Segovia, spread out on rocky hills, is the capital of the Spanish province of the same name, famous for its ancient castles, beautiful cathedrals and museums.
Who and why goes to Segovia
Segovia is an ancient city with outstanding architectural monuments. Its historical heritage is under the protection of UNESCO and protected by law.
Tourists can walk along the narrow streets here, see the Alcazar Royal Palace, the ancient aqueduct and city walls built a thousand years ago. It is useful to combine sightseeing with excursions in the surroundings, a three-hour flight in a hot air balloon or karting.
Segovia has its own interesting and beautiful holidays:
- In summer, locals celebrate San Juan. On the night of June 23-24, bonfires are lit in the city, mass celebrations are held.
- The next day, a fair starts where you can buy farm products, clothes, souvenirs.
- In September, the day of Our Lady of Fuensila, the patroness of Segovia, is celebrated on a grand scale. For 9 whole days, festive services are held in churches, and the authorities arrange solemn events and concerts.
In the gardens and parks of Segovia, it is easy to hide from the heat of the day and have fun. In the shade, fountains, cafes, benches, playgrounds and roller tracks are installed. For family walks, the Merced, Paseo del Salon and Parque San Agustin are suitable.
Numerous restaurants in Segovia attract the most demanding gourmets. The town’s signature dish is cochinillo asado, roasted pig. In addition, boiled octopus with paprika and olives, scrambled eggs with potatoes and onions, as well as spicy sausages and jamon are popular.
Interesting places and historical sights
Plaza de Mayor
The main square — Plaza de Mayor — is located in the historical part of the city. It is surrounded by magnificent mansions of the 15th-20th centuries, including the city hall building, the Gothic temple of the «Lady of the Cathedrals», the La Taberna Rubi tavern, opened in 1861, antique shops, souvenir shops.
The area is used for fairs, festivals, celebrations. The rest of the time people come here to admire the architectural monuments, buy souvenirs and try traditional national dishes in restaurants.
The ancient Roman aqueduct is made of granite blocks and bricks without the use of cement. In total, the structure includes 167 single and double arches supported by columns. The total length of the aqueduct, stretching from the surrounding mountains, is 17 km, the maximum height is 28 meters.
The building, which runs through the city center, was the main source of water until the middle of the 19th century. Later, other methods of its supply began to be used, but the aqueduct, erected in 81-96. AD, remains an important symbol of Segovia.
Walls of Segovia
The walls surrounding the city are an outstanding architectural monument of the 11th-12th centuries. Their total length is 2250 meters, the average height is 9 meters, and the thickness of the brickwork is 2.5. Some parts of the wall were destroyed during medieval wars. To this day, sections over the Eresme River, the gates of San Sebrian and Puerta de Santiago, two round and one rectangular watchtowers have been well preserved.
The public garden within the Old Town, named after the Monastery of Mercy, is a popular walking area. Two hundred years ago, local authorities allocated land here for the rest of the townspeople, planted it with coniferous and deciduous trees, paved paths, set up benches and lanterns. A large fountain flaunts in the center, nearby there is a playground with slides and carousels, sports equipment for adults, cafes and restaurants of national cuisine.
At the confluence of two rivers, an impregnable fortress, built a thousand years ago, rises on a rocky cliff. In different years it was used as a royal palace, a prison, a military academy. The complex has a characteristic shape resembling the prow of a huge ship and consists of a castle, a courtyard, a drawbridge and a moat.
Inside there are state chambers, living rooms and a chapel. Tourists can see the Throne Room, the Royal Chamber, the Armory, the Belt room. The visitors are presented with multi-colored stained-glass windows, coats of arms of Castile and Leon, statues of kings and paintings. On the territory of the Alcazar there is an archive and a museum of the artillery school.
The 15th-century castle, erected by order of the Archbishop of Seville, is an excellent example of the Mudéjar architectural style, in which Moorish, Gothic and Renaissance features are harmoniously intertwined. The fortification in the suburbs of Segovia is surrounded by fortified walls 2.5 meters high. For protection there are gates, polygonal corner towers, a dry moat and a bridge. The castle belongs to Spanish aristocrats from the Alba family.
House of Juan Bravo
Not far from the Plaza de Mayor stands a Renaissance mansion built in the 15th century. The building, which belonged to Juan de la Jos, is built of granite slabs and is decorated with an elegant balcony. Above the central gate is the coat of arms of the owners of the house. Inside, the interior is preserved, illustrating the life of medieval Spanish aristocrats. The central halls are occupied by an exhibition of the Segovia Art School.
