21-10-2017


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General Information

Ávila is situated in the centre of Spain, in the historic region of Castile and Leon, just one hour from Madrid.

Ávila is a small Spanish provicial capital city (population: 65,000) but it is rich in history and monuments earning it the title “World Heritage City” given by UNESCO, ensuring that a little of Ávila belongs to each one of us. The Noble Prize holder C.J. Cela said that “Ávila best reflects the soul of Spain”.

To achieve your objectives choosing the right city to study is just as important as choosing the ideal school. You will find out the city´s atmosphere will help you study in a very efficient way!
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Who is Ávila ideal for if you want to do a Spanish course?

For minors (safety and entertainment)
For university students (if they wish to meet Spanish people of their age , if they are looking for a more authentic Spanish “nightlife”)
For business people and VIPs wishing to study in an effective manner in a relaxed atmosphere and without being disturbed
For pensioners who are looking for somewhere quiet and with a rich culture
If you wish to learn correct Spanish = ("castellano"), and would like to avoid unnecessary confusions between this and other languages and dialects spoken in Spain
If this is your first visit to Spain. Ávila is ideal for a first contact with Spain and its people
If you wish to study to the exclusion of distractions
If you want a happy balance between concentrated study and having fun by immersing yourself in the authentic Spanish atmosphere

Even the former vice-rector of Salamanca University says that “Ávila is the ideal city if you want to attend a Spanish course, mainly due to its particular historical interest and its rich cultural programmes.” (Diario de Ávila, 17 June 2005)

Ávila is the best preserved medieval city in Spain, the most impressive walled city in Europe and its illuminated fortress make Ávila one of the most spectacular sights in the world.

Authors who have written about Ávila

Ávila appears in numerous movies, for example in “The Gun” with Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra and Sofia Loren, in “Alba de América”, in “Don Juan”, etc. Hundreds of both national and international writers have written about Ávila with the following being just one example:

"Ávila is an improbable city. Only divine passion parallels the vehemence that was able to erect such a city. Encircled by a fortress wall, unique in Europe for its intact greatness. Its eighty eight towers overwhelm with sorrow the Berroquian rock, but to look at it with the spirit, Ávila is a winged city. It doesn’t take much effort to imagine it suspended in the air by the slender fingers of the Gothic Angels and their musical motion. (Enrique R. Larreta. “La Gloria de Don Ramiro”).

Viva Ávila! – Eat, Communicate and Dance

Ávila, a monumental, peaceful and welcoming city by day also has a varied and versatile nightlife, ensuring a city that perfectly combines tranquillity with entertainment – and parties continue until the early hours of the morning.

If you are one of those who prefer a relaxing stroll after dinner we recommend starting with the Paseo del Rastro, taking a short route from the square “Mercado Chico” and ending up at the cathedral in front of which you will find the cafe “Palacio de los Velada”, a covered patio, the ambience set by gentle music and careful service, an ideal place to sit with friends and savour a coffee or a glass of something in an environment suitable for conversation and social get-togethers. And you can be assured that you are following good company – Carlos V was also here.

Very close to there, in the street El Tostado, you can find the cafe “La Taberna”, a small airconditioned space in the basement of the palace where the music is somewhat livelier while maintaining an environment that invites dialogue and friendly chat.

Later, at about mid-night, if you feel like further enjoying Ávila, you should look in the street of San Segundo for “Cafe del Adarve”. In its rustic wood and stone setting exhibitions by new painters and sculptors are held, Anglo-American music from the seventies and eighties is played while jazz concerts by well-known international groups fill the bar on Thursdays.

“Tapas” are delicious savoury snacks accompanying drinks, a kind of gastronomy in miniature that shows off the city’s pride in its cuisine. Avila is fast becoming one of the most important centres of “tapas” in Spain. Every June, there is an important tapas championship in Avila.

Our tour takes in the city’s most typical bars. We start our first round of “tapas” at about eight-thirty near one of the gates, at the “Arco del Rastro”, where the”Mesón el Rastro” ’s meatballs (albondigas) are perhaps the most appreciated “tapas”. Next we go to our neighbour – “El Rincon" (and meet our friends Paco and Segundo). Speciality on Thursdays: Seafood.

