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Ávila, the town of Stones and Saints

All through 2015, we have been celebrating the V centenary of the birth of St Teresa. The celebrations will culminate this month with the festivities of Santa Teresa in Avila. This annual festival honors the city’s patron saint with processions, concerts and fireworks. In October it is mandatory to visit the walled city of Avila!

With its many churches, convents and high-walled palaces, Ávila is the essence of Castilla, the epitome of old Spain.

Avila wallsLocated only 117 miles away from Madrid, Ávila is one of the best-preserved medieval bastions in Spain. A deeply religious city that claims to have the highest number of Romanesque and Gothic churches per capita in Spain.

In pre-Roman times (5th century BC), the Vettones inhabited the area. After the conquest by ancient Rome, the town started to be known as Abila or Abela, in fact the plan of the town remains typically Roman: rectangular with its two main streets intersecting at a forum in the center. It was one of the first towns in Hispania that was converted to Christianity.

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Ávila became a stronghold of the Visigoths but the Arabs soon conquered it. It suffered the attack by the northern Iberian Christian kingdoms, until it became part of the Kingdom of Castile in 1088. It was then when the walls, that still stand, where constructed to protect the Spanish territories from the Moors.

Ávila’s are one of the best-preserved and complete medieval town-walls in the world. The imposing Romanesque city walls comprise 8 monumental gates, 88 watchtowers and more than 2500 turrets.  Two sections of the walls can be visited: a 300m stretch that can be accessed from just inside the Puerta del Alcázar, and a longer 1300m stretch that runs the length of the old city’s northern perimeter.

The old city still preserves a 16th century soul and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985.

catedral avilaAmong the many churches and monuments there tree that standout: the Cathedral, the Monastery of La Encarnación and the Basilica of San Vicente.

Ávila’s 12th-century cathedral is both a house of worship and an ingenious fortress: its stout granite apse forms the central bulwark in the historic city walls. It is the first Gothic church in Spain.

The monastery of La Encarnación, located north of the city walls, is one of the essential places of the life of Teresa of Ávila. It was where she lived almost continuously between 1535 and 1574. One of the three main rooms open to the public is where the saint is said to have had a vision of the baby Jesus.

Outside the walls it is also located the Basilica of San Vicente. The graceful and measured proportions of this church makes it a unique example of the Hispanic Romanesque style. It was built in the 11th century on the site where the Romans slaughtered three Cristian martyrs (San Vicente and his sisters) in the early 4th century.

The history of Avila is intimately related to St Teresa, its most distinguished ambassador.

St TeresaSt Teresa is one of the most important figures in the Catholic Church. She was a prominent mystic and theologian of contemplative life through mental prayer. She is also considered the first great female writer in Spanish literature.

She lived a life ahead of her time. She became a nun to escape the fate that awaited her as a woman in the 16th century. Her clerical life allowed her to be educated and to develop an important literary work that includes poems, letters and an autobiography. Teresa’s writings, produced for didactic purposes, stand among the most remarkable in the mystical literature of the Catholic Church.

Her house is now a convent built in 1636 around the room where the saint was born in 1515. Visitors will find a church and a museum. Among the highlights the macabre relic of the saint’s ring finger, complete with ring…

The importance of St Teresa in Avila has led to the creation of one-of-a-kind institution: the Mysticim Interpretation Center. Its purpose is to introduce visitors to the phenomenon of mysticism though the general features of mystic knowledge. It is located outside the walls, very close to the Convent of St Teresa.

Ávila is a great place to taste the typical Castilian gastronomy.

The region suffers the hardest winters in Spain, the icy wind whistles in off the plains directly into your bones. For centuries, the main economic activity in the region has been agriculture and livestock. That is why the traditional gastronomy aimed to keep farmers and cattle breeders warm with filling and delicious dishes.

Among the specialties stew made of beans from El Barco and Revolconas potatoes, smashed potatoes with chorizo and de la Vera paprika.

A typical menu must also include a good-sized chuletón, a grilled T-bone steak, best cooked rare, and Yemas of St Teresa, a sticky, ultra-sweet cookie made of egg yolk and sugar.

