By April 21, 2015 0 Comments Read More →

Ávila, Spain: A World Heritage Site with a heart

It isn’t easy retrofitting a medieval walled city to an international destination for special needs travelers, but Ávila has surpassed expectations by making almost every historic monument available to all visitors. This includes the intact 2.5 km ancient wall surrounding the city, which is the symbol of this region of Spain.

Ávila is more than 3,000 feet above sea level and is the highest city in Spain, making it cold, but beautifully surrounded by white-capped mountains in the winter and a nice escape from the heat of nearby Madrid or other sea level towns in the torrid summer months.

The imposing village wall is the first thing you’ll see as you approach the village. It is 12 meters high and 3 meters thick in places, with nine gates and 88 towers. It takes at least an hour to circumnavigate but it is well worth the effort. The village created an entrance ramp for wheelchair users.

Several monuments (including the walls, the San Vicente church, the Monastery of Santo Tomas or the Cathedral) were recently made fully accessible to most disabilities. Audio tours that are also available in Spanish and international sign language help navigate the sites, an easy reading pamphlet describes the history of the wall and a few other historic sites for those who struggle with learning issues, wheelchairs can enter all of the historic buildings and braille menus can be found at local cafes and restaurants.

The first stop should be the tourist information office, which has wheelchairs that you can borrow and a magnetic loop at the information desk on the ground floor for people with hearing impairments. Tourist information will provide information on the best way to access the many sites of the city and the transportation systems that are available. Trains are all wheelchair accessible as are buses.

cultural influences – Celtic, Roman, Arabic and Christian. The imposing walls that encircle the city (2,500 meters long, 12 meters high and 3 meters thick in places, with nine gates and 88 towers) are among the best preserved in Europe and an excellent example of medieval architecture. They are also considered the most iconic landmark of the city.

contain nine gateways and over 2,000 crenellations keep watch over Ávila’s horizon as in past times. The Puerta del Alcázar and the gateway next to the Basílica de San Vicente are a must for every visitor.

Other towns and villages, such as Arenas de San Pedro and El Barco de Avila, are also home to monuments and buildings dating from the Middle Ages. Its natural treasures include particularly the Iruelas Valley Nature Reserve and the Sierra de Gredos Regional Reserve, both ideal places for rural tourism. The gastronomy is traditionally based on local products like the white kidney beans from El Barco, meat from Avila or the sweet confectionery known as the “yemas de Avila” (made with egg yolks and sugar).

Tourist info:

the city’s railway station has been adapted to the needs of persons with disabilities and work is underway on a new bus station which will meet the requirements of universal access. An Accessible Taxi service is being extended in the City.

Posted in: Cities, Country, Spain

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