Avila's 12th century cathedral is not widely renowned for its magnificence as it remains unfinished, the historical aspect of the building is interesting though as the cathedral acted as a fortress when the city was under attack from religious armies. There is also an eclectic mix of Gothic and Romanesque building styles which adds a hidden beauty to the building.
Plaza de la Catedral
Entry fee is 3 euros.
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10am-8pm, Sun noon-7pm (summer)
This is the first of many monastries which Saint Teresa founded. It contains well preserved relics and personal memorabilia pertaining to her life. The most macabre attraction is the coffin which she slept in.
C/Duque de Alba
Entry fee is 1 euro.
Opening hours: Daily 10am-1pm & 4-7pm (summer), 10am-1pm & 3-6pm (winter)
This convent is rather overwhelming with each room labelled with the act which Saint Teresa performed in it. Everything which she is alleged to have felt or looked at is on show. There is a small museum covering the Saint's life.
Entry fee is 1.20 euros.
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 9.30am-1.30pm & 3.30-6pm, Sat-Sun 9.30am-2pm & 3.30-6pm.
As the name implies this convent has strong links with Saint Teresa as it is built over her birthplace. You can see the exact spot where she was born (marked by a huge plaque). The beautiful baroque church is decorated with scenes of Saint Teresa's life. Unless you're really dedicated to studying her life in intricate detail than this is probably the only church/museum which is worth visiting as entry is free.
Plaza de la Santa - a 20min walk from Ávila's train station.
It's a very moving experience to visit the railway built by POWs during World War II and which claimed the lives of about 115,000 men.
It's also beautiful countryside. Try and find time for the excellent (private) railway museum next to the main war cemetery in Kanchanaburi.
This steep and spectacular gorge is the most famous sight in Ronda as it acts as a natural border between the old and new parts of Ronda. Birds fly off the towering cliffs to feed in the Guadalévin river some 130m below the Puente Nuevo bridge. Best of all it costs nothing to admire the views which stretch right through the gorge.
El Tajo is clearly signposted from both the bus and train stations
These two magnificent Moorish gates represent the doom of the Moors in Ronda as it was through these very gates that the Christian conquerors passed to expel the Moorish citizens out of the city.
Both gates lie at the end of La Ciudad at the entrance to the modern suburb of San Francisco.
The Casa de Mondragón is said to be true palace of the Moorish kings who ruled over the independant kingdom of Ronda. It has magnificent carved ceilings and a brilliant museum which covers (in great detail) the vivid Moorish past of Ronda. Three airy patios provide a welcome rest.
C/Montero - west of Plaza Duquesa de Parcent
Entry fee is 2 euros.
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 10am-7pm, Sat & Sun 10am-3pm (Oct-March closes at 6pm)
This church acts as the Cathedral of Ronda. It was originally an Arab mosque, but apart from the belfry which stands on top of the old minaret, most of the mosque's foundations have been covered over with a graceful combination of Gothic and Renaissance building styles. The views from the top of the belfry are amazing.
Plaza Duquesa de Parcent in the centre of Ronda's La Ciudad district.
Entry fee is 2 euros.
Open daily from 10am-7pm (Oct-March closes at 6pm)
The Baños Árabes are the beautifully restored 13th century baths which functions as an informative and interesting musuem. It is in less disrepair than the Moorish baths in Jaén and you gain a better understanding of Moorish architecture. Walkways take you above the baths and explain in great detail the Roman water system of cold, tepid and hot baths. The best features though are the barrel vaulted ceilings and the octagonal pillars which support Moorish horseshoe arches. The distinctive hump-shaped cupolas are a widely copied feature of this building.
Entry is free.
Opening hours: Tues 9am-1.30pm & 4-6pm, Wed-Sat 9.30am-3.30pm Oct-March also open Sun 10am-2pm.
The Puente Viejo of 1616 is slightly less admirable than the Puente Nuevo but the views of El Tajo gorge and La Ciudad are still good and it gives a chance to get your bearings as you enter or leave La Ciudad. The single span Puente San Miguel is not on such an epic scale as the Puente Nuevo or the Puente Viejo but it is a much more peaceful spot (apart from when coaches full of day trippers stop there to drop them off).
Puente Viejo is at the end of C/Marqués Parada not far from La Casa del Rey Moro and the Puente de San Miguel lies below the Puente Viejo over the tricking Guadalévin river.
The Casa del Rey Moro is a spectacular 18th century mansion which is built on Moorish foundations. Unfortunately, only the gardens and not the house itself are open to the public. But the garden hides a treasure of it's own - an underground stairway down to the balcony which looks over the Guadalévin river (take care after it's been raining as they are slippery). The view takes in the Puente Nuevo and the whitewash houses which lean precariously on the opposite bank of El Tajo gorge. If you want to avoid paying the ridiculous 4 euros entry fee and queuing for a vantage point on the small balcony then stick to the Puente Nuevo from where you can get the same view for free! I recommend that you go in the late afternoon to avoid the throngs of day-trippers crowding the balcony and stairs.
