Monday, April 15, 2013


Sights & Sites
Sima de los Huesos – Carretera Logroño 44 (Ibeas de Juarros, Burgos for Fundación Atapuerca); 011-34-94-725-7067;; Sima de los Huesos (means “bone pit”); more than 5.5K human bones dating back 350K years from about 28 skeletons of species Homo heidelbergensis.

AVILA (UNESCO World Heritage Site; includes Arevalo, El Barco de Ávila, Cardenosa, Guisando, Madrigal de las Altas Torres, Las Navas del Marqués & El Tiemblo)
Bars & Nightclubs
Las Cancelas – 6 Calle de la Cruz Vieja; 011-34-92-021-2249;; tapas.

Las Cancelas – 6 Calle de la Cruz Vieja; 011-34-92-021-2249;; 14 rooms available; simple, slightly ramshackle arrangements at moderate prices.
Parador Avila – 2 Marqués de Canales de Chozas; 011-34-92-021-1340;; gorgeous garden (with archaeological ruins); good restaurant; long walk to town (especially at night); largely rebuilt 16th Century medieval castle attached to massive town walls; guest rooms have terra-cotta tile floors, leather chairs, and 4-poster beds.
Palacio de los Velada – 10 Plaza de la Catedral; 011-34-92-025-5100;; beautifully restored, 16th Century palace; ideal spot if you like to relax between sightseeing; lovely interior patio; comfortable, elegantly decorated, modern rooms; major discounts for last-minute, midweek, or off-season stays.

Las Cancelas – 6 Calle de la Cruz Vieja; 011-34-92-021-2249;; locals flock here for tapas; can push through loud bar area to dining room; there, wooden tables heaped with combination platters of roast chicken, french fries, fried eggs, and chunks of home-baked bread; classic T-bone steak, chuletón de Ávila, is enormous; succulent cochinillo (roast piglet) bursts with flavor.
Restaurante El Molino de la Losa – 12 Calle Bajada de la Losa; 011-34-92-021-1101 or 011-34-92-021-1102;; sitting on Adaja River edge, boasts among best town wall views; 15th Century mill (working mechanism of which preserved, providing much distraction for those seated in animated bar; lamb roasted in medieval wood oven, and beans from nearby El Barco (judías de El Barco) are famous; garden has small playground for children.