Definitely not suitable for travelers who want to watch their figure…

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They already have...
Thank you to Samuel and all Carameltrail´s team for a superb two week experience in Spain. Everyone we encountered from his team was professsional, courteous and knowledgeable. There was never a bad moment.
Nick Wheeler (Wyoming, USA).
Samuel, So pleased to be able to comment on this page and tell how much we enjoyed our travels through Spain and Portugal. Carameltrail and Samuel went above and beyond any travel agency we have used ...
Nancy and Joe Tuhtan (San Rafael, California. USA)
Carameltrail was truly an amazing experience! I have never used a travel agency per se to plan a vacation, but after this experience, I can say that I was really impressed at the attention to detail. ...
Katherine Marion (Hoboken. New Jersey. USA)
I would like to thank Sam for our wonderful experience in Morocco. Our trip to Morocco began from the time my friends and I corresponded with Sam on our interests through the time we came back ...
Maria Lopez (New York, USA)
Carameltrail was referred to us by a friend who had just travelled to Spain and used the services of this Spain travel agency. She said she had an amazing trip to Spain and I am so ...
Samreen Siddiqui (Philadelphia, USA)
From the planning stage through the actual trip to Spain, Samuel was an attentive and thorough travel agent. His suggestions regarding guides, hotels, restaurants and transportation were always well thought out and shaped by our travel ...
Susan Berkon (NY, USA)
Spain is a beautiful country. The sights are magnificent and the people welcoming. We had a wonderful trip. Everything was scheduled beautifully. The accommodations were terrific. We would stay longer if we could so that we ...
Susan Reverdy (Stow, Massachusetts, USA)
Thank you for helping us plan such an amazing trip to Spain and meeting with us along the way. There were so many experiences that we can’t believe that we were able to have. I can’t ...
B. Bacher (St. Louis, USA)
I was fortunate enough to spend some time in France and Spain tracing some paternal roots and enjoying all that Spain has to offer. Upon the recommendation of a friend, we used CaramelTrail to put together ...
Paul Taltavull (Maryland, USA)
I have worked with many travel agents in the past, and no one worked as diligently from beginning to end as Samuel and this Spanish travel agency. Besides planning a great trip, he was in touch ...
Cheryl Berman (New Jersey. USA)
Bruce and I thank you for putting together such a wonderful trip. The drivers and guides were all great and very interesting. They made the trip easy and enjoyable. We had lots of fun with them. ...
Nan G. (Watchung, NJ. USA)
Just back from a wonderful Barcelona; Porto, Lisbon trip.. Our third using Carameltrail. Could not have been happier, Great guides who personalized the tours to our interests. Perfect -hotel locations and a sweat the details attitude ...
John Jonas (Virginia, USA)
I just returned from a 2 week private trip to Spain. Samuel and his team at CaramelTrail thought of every detail! From our pickups from airport and hotels to the knowledgable guides – every experience was ...
Crystal Vastine (Texas, USA)
I cannot say enough positive things about your services in planning our trip. The hotels, restaurants, and attractions were great. I want say especially that the tour guides in Barcelona, San Sebastian, and Granada were exceptional. ...
Dewey Cornell (Charlottesville, VA. USA)
This was our second trip with Angela and she gave us another amazing experience! Portugal was beautiful, especially Porto and the Douro Valley. Our picnic lunch in the vineyard in the Douro Valley was a perfect ...
Julie Beres (Wisconsin, USA)
The most memorable part of our trip was All of it . . especially Seville and the three major art museums in Madrid. Carameltrail is an amazing company that attended to every detail to make this ...
Robert Michaels (Sedona, Arizona, USA)
I have travelled many places in Europe and by chance found Carameltrail Travel Agency for Spain. They were absolutely the best I have ever worked with in Europe. Angela did an absolutely excellent job in communicating ...
Carole Ann Fleming (Fort Worth, Texas. USA)
We traveled through Spain with my husband and two children. Samuel understood our needs and tailored a perfect trip suitable for a 12 and 16 years old. The guides he provided where on time, extremely knowledgeable ...
Sophie Perisic (San Mateo. Ca. USA)
