Project Description

Segovia rises on a hill between the rivers Eresma and Clamores. In addition to its famous aqueduct registered as a World Heritage Site, it has many Romanesque churches, a cathedral and a fortress that give it a majestic silhouette overlooking the Castilian lands. Moreover, Segovia is an excellent starting point for exploring the province and visit, for instance, the Palace of La Granja or the Natural Park of Duratón Gorges.

Following our visit of Avila the same morning, we arrive just after noon in Segovia where we will have the opportunity to eat something in addition to visit some of the most important monuments of the city. Still accompanied by a guide from Julia Travel, we arrive by bus right next to the city center. Our tour begins with an outside overview of the church of San Millán.

The church was built according to the model of the Cathedral of Jaca and has a tower that preserves the ruins of an ancient building of Mozarabic style. It is the model of all the Roman churches of Segovia, since it incorporates all typological characteristics such as Islamic influence, atriums replacing the arches and long steeples.

Then we continue our visit through the streets of Segovia. Following the paved road to San Nicolás street, we arrive on a quiet square where is located the church of the Santisima Trinidad, built in the middle of the 12th century on an ancient temple dating from the late 11th century.

This is one of the best preserved Roman temples in Segovia. Our tour include only the entrance to the cathedral and the Alcazar, therefore we are not going to visit the inside of the church. As we will discover later, it is a bit of a shame as churches and other temples are almost everywhere in Segovia. Sometimes, they are open to the public, sometimes some not, and when they are open, it is certainly due to a mass, which means it is not the best time to have a look inside!

After a few minutes of walking, we finally face the emblem of the city: the unique and prestigious Aqueduct of Segovia. This is one of the most important works that the Romans left as a legacy to the vast empire of Spain. It was built in order to bring water from the Sierra to Segovia.

The assumptions of its construction date back to the 1st century at the time of Flavian, but also at the time of Nerva and Trajan. Failure to date this monument does not prevent it to be at the top of the classification of the best works of Spanish civil engineering.

This extraordinary work in which harmony and beauty mingle, was useful to the city until recently. During the attack directed against Segovia in 1072 by the Muslim Al-Mamun from Toledo, 36 arches were damaged but were restored during the 15th century.

At its creation, two niches were built, probably to protect the pagan gods. Over time, these were replaced by images of Saint Sebastian and the Virgin, as ordered by the Catholic Monarchs. Under these niches was an inscription in bronze, in relation to its creation, where today is only a slight trace of it. Despite many conflicts, the Aqueduct has not been through too much restoration processes over the centuries.

Now some numbers about it. From its starting point in the Sierra de Guadarrama to its other end, the viaduct is nearly 15 km long. His arch spans at 958 meters, with a maximum height of 28.10 meters and has a total of 166 arches.

Major work of modern hydraulic engineering, arches were built with large stones of granite from Guadarrama, linked with each other by their own weight without mortar, with a perfect balance of power. Water was floating in the still existing channel in the top and through the city to get to the Alcázar. The aqueduct was declared “National Monument” in 1884 and “World Heritage Site” in 1985.

For our lunch break, we are freed of the group for an hour, the time for most of the people I’m travelling with to find a restaurant and, for me, to grab a sandwich in a nearby bakery and enjoy some sightseeing. So I climb onto one of the paths above the ancient city walls, just to get a better view of the aqueduct and its surroundings: the panorama is awesome!

I then walk the ancient streets towards the old town. Doing so, I pass next to the church of San Martin. It is characterized by its magnificent temple, of Castilian Romanesque style from the 12th century. Oh look over there; another pastry shop! Just give me a minute to buy myself a dessert, a local pastry, sweet and delicious!

I sit on a bench in a corner of the square and quietly enjoyed my meal while admiring the church and the Monument to Juan Bravo next to it. Castilian nobleman, he is known for his participation in the revolt of the comuneros. Also nearby is a bronze fountain topped by a statue of a giant fish surrounded by two children. I first thought a child was a newt, but upon closer inspection, this is not the case. Think I’ll have to change my glasses! Once my meal gone and my stomack full, I continue to climb the paved stone path that goes up and up without an end.

Segovia streets and alleys are clean and feel very welcoming, are sometimes crowded or empty, as long as you go away from the tourist places. Some souvenir shops, restaurants and grocery stores later, I finally see the domes of the cathedral at the end of a street. By following the few tourists who are going there as well, I finally set foot on the “Plaza Mayor” where lies, among other building, the City Hall.