Sights & Sites
Arévalo – off A-6 (at Avenida Emilio Romero);; La Moraña capitol (where Queen Isabella I of Castile raised); Spanish government has designated Historic-Artistic site due to its many Mudejar influences; castle worth special trip.
Avila Provincial Museum – 3 Plaza de Nalvillos (in Casa de los Deanes); 011-34-92-021-1003;; archaeology section includes artifacts and relics from Paleolithic through Middle Ages; fine arts collection features ceramics, Flemish paintings, and weaponry; annex at Church of Santo Tome Viejo.
El Barco de Ávila – N-110 (at AV-P 662); village worth special day trip; Valdecorneja Castle (12th Century, rebuilt in 14th Century), Church of Our Lady of Asuncion (14th Century), Casa del Reloj, Romanesque bridge, Hermitage of Santísimo Cristo del Caño, Hermitage of San Pedro de El Barco, and 12th Century walls.
Basílica de San Vicente – 4 Calle de San Vicente (Plaza de San Vicente, outside city walls, at northeast ramparts corner); 011-34-92-025-5230;; construction began in 12th Century and lasted until 14th; design attributed to French master Giral Fruchel; Cenotaph of Holy Brothers Martyrs (Cenotafio de los Santos Vicente, Sabina y Cristeta), 1 of Spain’s most important Romanesque sculptural works; Convent of Saint Joseph is 1st monastery of Discalced Carmelite nuns founded by Saint Teresa of Jesus; built in 1562, although most important architectural element, church, built in 1607.
Caprotti Museum – Calle Pintor Caprotti (Superunda Palace); dedicated to Guido Caprotti.
Castro de Cogotas – Cardenosa;,3; archaeological site named for 2 different archaeological cultures known from this site: Cogotas I (Late Bronze Age, pre-Celtic) & Cogotas II (most probably Iron Age Celtic).
Cathedral of Avila – 8 Plaza de la Catedral; 011-34-92-021-1641;; construction commenced in 1107 under Alvar Garcia de Estrella; transept finished in 1350 by Bishop Sancho de Ávila; Capilla Mayor features monumental altarpiece by Pedro Berruguete.
Convent & Museum de la Encarnación – Paseo De La Encarnacion (just outside medieval walls); 011-34-92-021-1212;; important pilgrimage stop; where St. Teresa lived, wrote, and had many mystical experiences; entered this Carmelite convent on November 2, 1535; lived there for 30 years, while reforming Carmelite order; left in 1562 to found her 1st monastery and returned in 1571 as prioress; left final time 1574; today, remains active convent but also houses public Museum; can visit monastic cell, tour other rooms associated with her, and see various items used or touched by her.
Convent & Museum of Santa Teresa – 2 Plaza de la Santa (2 blocks southwest of Plaza de la Victoria); 011-34-92-021-1030;; 17th Century baroque church and convent; St. Teresa’s birthplace; to convent’s right is tiny Sala de Reliquias, exhibiting some of her relics, including right-hand finger, sandal sole, and cord used to self-flagellate.
Ermita de San Segundo – Plaza de San Segundo; 011-34-92-035-3900;; 17th Century hermitage located west of town (outside city walls, on Adaja River’s right bank; well-preserved, alabaster St. Segundo statue by Juan de Juni.
Madrigal de las Altas Torres – Carretera Peñaranda (at Carretera Arevalo);; Queen Isabel I of Castille’s birthplace.
Museum of Oriental Art – 1 Plaza de Granada; 011-34-92-035-2237;; small but fascinating showcase for Asian art from China, Japan, Phillippines, and Vietnam; most collection is of items collected by Dominican missionaries; includes stunning ivory carvings and metalwork, as well as room devoted to exotic animals.
Las Navas del Marqués – or; summer home destination for Madrileños; surrounded by huge pine forests; municipality has oak grove called La Fuente del Sauco, where, in summer, can have lunch and dinner; sites include Magalia Castle-Palace (16th Century), San Juan Bautista Church, and San Pablo Convent.
Palacio de Don Diego del Águila – Calle López Núñez; 16th Century palace located inside wall and attached to it.
Palacio Valderrábanos – 9 Plaza de la Catedral; 011-34-92-021-1023;; built in 15th Century in Gothic style; currently, tourist resort.
Real Monasterio de Santo Tomás – 1 Plaza Granada; 011-34-92-035-2237;; Dominican convent dating to late 15th Century; despite being away from historic center, among city’s most important monuments; Gothic monastery once Inquisition headquarters for Avila; for 3 centuries, housed Torquemada’s tomb (1st general inquisitor, whose zeal in organizing Inquisition made him notorious); legend has it that after friars expelled from monastery in 1836, Torquemada-haters ransacked tomb and burned remains somewhere outside city walls, leaving his final burial site unknown; also includes Museum of Natural Sciences.
Sala de la Diputación – 1 Plaza de la Victoria or 1 Plaza Mercado Chico; 011-34-92-021-1300 or 011-34-92-035-4000;; town hall.
Sala del Episcopio – Calle Tomás Luis de Victoria (or on Plaza de la Catedral); 011-34-92-035-4000; former Episcopal Palace (today occupied by post office & public library).
Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Sonsoles – Carretera Vieja de Sonsoles km 4; 011-34-92-022-3367;; sanctuary in beautiful area, housing hostel, picnic areas, playgrounds, restaurant, etc.; statue of Virgin of Sonsoles, town’s co-patroness and patroness of fields in province; tradition to make pilgrimage to sanctuary, making wish to Virgin, arriving at door barefoot until enter church.
Sierra de Gredos Nature Reserve – Paraje el Risquillo (Guisando); 011-34-92-037-4162;; spectacular succession of cirques, crags, gorges, and lakes created by erosion during various ice ages; glacial origin; towered over by Almanzor Peak (highest point in Sistema Central range); home to Spanish ibex.
Torreón de los Guzmanes (Palacio de la Mújica) – 1 Plaza del Corral de las Campanas; 011-34-92-035-7129;; 15th Century; granite masonry façade, divided into 2 levels with no decoration; on 1 corner, large tower with square floor plan; crenellations and smaller watchtowers; entrance under semicircular arch, framed by alfiz; inside is well-preserved Mudejar coffered ceiling; King Alfonso XII stayed here; Provincial Council headquarters.
Toros de Guisando – off Carretera de Avila AV-502 (El Tiemblo);; giant (megalithic), Celtic stone sculptures of bulls; perhaps as old as 2K BCE.
Los Verdugo Palace – 6 Calle Lopez Núñez;; 011-34-92-021-1387; 16th Century palace commissioned by Don Suero del Águila; Plateresque portal flanked by 2 profusely ornamented pilasters; arcaded courtyard lined with segmental arches.
Walls of Avila – 4 Calle Lopez Nuñez; 011-34-92-035-4000;; city’s main monument; dates to 11th-14th Centuries; medieval work started in 1090; 31 hectares with 2.5K meter perimeter; largest fully illuminated monument in world; can walk upon walls for roughly half their circumference.