Samuel worked with us on a varied and detailed trip to Spain this summer. He was open to the changes we made as we went along. His responses to our questions or comments were almost immediate. ...
Debbie Zim (Israel)
We would also like to thank you for the thoughtful planning of the trip and taking care of the many details needed to make tourists, like ourselves, comfortable in new surroundings. Everyone that was responsible for ...
B. Beller (New Jersey, USA)
Samuel was great from start to finish. All the plans he organized were great, he is responsive beyond belief. He will work within your budget. We liked him so much we invited him and family to ...
David Zeichick (California. USA)
Great trip to Andalucia. Our hostess was wonderful and really helpful. Hope to join you again soon!
Eric (Holland)
To be honest, I was skeptical of this Spain tour company just because it was an online company but after their first response, I was much at ease. Angela was incredibly kind, quick to respond and ...
Kate Pankratz (Madison, USA)
Our trip with Carameltrail, was very well planned and executed. The attention to detail was excellent. It is a family owned company. We felt very welcome in the cities we visited and cared for by our ...
Naomi Burns (Palo Alto, California, USA)
This Spain travel agency demonstrated an unsurpassed level of professionalism and punctuality. This level of service and dedication was very obvious even during my initial contact with Samuel and preparations before the trip. My entire trip ...
Mac Guballa (Arizona, USA)
Our trip to Spain was perfect thanks to all the planning and support from this Spanish travel agency. The guides were wonderful, the hotels perfectly located and lovely and all the recommendations were “spot on”! Looking ...
Nancy Newman (San Carlos, CA. USA)
We just completed our second trip to Spain with Caraneltrail. The first was 7 days in Catalonia and Madrid, and this one was 12 days in Portugal, Galicia, the Basque Country and Catalonia. We have found ...
David Floyd (South Carolina, USA)
Thank you Samuel for the amazing 17-day trip to Spain & Portugal Samuel you prepared for my husband and I. Our 5-star hotel accommodations were absolutely wonderful and always in the heart of each city we ...
Ivy Kessel (Malibu, CA. USA)
My wife and I traveled to Spain for 11 days in October 2013. We don’t always use travel agents for our travels but considered using one to save us some time in researching the best sites ...
Rick Saul (Gaithersburg. Maryland. USA)
The trip to Spain was excellent. The hotels were excellent. The tour guides in Spain were very knowledgable and helpful. We felt very well taken care. It was a pleasure meeting Samuel and I would highly ...
Bruce Lockwood (Malibu, California)
When our son traveled to Bilbao, Spain to study abroad for a semester (Jan. 2013 ), my husband and I decided we would plan a trip to Spain to visit him. We knew we wanted to ...
Cindy & Mike Mathis (Alexandria, Virginia. USA)
Hola Samuel, For those that might be reading this to learn more about the service you provide thru Carameltrail I wanted to let them know about the EXCELLENT experience that we had. It all begin with ...
Alex & MaryLou Padilla (Santa Fe, USA)
We just wanted to Thank you so very much for planning another fabulous Caramel Trail vacation for us!  We absolutely loved all the places we visited in Portugal.  To our delight, it was a fantastic surprise ...
Patti K (Newport Coast, CA. USA)
My husband and I found Samuel online while looking for an agent to assist us in our European honeymoon. Samuel provided us an AMAZING experience. He crafted a unique 11 day trip designed to our interests ...
Eric & Makenzie Buhman (Pittsburg. PA. USA)
Samuel is outstanding in helping clients with their plans to travel to Spain. Very organized and it was a wonderful experience visiting various places in Spain, through Samuel’s help. His team is excellent!
Nancy Coscolluela (California. USA)
The best description I can offer for our recent two week trip to Spain arranged by this Spain Travel Agency is BEYOND MY EXPECTATIONS!! From our first contact with these Spain travel specialists to our return ...
Mark & Brenda Enright (Oakdale, Minnesota. USA)
Our experience wouldn’t have been the same without your help and attentiveness. Carameltrail was diligent in finding out our interests, flexible with our requests regarding the itinerary, and tailored the trip to our liking perfectly. We ...
Sarah and Steve Valentini (Chicago, IL, USA)
