Across the bridge in Avila and following the road as far as the shrine of the Four Pillars, seeking this intimate, magic moment in which the city is lit up, with the city wall in the foreground, and the sky of Ávila turns from blue to black in an unforgettable experience. Viewed from here, tourists can see the Cabalistic structure of Ávila, the Jerusalem of Castile as it was christened by the poet Avner Pérez, and the interior castle of Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada.
The St. Teresa Convent is located on the streets of Via de la Dama, allowing access to the square where the convent of La Santa is located. This monastic foundation was assembled over what used to be the house where Teresa de Jesús was born, a top writer on Spanish Golden Century literature and Christian mysticism. Teresa was a judeoconverso, a jew that converted to catholicism, because she is closely related to a family of new Christians in Toledo. The Convent of St. Teresa was built between 1629 and 1636, with a magnificent example of the Carmelite style. Underground, there is a Santa Teresa Museum that contains pieces which are still relatively unknown to the general public and are extremely valuable. On the other side of the Santa gate, the Mysticism Interpretation Centre is organised into four rooms, each corresponing to the three universal elements established by Saint Catherine of Siena: being by yourself, being with God, and being with the world, as well as a fourth being identified with tradition. The Hebrew origin of Saint Teresa of Jesus or of Saint John of the Cross, both suffering with some problems when they started to practice their faith, shows how conversion was actually an option accepted by part of the Jewish community.
Out of the numerous Jewish communities in Spain, the Juderia of Avila plays a special role in the history of Spanish Jewish rights. The Jews of Sevilla were not subjected to a great deal of discriminatory behaviors unlike their brothers in other cities. They served the city as being distributors of fine clothing and other textiles. However, despite this good fortune, the Jewish quarter itself had not stood the test of time. There are few traces of this community but what has been remembered through documents and records has been identified and preserved. The building where the Rebbe’s house once stood has since been converted into a hotel. However, the latest victory has been the unearthing of the local medieval Jewish cemetery just outside the 11th century walls of the city!
Despite claiming the title of having the most Roman and Gothic churches per capita in Spain, Avila's Jewish presence documents as far back as the 12th century. But, according to myth Jews were among the founders of the city. The great Basilica of San Vicente is believed to have been built by a Jew in the 4th century. Since then the Jews had a strong presence in Avila - as known artisans and members of the king's court. Visit Avila to get your fill of amazing architecture or come during the Holy Week festival to see amazing art and the procession of Christian fraternities. Famous personalities: Moses of Leon (1240-1305)