Casa Pancho – 13-15 Calle San Lorenzo; 011-34-947-203-405;; tapas.

Sights & Sites
Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Castilla y Leon – 24 Avenida de los Reyes Leoneses; 011-34-987-090-000;

Restaurante Casa Paca – 10 Plaza Peso; 011-34-923-218-993;; classic choice since 1928; meat-heavy menu; ancient dishes like alubias (white beans stewed with pig’s ears & tails) and cocido (meat stew of all trimmings from several animals); diners making night of it tend to ask for meats a la brasa volcánica, or cooked on wood-fired grill (suckling pig, thick beef steaks & racks of baby goat chops); atmospheric dining room with alternating wood-paneled & ancient stone walls; if overwhelmed by formality and opulence of main dining room, opt to eat & drink on bar side, where some of most generous tapas in central Spain provided “free” with drinks: tortilla Española, farinato sausage with scrambled eggs, pig’s ears in tomato sauce (orillas), pastry squares filled with goat cheese & quince jam, small casseroles of meatballs, cod-stuffed red peppers, potato salad.
Sights & Sites
Archivos General de la Guerra Civil Española – 2 Calle Gibraltar (in Colegio de San Ambrosio); 011-34-92-321-2845;
Biblioteca Publica (Casa de las Conchas) – 2 Calle Compañía; 011-34-923-269-317;; built 1493-1517 by Rodrigo Arias de Maldonado, knight of Order of Santiago de Compostela & professor; façade, mixing late Gothic & Plateresque style, decorated with more than 300 shells, symbol of order of Santiago, as well as of pilgrims performing Way of St. James.
Iglesia de San Martin – Plaza del Corrillo; 011-34-923-216-672;; Romanesque church wedged among houses; south portal worth studying for its depiction of St. Martin giving his cloak to pauper; inside, impressive choir stalls & churrigueresque retablo (altarpiece) created in 1731.
Pontifical University of Salamanca – 5 Calle Compañía; 011-34-923-277-100;; take walking tour; beautiful.

SEGOVIA (includes Pedraza)
Hotel Infanta Isabel – 12 Plaza Mayor; 011-34-921-461-300;; overlooks town’s central square.
Hotel Los Arcos – 26 Paseo de Ezequiel Gonzalez; 011-34-921-437-462;; popular with business travelers.
Parador de Segovia – Carretera Valladolid; 011-34-921-443-737;; panoramic views and good restaurant.

Sights & Sites
Acueducto – Spanish National Tourist Office, 10 Plaza Mayor; 011-34-921-460-334;; among most well-preserved Roman aquaducts in world; outside city.
El Alcazar – Plaza de La Reina Victoria Eugenia; 011-34-921-460-759;; hilltop castle.
Ignacio Zuloaga Museum – Castillo de Pedraza (Pedraza); 011-34-921-509-825;; tower of Pedraza Castle houses Zuloaga Museum, established by his heirs; he bought Pedraza Castle in 1926 & after restoring 1 of its towers, installed studio there, where painted landscapes & portraits of village residents; also on display is painting of Christ by El Greco, portrait of Countess of Baena by Goya & 17th Century Flemish still life.
Palacio Real de La Granja – Plaza de Espana, 17 San Ildefonso; 011-34-921-470-019;

Hosteria Solar de Tejada – 1 Claustrilla (on El Collado corner); 011-34-975-230-054;; 18 charming rooms.
Parador Soria (Hotel Antonio Machado) – Parque del Castillo; 011-34-975-240-800;; on hilltop, with commanding views over Duero Valley and mountains.

Collado 58 – 58 El Collado; 011-34-975-240-053;; light dining and drinks; Collado Special (chicken breast, York ham, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes); also serves breakfast.
Meson Castellano – 2 Plaza Mayor (across from Ayuntamiento); 011-34-975-213-045;; serves rural specialties, like cured hard pork sausage, eaten by hand.
Restaurante Palafox – 2 Calle Manuel Vicente Tutor; 011-34-975-220-076; local food.

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