Old Town of Ávila (Ciudad Vieja de Ávila)
From its strategic perch of over 3,300 feet (1,000 meters), this austere medieval town protected the Spanish territories from the Moors. Construction of its massive walls was begun in 1090, and the fortifications include over 80 semicircular towers and 9 gates. These largely intact defenses created a granite landscape into which the city merged and from which it also emerged. The cathedral was built as an integral element of the embattled walls, while the town’s topography of churches, monasteries, and houses extends beyond the ramparts, creating an ensemble of medieval urbanism. This World Heritage city, like so many other urban centers in Spain and around the world, is faced with increased development pressures and limited land. New construction provides important services and infrastructure to a growing community, but encroaches upon the fortifications and alters historic streetscapes and viewsheds. The need for careful and integrated planning that provides for growth while protecting Ávila’s architectural heritage has never been more critical than now.