Attractions in Segovia, Spain

by Robert Morello Google

Segovia is an ancient city and UNESCO World Heritage Site with origins dating back before the Romans. High on a mountain ridge just over 50 miles to the north of Spain's capital of Madrid, Segovia is reachable by car or train from Madrid in less than an hour. The city was occupied during Spain's period of Moorish rule, which lasted from the 8th to the 12th centuries, and displays its Celtic, ancient Roman, Moorish, Medieval and Gothic Spanish influences in its architecture and design.

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Roman Segovia

Segovia is easily identified by its Roman aqueduct, which appears on the official city crest. The aqueduct spans over nine miles and has been bringing water from the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains to the city for many centuries. The 95-foot-tall aqueduct is similar in form to many Roman aqueducts. Its two levels of classic arches adorn and provide strength to the structure, which is topped by an enclosed square-shaped tunnel through which water is channeled from its source to its destination. The structure remains intact and in working order despite the fact that it was built without the use of mortar, and relies only on the precise cut and fit of its stones to hold it together. The aqueduct can be viewed free of charge at any time.

Alcazar

The Alcazar, or royal residence in Arabic, sits on a hilltop over Segovia with its medieval turrets, moat and drawbridge, and cone-topped towers reminiscent of a story-book castle. The location has served as a royal residence of one form or another since before the Romans. The castle has Celtic foundations and was the site of a fortress used as a royal residence by the Moors from the 8th to the 12th centuries. It became a Spanish royal residence in the early 12th century, and was also the site of Queen Isabella's coronation in the 15th century. Reconstructed after a fire in 1882, the castle is now home to the Spanish Military Archives. At the time of publication entry fees were around $6.

Religious Attractions

Segovia's Gothic Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion was constructed in the 16th century. The church stands at the center of the city in its Plaza Mayor as the last Gothic cathedral to be consecrated in all of Europe in 1768. The church is home to the remains of Segovia's patron Saint Fructus, who lived and died in the 8th century. According to Los Angeles Times columnist Jerry Haines, the cathedral also serves as a nesting place for storks, which you can see flying home to the roof towers in the evenings. Several other churches of significance in Segovia date as far back as the 11th century, including San Juan de Los Caballeros, which now serves as a museum of ceramics; San Justo with its Romanesque architecture and noted artwork; and Vera Cruz Church built by the Knights Templar, which reveals hints of Muslim influence.

Museums

Segovia is home to a wide array of small museums, each holding collections devoted to specific artistic or historical genres. The Museum of Segovia consists of six rooms in a former slaughterhouse, which now display exhibits about the local natural history, the Roman era, coins, mosaics and religious art. The Door of Saint Andres museum occupies the disused guard rooms of the old city walls and displays information about them. The Didactic Center of the Jewish Quarter stands as a monument to the Jewish people, whose influence has been a part of Spanish culture for centuries. The Jewish Cemetery or "El Pinarillo" is a good resource for those interested in the history of Spanish Jews. At the time of publication, rates for all three museums were around $2.

Galleries

Art galleries are located throughout the center of the city occupying centuries-old buildings and homes that have been converted into spaces for art viewing. The Tower of Lozoya was part of a fort which dated to the 14th century and the 16th-century Alhondiga was once the city's grain storehouse. The Casa del Siglo XV and the Casa de los Picos are both former homes which date to the 15th century. All of these structures are well preserved and in use as art galleries. Hours may vary by gallery and season, but all are open to the public when exhibitions are scheduled.

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