Puerta de Santiago
The Puerta de Santiago is part of the medieval fortifications. In their appearance, Arab features can be traced, which give the structure an impressive appearance. The high stone tower with loophole windows has a horseshoe-shaped arch through which you can enter the city.
The gate has been restored by the Castile Historical Heritage Foundation and is included in the main tour route. Inside is the Francisco Peralta puppet museum.
In the vicinity of Segovia stands the castle-palace of the Dukes of Albuquerque, founded in the XI century. The imposing fortress with a massive round tower is framed by battlements. During its existence, it has never been subjected to enemy siege, so it avoided looting and destruction. At the beginning of the last century, behind the strong gates there was a prison, then a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients. Now Cuellar has been restored and welcomes tourists.
Temples and monasteries
The Roman Catholic Gothic cathedral on the central square was built in the middle of the 16th century and is dedicated to the Mother of God. The building with a large dome and numerous pointed turrets impresses with its size and beauty. The main facade is decorated with thin openwork windows, stained-glass windows, and sculptures.
The 18 chapels of the cathedral contain unique Christian relics, valuable paintings, statues and early printed books. In the crypt lies the Castilian hermit Saint Fruit, considered the patron saint of Segovia.
Church of San Esteban
The 12th century church located in the historic center is a popular attraction. It was built in the Spanish Romanesque style, which features thick walls, corner vaults, semicircular and pointed arches, and small windows. The attention of tourists is attracted by a high square tower, which in ancient times combined religious and defensive functions. The inner vaults of the church are decorated with paintings, and along the walls there are stone sculptures of saints.
Templar Church La Vera Cruz
A small temple built by the Knights Templar in the 12th century is a classic example of Romanesque architecture. After the expulsion of the crusaders, representatives of the Order of Malta took possession of it. The knights revived the temple and made it a stronghold of the Catholic Church in Catalonia and Leon.
Now La Vera Cruz is a museum object of national heritage. Inside, an ancient oriental-style altar, stone statues, multi-colored frescoes are stored. On church holidays, services are held in the temple with the participation of the knights of the Order of Malta.
Monastery of Santa Maria del Parral
The monastery for the monks of the Order of Saint Jerome opened its doors in the 15th century. The complex, founded by King Henry IV of Castile, includes a Romanesque Catholic church, monks’ cells, a courtyard and a garden. There are organized tours around the monastery. Tourists can plunge into the life of medieval monks, see church relics, old paintings and sculptures of saints.
Historical Museum of Segovia
The museum, which opened in 1842, consists of ethnographic, archaeological and artistic exhibits. Visitors are shown finds from the Bronze and Iron Ages: tools, pottery, fabric samples, Celtyberian weapons.
Permanent exhibitions illuminate the life of ordinary people — from the Roman, Visigothic, Islamic era and ending with the present. Tourists study the bas-reliefs, statues, paintings of Castilian and Flemish artists. A separate exhibition tells about important stages in the development of the city and presents drawings, documents and photographs.
Museum of Contemporary Art Esteban Vicente
The museum dedicated to Esteban Vicente contains a large collection of works by an artist belonging to the generation of the New York School of Abstract Impressionism. The exhibition is based on 153 works of art donated to the museum by the author.
Among them are watercolor drawings, oil paintings, collages, marble sculptures, lithography. The exhibits cover different periods of the master’s work and help to understand the inner world of Esteban Vicente.
In the 16th century, the first mechanized mint in Spain was built in Segovia. The complex, located on the banks of the Eresm River, consists of a coin factory, equipment rooms, and administrative buildings. Today, the mint is a museum that tells about minting money using a hydraulic system and other equally interesting ways.
After the tour, tourists are happy to enter the cozy garden, planted in the courtyard for King Philip II, and relax in the shade of centuries-old trees.
Rodera Robles Museum
The museum, managed by the Rodera Robles Foundation, is located in the 16th century Casa del Hidalgo. The spacious halls display paintings by local artists: Nunez Losada, Eduardo Vicente, Nunez de Celis, the Zubiaurre brothers, Rafael Peñuelas. The museum has a department of printing and engraving, which tells about the first printing house in Spain, and exhibitions about graphic design.
La Granja de San Ildefonso
Between Madrid and Segovia is the royal palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso. The summer residence, built by order of Philip V, resembles a small Versailles and is distinguished by the splendor of the interior.
The architectural complex is surrounded by magnificent gardens, which are considered the standard of 18th century park architecture. Here you can see even lawns, figured compositions of shrubs, flower beds planted in different colors. The main decoration of the park is sculptural fountains illustrating scenes from classical mythology.