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Avila Cathedral

Photo © Hannah Swithinbank. View all images in our Avila Cathedral Photo Gallery.
Photo © Malcolm Smith.
Photo © Tony Gálvez.
Photo © Gustavo Marin.
Photo © Br Lawrence Lew, OP.
Photo © Gustavo Marin.

The 12th-century Ávila Cathedral is a strong, fortress-like cathedral adjoining the famous medieval walls of Ávila.


Construction on Ávila Cathedral began in 1095shortly after the Reconquest. The earliest parts were in the Romanesque style and built like a fortress - in fact, the apse ("Cimorro") is built right into the city walls.

Dedicated to San Salvador, Ávila Cathedral is truly a cathedral-castle, with battlements and sentry walks incorporated into the structure. It's not just for looks, either - in the 12th century, Bishop Sancho protected the young Alfonso IX until he became king.

Most of the cathedral that can be seen today was built between the 12th and 14th centuries. During this time, the trend moved from Romanesque to Gothic styles, and the transition can be clearly seen in the interior.

What to See

The west facade looks quite lopsided - the cathedral remains unfinished and the south tower was never built.

Inside, visitors can see the change from Romanesque to Gothic in action - the earlier Romanesque parts are made of a red-and-white stone, while the Gothic parts were built with pure white stone. The Gothic half of the cathedral seems more spacious than the Romanesque, yet the proportions are exactly the same.

The coro (choir) and two chapels in the left aisle date from the Renaissance. The elegantly carved stalls of the choir are the work of a Dutch sculptor, Cornelius. Here also is the marble tomb of a 15th-century bishop dubbed El Tostado ("The Toasted," for the brownish tone of the tomb).

Other highlights of the interior include the 13th-century sacristy, with a star-shaped cupola and gold inlay, and the treasury, with a huge silver monstrance and medieval religious icons.

Quick Facts on Avila Cathedral

Site Information
Names:Ávila Cathedral; Avila Cathedral; Catedral; Cathedral of San Salvador
State:Castile and Leon
Faiths:Christianity; Catholic
Styles:Romanesque; Gothic
Dates:12th-14th C
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Avila, Spain
Coordinates:40.655647° N, 4.697245° W  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of Avila Cathedral

Below is a location map and aerial view of Avila Cathedral. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.


  1. A Cathedral-Fortress - Avila Tourism
  2. The Rough Guide to Spain 11, pp. 178-79.
  3. Catedral de Avila - Frommer's Spain

More Information

Article Info

Title:Avila Cathedral
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:10/09/2009
Link code:<a href="http://www.sacred-destinations.com/sites/avila-cathedral">Avila Cathedral</a>