Only 30 minutes away from Madrid via high-speed train, Segovia is a charming city full of fascinating architecture and history. In fact, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage City in 1985 for this reason. Segovia contains splendid examples of Roman, Romanesque, and Gothic architecture, as well as a beautiful castle-fortress that dominates its skyline. Indeed, it is believed to be the inspiration for Walt Disney’s own fairy-tale castle.
Built over Roman and Arab fortifications to become the defensive stronghold and royal palace of the Castilian Kings, the city’s castle-fortress is known as the Alcázar of Segovia. Visitors will appreciate the fortress’ distinctive shape as well as its dramatic stone towers and slate spires. After a 19th century fire damaged the castle, it was slowly rebuilt and restored to its former glory. Fortunately, the Alcázar is now open to the public. Don’t miss the Throne Room, admiring some of the castle’s beautiful ceilings, or climbing to the top of the Tower of Juan II through a narrow circular staircase for a breathtaking view of Segovia! There you will see the Cathedral along with many more of Segovia’s historic buildings, but not, however, the aqueduct.
The aqueduct in Azoguejo Square — Photo courtesy of Manuel Gonzalez Olaechea y Franco
The Aqueduct of Segovia is a magnificent example of Roman engineering. Built in the 1st century AD from granite blocks and without mortar, the aqueduct stands (although portions have been rebuilt) with its principal facade dominating Segovia’s Azoguejo Square. So important is the aqueduct to the city’s identity that it is prominently featured on the city’s coat of arms.
While Segovia contains many historic churches and religious buildings, its most important is Segovia Cathedral, which was built in Gothic style in the 16th century and features attractive spires and stained glass. The cathedral is open to both the public and the faithful, who are free to admire the interior architecture, historic artwork, and elaborate chapels. At night, the exterior is well-illuminated, making for a dramatic sight; in fact, an evening walk past the cathedral provides a good opportunity to better admire many of its features.
While most of Segovia’s sights are contained within its old city walls, those walls are a draw in their own right. Constructed using granite blocks as well as old Roman gravestones, the old Segovia city walls have a total of eighty towers.
After all that sightseeing you will no doubt have worked up quite an appetite. For a unique culinary experience, look no further than a plate of roast suckling pig–Segovia’s most traditional main dish–which is served at a number of Segovia’s restaurants. Accompany it with slices of fresh baked bread and a glass of local wine for an unforgettable meal.
Both historic and beautiful, Segovia makes an excellent day trip from Madrid.