San Vicente Basilica

Ávila, Spain

Outside the city walls, the Basilica of San Vicente was built in Caleno granite in a way that was greatly conditioned by the lie of the land and in the place where tradition situates the martyrdom and burial of Vincent, Sabina and Cristeta. It is the prime model of the Romanesque style in Ávila and its measured proportions make it a unique example of the Hispanic Romanesque style. With its outside influences and the influence of the cathedral construction, it is also the propagator of the style in the town.

It has a Latin-cross layout with three six-section naves and one transept. Interestingly, it also has a Gothic clerestory on the side naves. The narrow upper end, with its three apses, stands on a liturgical funeral crypt.

The construction began around 1120 with the building of the main body up to the west entrance; the towers and narthex of the entrance were built between 1150 and 1170 and the side naves were closed off with depressed quarter-barrel vaults; a ribbed vault was built above the central nave in Gothic style. The apse was covered with an octagonal vault halfway through the 13th century.

The storiated capitals of the main chapel, the cenotaph of the saints (by Fruchel and dating from the mid-12th century), showing the arrest, sentencing and martyrdom of Saints Vincent, Sabina and Cristeta, the west porch and the southern cornice stand as the best examples of Romanesque sculpture in the church and also in the town. The porticoed gallery was built on the south front in the 15th century.

San Vicente was the first Spanish building to be restored in historicist style, with work by Hernández Callejo, Vicente Miranda and, above all, Repullés y Vargas from the mid-19th century to the first quarter of the 20th century.The crypt boasts a statue of the Madonna of La Soterraña (15th century), which was venerated by St Teresa of Jesus.

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Founded: c. 1120
Category: Religious sites in Spain

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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Angel Machon (13 months ago)
Better than the cathedral!
Professional Karisma (17 months ago)
Important place for Saint Therese!
Oleg Naumov (2 years ago)
This is splendid monument of Romanesque medieval architecture and culture of Castile and Leon built in XII century on the place of martyrdom of Saint Vincent and his sisters Saint Sabina and Saint Cristeta. Splendid sepulcher of three Martyrs, San Vicente and his sisters. Splendid sepulcher reliquary for preservation of Martyrs was made in XII century and and still preserves its original polychrome colors. Visitors are allowed to take non commercial photo without flash light. Must see place at Avila.
Helena Sunny (3 years ago)
A beautiful piece of architecture. Built between 11th and 12th century. Basilica San Vicente is located near the entrance of Avila outside the City Walls. Constructed with Romanesque style with some Gothic influences, it is a Church with lots of intriguing historic stories. We didn't go in due to tight schedules, nonetheless it was quite Eye-catching, I couldn't help but stopped to snap a shot.
Andrew Dubarry (3 years ago)
Full of history and architecture...another place well worth the visit on your own and not a tour as time is need to really explore
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Medieval Walls of Avila

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.