17 C/Marqués de Parada
Entry fee is 4 euros
Opening hours: daily 10am-8pm
The arched Puente Nuevo is the very symbol of Ronda. It was built in the 18th century to connect the Moorish side of the town to the modern quarter known as 'Mercadillo' (where the bus and train stations are situated). The views of the El Tajo gorge and of the hills are breathtaking. There is an information centre just underneath the bridge which has an informative exhibition about the construction and history of the bridge. The Puente Nuevo also has a rather macabre link with Ernest Hemingway as it was once the site of a prison, and the inmates there were massacred on a huge scale as they were thrown to their deaths into the 130m El Tajo gorge below. This act provided the inspiration for Ernest Hemingways's famous poem 'For Whom the Bell Tolls'.
The Puente Nuevo is clearly signposted from the bus and train stations and is the main entry point into La Ciudad.
La Ciudad is the most attractive part of Ronda on the right bank of El Tajo gorge. It is where the Moorish past of Ronda comes to life with it's Renaissance mansions and palaces. The best way to see the delights of La Ciudad is to wander aimlessly through the narrow streets which offer enticing views of the Serranía de Ronda.
La Ciudad is a 20 min walk from Ronda's train station. Just follow the brown tourist signs for Puente Nuevo and El Tajo.
I recommend this area because it is full of things to see and to experience too.
Let's start from the Basilica of Saint John in Lateran, the cathedral of the Pope, the main Basilica in the world for Catholics.
This is unique because there are different styles and the result is perfect. In case you want to know more about the complex, you can get an audio guide at the information point which is beside the statue of Constantine in the main porch.
Other interesting sights include; the 12th century cloister; the Baptistery (the Basilica and the Baptistery were the very first Christian sites in Rome); the Scala Santa that was walked on by Jesus on his way to trial by Pontius Pilate and brought from Jerusalem in the 4th century by Emperor Constantine’s mother, St. Helena; the Sancta Sanctorum, the private chapel of the Popes and the Triclinium where you can see the very first flag of the Vatican State.
You need to spend at least 2 days within this area because nearby you can visit the Basilica of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem, the small and cosy church of the SS 4 Coronati and its cloister, visit the Villa Celimontana Park, the church of SS Giovanni e Paolo, the very well preserved Roman houses of the Celio, they are located just beside the church.
Remember, just in front of the Basilica of Saint John in Lateran you can get the bus 218 (blue one) that will take you directly to the Catacombs.
Metro Linea A-B and Bus N. 16-81-85-87-117-186-218-650-714-850.
San Pablo church is like something out of Romeo and Juliet with a 13th century balcony which is enhanced by Renaissance features. The inside is quite dreary and disappointing compared to the exterior but it's a good enough spot for prayer or contemplation.
Plaza del Primero de Mayo - follow C/Horno Contado from the Plaza Vázquez de Molina.
This is undoubtedly the finest church in Úbeda and is widely regarded as a masterpiece of Spanish Renaissance architecture because it was erected by the Renaissance master of Spain - Andrés de Vandelvira. It has a dazzling façade featuring a carving of the Transfiguration of Christ flanked by intricate statues of St Peter and Paul. The theme of the Transfiguration of Christ is continued inside with a brilliantly animated retablo.
The Capilla del Salvador is located on the Plaza Vázquez de Molina (opposite the Palacio de las Cadenas)in Úbeda.
Entry fee is 2.25 euros.
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10am-2pm & 5-7.30pm, Sun 10.45am-2pm & 4.30-7.30pm.
This spectacular building now houses the town hall of Úbeda and it's principal eye-catching piece is the façade fronted by enormous monumental lions.
The Palacio de Cadenas is situated on the Plaza Vázquez de Molina - just follow the brown 'Zona Monumental' tourist signs from the bus station in Úbeda.
This tremendous Renaissance square is the main focal point of Úbeda's social life with cafés and curio shops around it. It was also designed to show off the 16th century Renaissance buildings of Andrés de Vandelvira (who designed the cathedrals and Baeza and Jaén). It compares well to the Plaza Mayor/Plaza de Leones in Baeza.
From the bus station in Úbeda follow the brown tourist signs to the 'Zona Monumental' and you'll eventually reach the square.
Úbeda is the beautiful twin sister of Baeza with it's Renaissance buildings and churches. Even though it is a larger town with modern suburbs it still retains a charming village atmosphere. The most notable sights are: Plaza Vazquez de Molina, Palacio de las Cadenas, Capilla de San Salvador and San Pablo church.
Úbeda lies just 9km east of Baeza on the main road to Castilla-La Mancha. 14 daily buses depart from Jaén and almost all buses with the destination of Baeza continue on to Úbeda as there is no train station in the town.
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