The Walls of Ávila are much more than just a simple instrument of war. In reality, they are like a book; a book which reflects the history of Ávila and its peoples.
More than just explaining the city, the Walls have throughout history been an active and determining factor in the way the urban development of Ávila was configured and in the distribution of the urban space amongst the various social groups which lived here (craftsmen, noblemen, clergy, Jews, “mudéjares” (Muslims permitted to live under Christian rule), vegetable gardeners, and so on). If the visitor carefully contemplates this monument – the most representative of this wise old Castilian city – he or she will perceive, in an original and evocative way, the great questions which have always occupied the minds of the social groups: power, wealth, honour, and more.
In the secular confrontation between the
Christian kingdoms of the north and the Muslims of Al-Andalus,
the kingdom of Alfonso VI was particularly significant: the Christian
armies finally won important cities south of the Duero (Salamanca,
Ávila, Segovia, Sepúlveda) as well as Toledo.
These were the last two decades of the 11th century, the time of El Cid. They were warlike times, of great insecurity, so that in Ávila everything relating to war enjoyed the utmost prestige. It is worth bearing in mind that the Muslims were still relatively close and made sporadic counter-attacks (in 1109 they recaptured nearby Talavera).