The Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes was founded by King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile to commemorate both the birth of their son, Prince John, and their victory at the Battle of Toro (1476) over the army of Afonso V of Portugal. Toledo was chosen as the site for building the monastery due to its central geographic location and because it had been the capital of the ancient Visigoth kingdom, symbolically reconstituted by Isabella and Ferdinand with the restoration of the lost unity of Spain, through the union of Castile with Aragon.
The monastery's construction began in 1477 following plans drawn by architect Juan Guas, and was completed in 1504. It was dedicated to Saint John the Evangelist for use by Franciscan friars. In 1809 the monastery was badly damaged by Napoleon's troops during their occupation of Toledo, and abandoned in 1835. Restoration began in 1883 but was not completed until 1967. The monastery was restored to the Franciscan order in 1954.
The monastery is an example of Gothic style with Spanish and Flemish influences. Its church is in the form of a Latin cross, with short arms, an elongated nave and side chapels situated between the domed arches – three chapels on either side of the nave, and two more under the choir. The church is notable for its decoration of the coats of arms of the Catholic Monarchs held by eagles. Its chancel is decorated with an altar (mid-16th century) from the former Santa Cruz Hospital by sculptor Felipe Bigarny and painter Francisco de Comontes, depicting scenes from the Passion and the Resurrection, as well as two scenes of the Santa Cruz legend.
Its cloister has a small garden. The ground floor's ceiling is formed of German cross vaults set with figures of saints interspersed with animal and plant motifs, all created by the Toledo sculptor Cecilio Béjar in the 20th century. Its upper cloisters, first completed in 1526 and restored in the 19th century, contain Mudéjar ornamentation, including a ceiling of larch wood, painted with the motifs and coats of arms of the Catholic Monarchs. To symbolize the victory of the Christians in the years-long Granada campaign, its granite exterior facade is festooned, as per the Queen's order of 1494, with the manacles and shackles worn by Christian prisoners from Granada held by the Moors and released during the Reconquista.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.