Then we move to “El Palomar”, in Tomas Luis de Victoria street, where you can try squid and prawns “a la gabardina”. We recommend the tasty combination of fish with pepper which won “El Palomar” the first Avila’s Championship of Tapas.

“El Guillermo” in Chico Square offers the region’s best snacks with codfish.

Our fifth “tapas” stop is at “Bodeguita” in San Segundo Street, where, with a stunning selection of all kinds of Spanish wines, you are offered grilled mushrooms or “coruja” salad and where Emilio (Emili for friends) organizes some fantastic wine-tasting activities for our students.

After “Bodeguita” we will go towards “Plaza del Mercado Grande”, to San Millan street, to Avila’s oldest bar, “Casa Patas”. Its limited space won’t stop you enjoying their delicious tripe or pickled olives. It was a favourite restaurant of the author, C. J. Cela.

After having tasted Avila’s typical “tapas” there is nothing better than a cup of good coffee in the café “La Colonial”, in Estrada street, with its old wood decoration and pleasant music.

AND A GOOD RESTAURANT?

If you feel like eating out, Ávila offers a great number of possibilities from the most economic to the most sophisticated, always with excellent quality and typical dishes of Castile that allow you to appreciate the abilities and culinary tastes of our city and region.

There are a lot of options but if we were to recommend any of them it would be the lovely “Alcaravea” Restaurant in the Cathedral square where to the locals it is a privilege to taste the potato tortilla with peppers, the delicious natural salads and the vinegered fish served with mouth-watering special sauces.

In “Doña Guiomar”, situated in Tomas Luis de Victoria street, there are excellent honey puff pastries stuffed with meat or fish, chops of Ávila and the leek and cheese pie.

If you prefer something a little more sophisticated, visit the best restaurant in Ávila, “El Almacén”, and try first class Spanish cuisine: marvellous dishes with impeccable service – the exquisite grilled vegetables, the delicious sirloin steak with fresh peppers and the roasted suckling pig are some excellent examples.

If, on the other hand, you’d like to try countryside food, strong, well-seasoned and authentically ours, direct yourself towards the traditional and famous “Mesón el Rastro” in the gate of the wall with the same name and tackle a cocido (local stew), beans with chorizo (tasty, rich sausage) or patatas revolconas (a local specialty of tasty mashed potatoes with paprika) with pork crackling.

If you are in search of seafood, “El Cocedero” next to the bull ring, is the best place.

Finally, “El Labrador” by the bridge, is the cheapest, with the longest family tradition with truly homemade food and also the best tripe. Javi, the waiter, is rough and cordial at the same time – he is an authentic Castillian.

Long Live Ávila`s Nightlife! – “la Marcha”

WHERE TO MEET PEOPLE WHEN YOU ARE 18 TO 40 YEARS OLD

A night on the move or “movida”, that is to say a night of fiestas (parties) until the early hours, is also a great way to be introduced to the culture, habits and customs of a fixed social group. In more than 300 bars, discos and clubs - we can only mention a few, each one of you will be able to find your own style and preference. Look out: Every day new ones open their doors and others change their names.

We start our night of fiesta in “Cafe del Adarve” on San Segundo street, listening to live music and feeling the pulse of the city.

The Irish Pub in Eduardo Marquina is very popular with its “Spanglish” atmosphere.

Later we move on to “El Delicatessen” in Avenida Portugal, an ideal place to meet Spanish people, integrate with groups and use the resources that you have acquired in class.

Their sessions of "story telling" always attract many spectators.

Movement in the night is essential. The Spanish do not stay too long in one place and for this reason we now move on to the next disco-pub in Avenida de Madrid in front of the filling station. This bar, decorated with brilliant crystals, mirrors and featuring salsa and fusion music, will ensure that you won’t be able to resist dancing.

The next destination is the former “Básico” where pop, rock, and funky rhythms are played in a young, activity packed environment. We continue the night with just a small hop to “Quondam” with its medieval style which is filled till the early hours of the morning.

If you have followed this Spanish ritual of nightlife, by all indications, it should now be about five or six in the morning. The most nocturnal creatures meet in “Sabor” of Avenida Portugal while the “Copa” opens from 5 at night and closes at 10 in the morning providing another good option.

