Inside the walls there are many palaces in Avila, mainly clustered at the top of the hill around the Cathedral. Avila grew in the 16th century for various reasons: growth of the textile industry, buildings of churches, and the work of St Theresa and St John of the Cross.
Palace of Los Verdugo
The Palace of Los Verdugo dates from the beginning of the 16th century and stands just inside the Gate of San Vicente. Don Suero del Aguila commissioned the palace. He was a knight of Fernando, the brother of Carlos I. The palace has had many owners, including the Jesuits and today it is administrative offices.
And just across the road is the Sofrago Palace which apparently also belonged to the Aguila Family and which dates from the 16th century. Today it is a very popular Sofrago Palace Hotel, part of an international chain of hotels.
According to the hotel’s website the first building here was a refuge for nuns who subsequently moved to the Convent of La Encarnacion. If you don’t want to self-cater, and can afford it, this is definitely the place to stay in Avila!
Palace of the Superunda
The Palace of Alderman Pedro Ochoa Aguirre dates from c.1580 when he undertook renovation work on a building already on the site. Don José Manso de Velasco y Chaves, Count of Superunda and Marquis of Bermuda, inherited the palace at the beginning of the 19th century. and gave it his name. The painter Guido Caprotti bought the palace in the 20th century.
Guido Caprotti (1887-1966) was an Italian painter who travelled around Europe to increase his understanding of art and settled by chance in Avila in 1916. He was travelling to Madrid but the train was blocked by heavy snow and when he walked in the town he loved the serenity and decided to stay.
Palace of the Davila
This is one of the fortified Mediaeval palaces, built between the 13th and 16th centuries, which lined the walls of the town. The palace was founded by Don Pedro Davila y Zúñiga, first Marquis de las Navas and third count del Risco. He was a trusted official of Charles V.
The palace stands next to the Gate of the Rastro with far views over the countryside.
Palace of the Polentinos
The palace dates from the 16th century and today this is the Military History Archive and Army Museum. We popped in but clearly nothing caught the imagination of the camera.
The Dean’s Palace
This 16th century Manor House was built for the Dean of the Cathedral and today it is the Provincial Museum of Avila, along with the nearby Church of Santo Tome el Viejo. Both stand a in quiet little square round the corner from the Plaza del Mercado Grande.
The Museum has a lot of local history including photographs by Albert Klemm of Avila in the 1930s – the poverty was quite shocking and the change over the past century perhaps even more shocking.
The Church of Santo Tomas el Viejo has earlier exhibits: Verracos, Arab tombs and Roman floors
Exploring Palaces in Avila is hard work and so inevitably one repairs to a cafe!