tombs of Tomás de Torquemada, who was the first grand inquisitor of Spain, and of Don Juan, the only son of Ferdinand and Isabella; the Romanesque basilica of San Vicente; and the Encarnación convent, built on the site of the house of the mystic St. Teresa, a native of Ávila.
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