Hola Samuel! Deborah and I have returned home safely. Our trip to Spain was amazing because of the great care and planning you did for us. We loved every minute of it as each day was ...
Bernadette McCool (Masachussets, USA)
Don’t even think about traveling in Spain without Angela Martinez’ planning assistance! Every detail was perfect, from safe drivers in comfortable and clean cars to knowledgeable guides who spoke excellent English to restaurant recommendation to the ...
Nancy J Padgett (San Francisco, CA, USA)
Angela of Carameltrail did a amazing job creating a unique trip for our family. The trip to Spain and Portugal was completely stress free since everything was so well planned. We visited Lisbon, Sintra, Cascais, Seville, ...
Nancy Frehill (NY, USA)
My family and I had a wonderful time in our private trip to Spain. Spain is an amazing country! The people are very friendly and the food and culture are second to none. Thank you again ...
Mr Mehta & Family (New Jersey, USA)
Hola Samuel, I want to thank you for all you did to make our trip to Spain enjoyable and interesting. Your continuous checking in to make sure everything was going well was also very much appreciated. ...
Dan T. (San Diego, CA. USA)
Having never been to Spain and knowing very little about it, but hearing from everyone else we knew that had gone there had loved it, we decided that it would be a great destination for a ...
Howard Reisman (Massachusetts, USA)
The entire experience has exceeded my expectations. Thank you guys!
Jennifer Legendre
We have just returned from a wonderful vacation tour in Spain. We would like to strongly recommend Carameltrail tours as we were very impressed with their well organized tour. They place a great deal of attention ...
Luisa Wheeler (Texas, USA)
They exceeded our expectations. They tailored a trip for our family that we and our children (ages 7 and 10) enjoyed. It was the perfect balance of letting us explore Spain along with some guided tours ...
Mandi Siddiqui (Winnipeg, Canada)
Angela with Carameltrail planned a remarkable trip to Spain for two traveling companions from Texas. Every minute detailed was explained, including photos of street signs and buildings, during our free times along the journey. I have ...
Suzanne Hill (Fort Worth, Texas. USA)
We had a wonderful private trip to Northern Portugal. From medieval churches and castles, to a private dining cruise, to a winery tour in the Duoro Valley, each day was a window into the history and ...
R. Agins (New Jersey, USA)
Thank you so much for your fantastic planning for our outstanding vacation in Spain going far and beyond in preparing a trip that went beyond our expectation. We enjoyed it a lot. Remember, when ever you ...
Sam Al Rifai (Spring, Texas. USA)
Samuel Rojo of Carmeltrail put together a fantastic trip to Spain, Morocco and Portugal for 2 friends. We travelled to Morocco which included Marrakech, Casablanca, Essaouira & an amazing day hiking on a mule up the ...
Jeanne Scanland (Tennessee, USA)
I want to thank you for a wonderful Spain tour that was just what we wanted. We loved all the Hotel choices. We loved all of the lovely guides you chose. We felt that we were ...
Jan Mullen (Mariposa.CA.USA)
This Spain tour company is an excellent travel company. We had a wonderful trip to Spain. Because they had arranged all travel details, we were never stressed about travel connections.  The pace was perfect.  All of ...
Tom Knutilla (Ann Arbor, Michigan. USA)
Angela at Carameltrail planned an incredible trip to Spain and Portugal for us and she was incredibly responsive along the way. Her preparation was thorough, she was responsive to what we asked for and our priorities. ...
Laura Kumin (Washington, USA)
We went in a private trip to Spain. Samuel and his Spain travel agency team at Carameltrail did a great job in putting together an amazing trip for us. The experience was very personalized and the ...
Brittany Moran (Providence, USA)
Angela created the trip of my lifetime – one I will always remember! She took the time to find out exactly what my likes and dislikes were, organizing an amazing adventure to Barcelona, the south of ...
Andrea Rich (New York , USA)
Angela planned a wonderful trip for my husband and two children to Portugal and Spain. Everything ran very smoothly and she was always accessible if we had any questions during our trip. The guides that Carameltrail ...
Ninka Lippard (Pennsylvania, USA)
Our trip to Spain managed by Sam Rojo at Carmeltrail was extraordinary. Sam listenened very carefully to everything about which we were interested and arranged for us to see it all, taste it all and love ...
