Catedral del Salvador

Top choice in Ávila

Ávila's 12th-century cathedral is both a house of worship and an ingenious fortress: its stout granite apse forms the central bulwark in the historic city walls. The sombre, Gothic-style facade conceals a magnificent interior with an exquisite early-16th-century altar frieze showing the life of Jesus, plus Renaissance-era carved choir stalls. There is also a museum with an El Greco painting and a splendid silver monstrance by Juan de Arfe. (Push the buttons to illuminate the altar and the choir stalls.)

The cathedral was the first Gothic church in Spain; the famous altar frieze of 24 paintings was completed by Juan de Borgoña in 1515, the year of Santa Teresa's birth. Above, the stunning ochre-stained limestone columns and cantilevered ceilings in the side aisles produce an effect unlike any other cathedral in the country.

Don't miss the climb to the summit of the bell tower.