From here it is time to leave, either to sleep or to have as a breakfast a typical hot chocolate and “churros” (delicious long donuts), perfect at this time of the morning in, for example, “Las Cinco Villas” in Capitán Méndez Vigo street or Rollo square. And now, finally, to sleep!

WHERE TO GO IF YOU ARE YOUNGER THAN 18 YEARS

If you are younger than eighteen, you are still offered many options, adapted to your age, for a good night out in Ávila. Meeting people, practising your Spanish and adapting to the customs of the young Spanish people is not difficult in Ávila. With neither dangers nor bad atmosphere, Ávila is the ideal city to spend some hours dancing and “marcha” (going out, hitting the town).

You could head towards, until about ten at night, Vallespin, the street next to our school that comes off the Plaza del Mercado Chico in the centre of the historical part of the city. Here you will find a concentration of young people in the twenty or more locations that pack this street. Of these we recommend, so that you can try the distinct types of music and ambience, “Arbore” which is a disco-bar that imitates the garden of a castle with neon, multi-coloured lights and pop music. You could then continue on to “Millenium” where they spin music of many different styles and where dancing is converted into an obligation. Pay a visit also to “Abacán”, a location where you are also destined to dance with techno beats and fusion rhythms.

At about twelve thirty people head towards Avenida Portugal where “Ozone” (today changed the name into "Mozart" - as many places continuously change their names in Spain!) invites all the young people of your age. This bar, on two floors, allows you to choose between chatting in the top floor or dancing on the level below which is almost a dance club.

You may also take advantage of the fitness and leisure programme of the City Council of Ávila: the "88 Torreones" sport center (calle Don Luis Jiménez) offers Zumba, Spinning, batuca, bailes latinos, videojuegos, play station... and all for free.

To avoid unnecessary problems please, respect the homecoming hour set by your parents and host family.
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Avila - City Tour

Who placed the first stone? And when? Who knows! There is a lack of information about the historical events of the city that are only now slowly being unveiled.

The origins are lost in history. We can play with myths and legends found in remote castros and settlements. Ptolomeo spoke of “Obila” as the “vetona Ávila” which means “mountain”.

What will you find today in the 21st century in this medieval Spanish city? - We suggest a stroll through the city to discover all it has to offer, a journey that will awaken all your senses.

When you arrive in Ávila you will see it as if captured in a historical photograph, a still image, but full of life.

The first thing that will surprise you and undoubtedly fill you with awe is our defence walls. You will need time to stop and marvel at this impressive mass of stone that surrounds the city, as if wrapping the city in a loving embrace. Its 2526m allow us to take a relaxed stroll around it while enjoying views of the mountainous, rugged countryside.

In drawing near to the structure we realise just how tall it is as it seems to touch the sky – 12m high and 3 m wide. It was constructed rapidly between 1090 and 1099 in the Romanesque style.
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A Tour of the City

We will begin our tour in front of one of the nine gates that open the city to the rest of the world and walk through the narrow streets through the bustle of people and children.

We will quickly find ourselves in front of the Cathedral – San Salvador – a true landmark of the city rising out of the forest of stone like a huge cypress tree. Ramón Otero Pedrayo, in his book “Geography of Spain”, said about the cathedral of Avila: “It is not bright and cheerful like the one of Toledo, it is not pompous like in Seville, it is not fascinating like Leon’s, it is not mystical like in Barcelona. The cathedral of Avila is strong. It doesn’t caress. It forces you to pray. In it floats the sword and the cross. It is one of the most impressive monuments of our medieval art.”

We can add little more about this Cathedral of Avila which is both a temple and a fortress, a cross and a sword. In it we can see a mixture of architectural styles with Romanesque in its oldest parts and Gothic in its completion and naves. You have to feel it!

Taking a breath from our tour of the city we exit the walls through the Arch of Harina to be presented with some of Avila’s great terrace bars. We can take the opportunity to have a refreshing beer and wine, each of which is always accompanied by a delicious “tapa” (snack).

Continuing our walk we will encounter the imposing Basilica of San Vincente which has received much critical praise. Two precious statues adorn the exterior of the “Pórtico" of San Vincente blending the two styles of still and life art - and a lesson in sculpture is the “Pórtico Meridional”, attributed to Maestro Mateo.