I walk around the square, still covered by a few market stalls from an earlier morning market that day. I finally notice our guide waiting at the entrance to the cathedral. He gives me a ticket that I present to enter the building, because the entry fee is already included in the trip. This is followed by some freetime inside the cathedral for about 45 minutes.

Its full name is Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption and San Frutos. Of late Gothic style, the beginning of its construction dates back to 1525 but it was sacred only in 1768. The tower, one of the most striking elements (thanks to its height), was inhabited until the mid-20th century by the bell ringer and offers today a unique view of the city, but only during the few hours of access.

The interior is magnificent, especially with its beautiful stained glass windows dating from the 14th century, the choir stalls, which have preserved the gothic ceremony chairs of the old Cathedral, the Baroque organs of the 18th century, and the neoclassical back-choir retaining the urn with the relics of San Frutos.

After having quietly walked around the building, I take the opportunity to visit corridors of the nearby abbey. I take some pictures of the places sublimated with sunlight casting regular shadows forms between columns and also admire the cathedral tower from its base, realizing at that time its imposing height!

Our guided tour resumes at the exit of the cathedral. We pass again by very pretty cobbled streets and near the church of San Andres. Shortly after, we arrive in the beautifully designed Gardens of the Alcazar with the monument erected in honor of the heroes of the War of Independence Daoiz and Velarde, masterpiece of the Segovian sculptor Aniceto Marinas.

We are finally here, facing the main building of the Alcazar. Its silhouette is like an imaginary ship at the junction of the rivers Eresma and Clamores, standing out from the area of bluish and ocher colors, quite characteristical from the plain and the Sierra. A deep ditch, overhung by a drawbridge, leads the way on a fortress at a rather unusual location, which was certainly inhabited since Celtic times.

On the north side, we discover on one hand the tower of Alfonso X El Sabio, where the monarch watched the firmament, and also the Tower of Juan II, 80 meters high, with splendid sgraffito and twelve turrets adorning its shape.

The castle, built on the ruins of a Roman fortress, was successively transformed from the reign of Alfonso VI (11th century) to Felipe II (16th century). Transformed into an Alcázar, royal residence in the 13th century, it acquires its Gothic appearance in the time of Juan II and Henry IV. It then served as a state prison during the 18th century and became the Royal Artillery School in 1764. Following a serious fire in 1862, which fortunately miss to destroyed it completely, a long and extensive renovation was set. Work began in 1882 under the reign of Alfonso XII. Today, much of the building and rooms dedicated to Artillery History are open to the public.

In the enclosure and around the Patio del Reloj and the Patio de Armas lie different rooms. They are distinguished by their charm and decor and each of them is more beautiful than the previous one! These include the mullions room, the room of Galley (whose ceiling was recently redone), the Throne room (with its remarkable Mudejar ceiling), the Fireplace room, the room of Cordon, of las Piñas, the Royal Chamber, the Queen’s Bathroom Cabinet and finally, the Chapel. Of all these rooms emerges the Hall of Kings, with a ceiling decorated with gilded hexagonal diamonds, and an original frieze on which appear 52 colored images representing the Kings and Queens of Asturias, León and Castile, since Don Pelayo to Juana la Loca.

Large windows also allow us to admire the view, including a small hamlet at the foot of the hill and the Church of Vera Cruz right above it. It was founded by the Knights of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre in 1208, while popular tradition attributes its origin to the Templars. It has kept for years the relic of Lignum Crucis. Currently, it belongs to the Order of Malta.

The place is just beautiful and it is with regret that I must leave after about an hour, not without having made some interesting pictures. However, as I still have a little time before returning to the bus, I want to climb the tower at the top of which one can admire the stunning view of the city and the Pinarillo (with the Jewish cemetery), the Church of Vera Cruz, San Marcos and Zamarramala neighborhoods, and the quarry from which is partly extracted the stone that was used to build the Cathedral. A wonderful way to end this tour!

On the way back, we go through the Gate of San Andrés, in the former guardroom. In this building is an informative area in which is illustrated on placards the medieval walls that protects the upper part of the city. In addition, it is possible to access the walkway where you can contemplate the Jewish Quarter and the medieval military architecture in the city, such as the Jewish cemetery which extends to the end of Clamores valley. One last picture of the cathedral and we go back to Madrid after a wonderful tour of Segovia!