By the time Saint Theresa made it famous with her poetry and her mystic raptures, the city of Ávila already had a history behind it. A history which included its ancient Celtic settlers, its Romanisation period, its Visigoths and its Muslim conquest. The thing about its foundation by a son of Hercules is a little more doubtful, but we’ll leave it there…
In the eighth century, a particularly difficult phase began in the area. It was part of a large territory, almost depopulated which was a frequent scenario of clashes between Moors and Christians. None of the sides managed to dominate clearly, so for many years, there were millions of battles and skirmishes, which crushed what was left of the Roman and Visigoth Ávila.
And so on until, at the end of the eleventh century, King Alfonso rolled up his sleeves to rebuild this Castilian lands after so much disaster. It is said that it was then that the spectacular walls of the city were erected, although on that subject there is a diversity of opinions. What we know for sure is that the medieval town was flourishing, until entering a kind of lethargy at the turn of the sixteenth century.
So, the most beautiful things that exist inside these amazing walls come from those times: the Romanesque churches of San Andrés and San Pedro, the impressive Gothic cathedral, first one in Spain of this style, or the Santo Tomás Monastery, also Gothic. And of course, the convent, erected where the natal house of the mystic Saint Theresa was. There are also many hermitages and other religious buildings not related to this mystical lady, so do not miss the Basilica of San Vicente.
It is time to walk between many palaces of the Castilian nobility that are still standing. One of the most striking is the Tower of Los Guzmanes, but it is not the only one: the one of Valderrábanos, the one of Polentinos or the one of the Velada are part of a list in which is included the Palacio de los Águila, owned by a family linked to a dark legend with which we will finish this audio-guide.
It is said that, around the year 1520, a painter was commissioned to restore the portrait of a lady called Beatriz. He fell madly in love with her, so once the job was finished, he kept hanging around her house hoping to see her. This kind of platonic love wasn’t liked by one of the members of the Águila family, who apart from being interested in the same woman he turned out to be so jealous that he lost it and went out looking for the artist, sword in hand. He found him, they fought, and the Águila man fell to the ground in the street that today it is called “of the Life and the Death”. The painter went to Flanders as a soldier to avoid revenge and to forget the admired lady, and of her, Beatriz, we do not know if she felt more sorrow for one, for the other, for both … or for none. What do you think?