Avila

 
Avila is the only city in Spain to have completely intact city walls. The city was named in the 5th century BC--the name means "high mountain". Took a train up rolling, then saw-toothed hills to get here. Didn't realize it's over 3,600 ft--average temp is 60s in the summer, 30s in winter. Dressed for the high 90s of Madrid, this was less than comfortable.
Alcazar Gate. The city sprawls seamlessly on both sides of the walls--they give the impression of being infill. I came to Avila because of my favorite Christian saint, Teresa of Avila. Born in Avila in 1515, she taught, traveled, founded the reformed Carmelite order, wrote books, built convents, raised funds...accomplished an implausible lot. Her book The Interior Castle describes seven spiritual states as best she can in metaphoric language. The states correspond to the seven spinal centers described in Revelations--although she could not have known, she uses the same metaphor for withdrawing awareness from the senses to become aware of the Divine with as does Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita--a turtle pulling its limbs into its shell. The town did indeed have an aura of deep peace. The cars and clutter seemed a surface flaw that could be swept away with a brush of the hand.
Countryside just outside the walls. 
The cathedral celebrated its first millenium in 1991.  I didn't get any pictures of St. Teresa's convent. The outside of the building is rather drab and lumpy, it's off an alley beside another large stone church, and there's no photography inside. The nuns' cells ringed the outside, each about the size of a closet with a bed and tiny writing table and no chair. The only windows were near the top of each cell, near ground-level outside. St Teresa wrote kneeling in front of a table. Arched cement ceilings set with sideways-facing bricks were beautiful, but the whole interior was very dim. Some letters and writings by her contemporaries were on display. One was a thank-you to relatives in the U.S. who had contributed to building the convent--guess she did the fund-raising as well.
Storks. (It's a Catholic country, right?)
Had to try the fried milk.
Barcelona