Ávila [äv′i lə]
city of central Spain, west of Madrid: pop. 45,000

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Á·vi·la (äʹvə-lə, äʹvē-lä)
A town of central Spain west-northwest of Madrid. It is a religious and tourist center. Population: 42,165.

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in full  Ávila de los Caballeros  
 city, capital of Ávila provincia (province), in the Castile–León (Castile-León) comunidad autónoma (autonomous community), central Spain. The city of Ávila is situated on the Adaja River at 3,715 feet (1,132 metres) above sea level and is surrounded by the lofty Sierra de Gredos (south) and the Sierra de Guadarrama (east). The city lies 72 miles (115 km) northwest of Madrid. A pre-Roman settlement on the site became part of Roman Lusitania and was known as Abula, or Avela, before falling (c. 714) to the Moors. It was recaptured for the Christians by Alfonso VI in 1085. Ávila's walls, in polygonal form and extending 8,202 feet (2,500 metres) in circumference, were built in the 12th century and encompassed the whole of ancient Ávila (the old town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985); the modern part of the city lies outside. With the expulsion of the Moriscos (people of Moorish descent) in 1607–10, the city's commerce declined.

      Ávila has been called the “finest medieval remnant in Spain” and is a noted tourist centre. Historic landmarks include the Gothic cathedral (begun c. 1091, completed 13th–15th century), in which the work of the goldsmith Juan de Arfe y Villafén (16th century) is preserved; the Convent of Santo Tomás (1482–93), containing the tombs of Tomás de Torquemada, who was the first grand inquisitor of Spain, and of Don Juan, the only son of Ferdinand and Isabella; the Romanesque basilica of San Vicente; and the Encarnación convent, built on the site of the house of the mystic St. Teresa, a native of Ávila.

      Commercial activities now include leather tanning, flour milling, liquor distilling, and the manufacture of soft drinks, meat by-products, and automobile parts. Some of Ávila's industries are linked with those of Madrid and Segovia. The service sector dominates the economy. Pop. (2006 est.) 52,563.

      provincia (province) in the Castile-León comunidad autónoma (autonomous community), central Spain, on the northern Meseta Central (plateau). Ávila is separated from Madrid province by the Sierra de Guadarrama to the east and from Toledo province by the Sierra de Gredos to the south. Agriculture predominates on the level ground in the north, but the soils are poor, relying on outwash from the central sierras. To the south, sierras rise steplike from the plateau to the Sierra de Gredos and are separated from each other by longitudinal valleys, the most important of which are Alberche, Adaja, and Tiétar.

 There is little industrial development, and agriculture predominates throughout the province. The raising of stock, especially of Merino sheep, is the principal activity; the forests, mostly pine, are still economically important in places. Wheat and barley, with and without irrigation, are increasing in acreage. Rye, oats, corn (maize), sugar beets, and tobacco are also grown. Modern methods have been widely adopted; production of cereals exceeds consumption, and a surplus is exported to other parts of Spain. Agricultural processing is largely confined to the provincial capital, Ávila, and the chief market is the town of Arévalo. The Tiétar and Alberche valleys produce wines of some repute; olive cultivation is confined to a few sheltered localities (e.g., Arenas de San Pedro and Cebreros) with very high yield. The sierras formerly abounded in game; the diminution of the ibex (wild goat) of the Sierra de Gredos led to the creation of an ibex sanctuary in 1905. Area 3,108 square miles (8,050 square km). Pop. (2007 est.) 168,638.

Vicente Rodriguez

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Universalium. 2010.

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