Bill & Patty W. (Athens, Michigan. USA)
An incredible trip to Spain planned by Carmeltrail. Perfectly organized and coordinated by Samuel and Angela of Carmeltrail. All local private tour guides were top rate: professional, knowledgeable, and eager to share their culture and history ...
Laura Kuhn (Charlottesville, VA. USA)
Hola Samuel the family have returned home safely to Australia! Short note to say thanks for all the organisation and planning put into co-ordinating our rather packed trip to Spain and Portugal! A fantastic set of ...
Jason & Ethel K (Sydney, Australia)
Samuel and his team at Carameltrail carefully handcrafted each day our of trip specifically tailored to our personal requests. The trip was cultivated special just for us and it felt that way! Each day was seamlessly ...
Celene Carey (Vancouver, Canada)
Excellent trip to Madrid. Samuel and his team crafted an itinerary to match my timing, budget and interests. I was able to see the sights, key museums and experience Madrid nightlife over a too short weekend. ...
Wally Bobkiewicz (Evanston, IL. USA)
Very professional, discreet and delivers excellent results. The most memorable all the shows that the travel company was able to book for us. If I could take my trip again, I would plan a longer trip.
Luis Saldaña (San Juan, Puerto Rico. USA)
This Spain travel agency did a phenomenal job in planning my itinerary. Sam was especially excellent in providing many options and details. Just through email correspondence he learned my likes/dislikes and had such focused attention that ...
Dana Codispoti (New York City. USA)
Just returned from a two week vacation in Spain and Portugal arranged by Carameltrail. When one travels in strange lands, he or she expects there to be some confusion and problems. While our problems were extremely ...
Mark Mestel (Shoreline, WA. USA)
Best vacation we ever had thanks to Carameltrail. We had them pick us up at the airport, arrange our hotel in a popular area (which was perfect, close to everything), then the tour of the city ...
Sherri Pivowar (Pembroke Pines, FL. USA)
This Spanish travel agency planned our trip through Portugal and Spain. We had a fabulous time. They selected hotels, lined up guides for us in various cities, planned transportation getting to each of our stops, made ...
Loretta Mateik (California, USA)
They are a very professional, ethical and efficient travel company. Samuel put together an excellent tour with high quality hotels, which made our trip most enjoyable. He gave us a good taste of Spanish culture and ...
Kathleen Zurilla (Blooming Grove, NY. USA)
We just returned from 10 days trip in Spain. Our trip was very thoughtfully planned by Angela and we had a great time. Our guides were outstanding in all locations. The hotels were within walking distance ...
John and Sheila Willemin (Jenkintown, PA. USA)
This Spain trip with five other girlfriends was going to be a first trip to Spain and I was rather nervous. Samuel listened to our ideas and formulated an itinerary for a 17-day trip that gave ...
Susan Warner (California, USA)
Samuel and Carameltrail organized an absolutely first rate trip to Spain for myself and eight other family members. I was a bit hesitant to choose him initially, since he runs a small Spanish travel agency that ...
Patrick Machado (San Francisco, California)
Samuel and his Spain travel agency designed a wonderful personnel trip for me to northern Spain. Things couldn’t have worked smoother, it was a great time!
Mike Posey (Los Angeles. California. USA)
Thank you so much for organizing a fantastic trip to Spain. Everything was first class. Our accommodations were perfect as well as the transport service. The tour guides were very knowledgeable and helpful that made our ...
Mala Taylor (Suwanee, GA. USA)
Our trip to Spain and Morocco with Carameltrail was one of the best decisions I have made. Samuel design our private trip to Spain and Morocco with great detail and care, listening to our interests and ...
Denise and Michael Smith ( Perth, Western Australia)
Mi esposo y yo viajamos con otras dos parejas. Samuel fue recomendado por una Amiga en Panamá. La experiencia fue a otro nivel. Samuel y su Equipo nos organizaron nuestro viaje en España pensando en todos ...
Enoch & Carmela (Panamá, Rep. de Panama)
Thank you for making our trip to Spain so successful and memorable. 5 stars trip all around. We made a video of our trip which we wanted to share. We used a U2 song and the ...
Matthew Hartman (Pittsburgh, USA)
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