Once inside we will encounter the memorial to the martyrs, a stunning example of “book-art”. Walking through the naves we tread on, with regret, the most outstanding medieval families of Ávila.

San Vincente was one of only three sworn churches existing in Spain. Passing through legends, martyrdom and medieval iconic sculptures we leave the ancient “coso” de Ávila.

Walking through the cobbled streets to “Santa Teresa Plaza” (“El Grande”), amongst the hustle and bustle of the thousands of birds, we will find a place to meet and rest in this large open square. Enclosing the huge square is the Church of San Pedro from whose towers used to announce the recently deceased.

There is more to come - the quality of art and history that we can admire in this small city seems endless. We must not forget San Andrés and its capitals with a large content of erotica, nor Our Lady of the Head, the ancient mosque and church of exorcisms, nor San Esteban, San Nicolás, Saint Tomé the Old and many more.

We must make a mention of a church that is normally outside the tourist route. We are referring to Saint Tomás – a commemorative monument of the taking of Granada with its cloisters, tomb stones and the palace of the Catholic Kings. It is the place where one of the characters of the “black legends” rests: Torquemada.

Ávila of the Knights, Ávila of Teresa of Jesús, a city with a strong character. Teresa of Ávila, a personality of writings, is referred to by Catholicism and did much for the advancement of the Spanish language. What did she do exactly? The answer to this and other questions can be found in the Teresian Route. We start with the birth house of Teresa continuing to the Monastery of Incarnation before stopping at the Monastery of the Mothers and finally to the convent of Saint Mary of Grace.

We could add many other extensive paths in our search of Medieval Avila, the Romanesque Avila, Avila of the Emperors or of the Celts, a route of typical products etc.

We could traverse the great quantity of palaces where famous historical characters such as Carlos V and Felipe II spent time.

However, it is the palace that provides perhaps the greatest incentive to visit is the Palace of the Duchess of Valencia – the Mansion of the Eagle from the 16th century – and now the new seat of the Madrid Prado Museum in Ávila.

A boastful medieval city has to demonstrate strength and power, and to put a point but not an end to our tour of the History, Art and Life of Spain. We stop to have a rest at the noble palaces of Ávila.

If you are looking for tranquillity but not boredom,
Art but not tiredness,
Reading but not studying,
Eating but not getting fat,
Parties but not stupidities,
Sun but not sweat,
If you are looking to learn and communicate -
Ávila is awaiting you!
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The Spanish of Avila

Dialects and languages of the Iberian Peninsula.

In Ávila, "Castellano" is spoken. This is the standard Spanish. While in many regions of Spain, “Castellano” (= “Spanish”, or “Castilian”) is not always used, for political or social reasons, you can nevertheless use it everywhere as, according to the Constitution, it is the official language, throughout Spain.
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In Ávila you have a big advantage: whether in or outside of the classroom, you will listen to and use only Castilian as the language of communication. This will lead to a greater progress in learning and avoid unnecessary confusions.
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Exploring the Area

The surroundings of Avila offer infinite possibilities to get to know the countryside and the traditional style of life of the people of the land.

More than 30 tourist routes exist with themes such as the route of the kings, of wine, of painters, of castles or if you still prefer something different, you could follow the path of the musicians, the chocolateers or the comedians.

You could discover historical towns such as Madrigal, Arévalo or Arenas de San Pedro (all of which are connected to the famous Kings of Spain) or be at one with the nature in “La Moraña” or in “Sierra de Gredos”.
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To awaken both your body and soul, taste the wine of Villarejo, the lamb of Candeleda, the beans of Barco and the famous tostón of Arévalo.

We have at your disposal bicycles with which you can freely explore Avila and its outskirts. To make the most of your day, we can inform you of many attractive routes with just some examples being: the Celtic villages of Cardeñosa, Ulaca and Chamartín.

The ruins and deserted areas of Raso, the lake of Barraco, where you can rent canoes, the castles of Villaviciosa and Sotalbo, of Narros, Mombeltrán, ..., the picturesque landscapes of Ojos Albos with its paintings from the Stone Age, the Sierra of Avila, and much more.

Bring a day pack and be ready to explore.
Copyright © 2012 Instituto Español Murallas de Ávila. Calle Martín Carramolino 6 - 05001 Ávila, Spain - Tel. (+34) 920 222 773
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