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Address Palacio de los Verdugo
C/ Lope Nuñez, 4
05001 Ávila (Ávila)
Concejalía de Patrimonio
 
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What is each part called?

The architecture of the walls of Ávila has evolved with the ins and outs of siege warfare (the construction of fortresses, bastions and fortifications), depending on the defence requirements of the day. This has given rise to a long list of terms. The following is a glossary of elements that exist or have existed in the defence of Ávila, together with images of where they can be seen.

Allure. Walkway on top of a defence wall or other kind of fortification that is protected on one side by a crenelated parapet and allows defending soldiers to move quickly when fighting or keeping watch over attacking soldiers.

Coping. Small double-sided roof that protects the merlon from rainwater.

Alcazar. Fortified enclosure that is also used as a royal seat or the lord's residence.

Crenel. The space between two merlons. With the use of artillery in military campaigns, they began to be known as embrasures and were used for positioning the ends of the cannons.

Loophole. An opening in the walls used for defence, a forerunner of the embrasure. It is normally wider on the outside and the wider section is referred to as the flare. The flare has two different elements, which are referred to as the vertical flare and the horizontal flare.

Barbican. Separate, advance construction for defending and keeping watch on an entrance, pass, bridge or gate.

Hoarding. Wooden structure attached to towers and wall faces using modillions (corbels) and putlog holes. Usually covered by a roof, the front and bottoms had loopholes so that missiles could be fired vertically. The hoarding was the forerunner to the machicolation.

Turret. Any tower and, in particular, one with a circular section. It was used to flank the defence and the fortification itself, acting as an outwork.

Bartizan. Forerunner to the loopholed bartizan of the 16th century. It is a sentry box usually positioned on the corners or in the middle of a wall. It has a cylindrical shape and stands on a support or on corbels. It overhangs the parapet above the allure.

Moat. This defence construction consists of a natural or man-made canal that surrounds the fortress on at least one of its flanks, preventing direct access to the defence, hindering trenches and mines and increasing the relative height of the castle's barriers from its exterior footings.

Loopholed bartizan. Small, hollow sentry box with loopholes and a roof.

Brattice. Defence construction that overhangs outside the parapet like a gallery. It has loopholes in the floor for vertical attack and is usually positioned above entrances for their defence.

Wall. Walls, wall face.

Aisle. The space between the outer wall or barrier and the castle.

Machicolation. Overhang at the top of a tower, wall or any other fortification, used to keep watch over and attack the enemy from a safe position. The holes at the bottom could be used to launch missiles against the attackers who were at the footings.

Corbel. A support for other constructions. Its overhang is always greater than its height.

Merlon. This is the small protrusion on top of many fortifications that provides defending soldiers with protection from enemy attacks.

Wicket gate. Small walkthrough door that is part of a larger door.

Postern. Back door that is usually raised from the ground and not easily reached. It was used as a false door for getting in and out in the event of a siege.

Arrow loop. Open space in the walls, usually flared on the inside, but not vertically, and used by archers and crossbowmen. It differs from the loophole in that the latter usually has an outer vertical and horizontal flare.

Tambour. Cylindrical tower or turret. Normally used in reference to short, wide towers.

Donjon. Large tower. This is used in reference to a tower that is larger than the others in a castle, e.g. the keep.

Keep. The largest tower in the fortress that usually held the main rooms.

Embrasure. Small space in the walls used to shoot firearms. It is found with different shapes, depending on the period and the use it was given. The most typical is a cross shape above a circle (cross-and-orb) or an inverted lock shape. The space above the orb was used to point the weapons. Other shapes include slits and rectangles, etc.

Gun ports. Positioned between wide crenels in the second decade of the 16th century.