Of all Spanish cities probably the one with the most impressive location, situated on a rocky outcrop surrounded by 2 rivers, Río Eresma and the Río Clamores. Many visitors compare it to a warship sailing through the plains of Castilla with the Alcazar (Fortress) forming the prow, the pinnacles of the cathedral creating the mast and the aqueduct following like a rudder. In 1975 UNESCO made Segovia a World Heritage City and any visitor will see it’s honour rightfully deserved.
Segovia was occupied by Rome around 80BC and rose to prominence because of its strategic location and so located an important military base here. Many of its most known monuments have been left behind by the Romans including the 1st century AD aqueduct. With the Muslim invasion beginning in 711 Segovia became a frontline city until the Moors were defeated at the Battle of Toledo in 1085 thus leaving the city in Christian hands. The moors also left behind a thriving wool and textile industry which continued to all the way into the 16th century.
One of the leading kingdoms against the Moors was the Kingdom of Castile with their monarchy regularly choosing Segovia as a residence. In fact there most famous Queen, Isabel was proclaimed Queen there in 1474 at the Iglesia de San Miguel (Church of St. Michael).
As Spain’s fragmentation into independent states heated up in the 16th century with the War of the Communities Segovia’s decline began which was only revived with the growth of tourism in the 1960’s.
Constructed in the 1st century AD by Rome this incredible 728m (2400ft) long aqueduct, rising 29m (100ft), made of granite blocks is truly one of the cities highlights. Made up of 163 arches it was once part of an extraordinary construction that stretched in total 16km.
Probably most impressive is that not one drop of mortar was used in the construction with the whole structure being held together by the forces of tension and compression. So well-constructed is the aqueduct that it was still in use until the late 19th century
The War of the Communities saw Segovia’s Romanesque cathedral destroyed, yet only 50 years later in 1577 the present one was completed though it wasn’t consecrated until 1678. At that time the Gothic style was sweeping Spain and Segovia built one of the best, and last, examples of it
The interior is known for its impressive choir along with more than 20 chapels, most of which are enclosed in graceful ironwork grilles. One chapel which the Capilla del Christo del Consuelo contains a beautiful Romanesque doorway from the original church.
The Alcazar towers remind us a fairy tale castle complete with its pinnacle towers crowned with what looks like slated witches hats surrounded by a very deep moat are just a few of it features. Two rooms that are a must to see are the Sala de las Piñas (Pineapple Room) with its ceiling covered in 392 pineapple shaped stalactites and the Sala de los Reyes (Kings Room) featuring a frieze of 52 Kings who fought in the Reconquista. The name Alcazar derives from the Arabic “al-qasr” meaning castle.
Segovia is a must visit for any visitor to Spain, be it for history or just natural beauty.