Castle of the Princes de Mérode, also called as 'old castle', has been the home of the House of Merode since more than five centuries. The central keep or Donjon was built in local brown stone in the 14th-century. It probably replaced an older fortress on the same spot. Other parts of the building date from the 16th century. The castle was adapted, extended and restorated several times. From the 16th century onwards it was transformed into a more luxurious noble dwelling and gradually lost its fortified character. Several restorations in the 19th century gave it back a more romantic medieval appearance.
The sumptuous interiors contain fine furniture, paintings, tapestries, and objects collected by the Merode family throughout the centuries. The most important rooms like the entrance hall, the knights hall, the large drawing room, the dining room and the chapel can be visited during the 'Kasteelfeesten' in the first weekend of July.
An English landscape park of 12 hectares surrounds the castle. The ponds in the park are connected with the moat of the castle. Across the Nete river there is a larger formal park (60 hectares) in the French tradition with a rectangular pond forming a large perspective. It was commissioned by Fieldmarshall Jean-Philippe-Eugène de Mérode-Westerloo at the beginning of the 18th century and was inspired by Versailles.References:
The city walls of Avila were built in the 11th century to protect the citizens from the Moors. They have been well maintained throughout the centuries and are now a major tourist attraction as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk around about half of the length of the walls.
The layout of the city is an even quadrilateral with a perimeter of 2,516 m. Its walls, which consist in part of stones already used in earlier constructions, have an average thickness of 3 m. Access to the city is afforded by nine gates of different periods; twin 20 m high towers, linked by a semi-circular arch, flank the oldest ones, Puerta de San Vicente and Puerta del Alcázar.