Santa Maria Maggiore church is an example of First Romanesque art. It includes the oldest cross vaults in Italy.
The oldest document mentioning the basilica is a privilege by pope Paschal II, dated 22 August 1107. Archaeological studies showed that at least two churches existed in the site before the current one, the earliest one being perhaps contemporary to the annexed baptistery of San Giovanni ad Fontes (c. 5th-7th centuries). The basilica has a nave and two aisles with a lower transept. The façade was originally embedded in the city's walls, but later the first three bays were abandoned and a new façade was obtained by closing one of the internal arches with a new wall.
The nave is characterized by arches which, at the sides, have double mullioned windows at the sides. The pillars which do not support the arches are prolonged by blind columns up to the clerestory. The longitudinal arches (those separating the nave from the aisles) are supported by semicolumns which form the pillars. The aisles are a 14th-century reconstruction of the original ones. In 1944 a crypt, perhaps unfinished, was discovered.
Adejacent to the basilica is the nearly coeval Baptistery of San Giovanni ad Fontes.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.