1st Trip to Segovia
Today was a national holiday in Spain so we all had the day off. We took advantage of that fact and drove to Segovia for the day. It is only about 48 miles from our home. When we left, it was a cloudy, cold day. When we turned off of the main road to go north, we found ourselves climbing into the mountains. We started at about 1,100 or 1,200 meters. We ended up climbing to 1,880 meters. That was something close to 4,000 feet in altitude.
At the summit was a ski town, Puerto de Navacerrada. The town sort of had a Bavarian feel to it. There was a little bit of snow; however, it was no where near enough to ski on.
The forest on both sides of the pass looked and awful lot like the forests in Colorado. The Segovia side of the pass was loaded with switchback turns. When we got to the bottom of the pass we were only about eight kilometers from Segovia.
We drove on into town and found a parking space. The garage was very interesting. Above each parking place was an LED light. If the space was vacant the light was green. If a car was in the space the light was red.
We walked up out of the garage and walked around the corner. As soon as we came around the corner we saw the aqueduct. It is an impressive and imposing sight. At nearly 95 feet, its tallest point it is equivalent to a five or six story building. This Roman aqueduct was built in the latter part of the first century. It is considered the most important Roman artifact in Spain. The aqueduct is approximately one-half mile in length. Up until 1884, the aqueduct carried water from the Sierra de Riofrio.
We walked into the main square, the Plaza del Azoguejo. That is where the main tourist information shop is located. There were very few people. As has become our tradition, we found a little place to have some coffee and a pastry. When we finished, we walked over to the tourist office. Then we began our hike through the city.
We climbed up many stairs to get near the top of the aqueduct. From there we walked down one of the main streets inside the walls of the city. As we walked along, we noticed one of the things for which Segovia is renown, its unique building facades. There seems to be an unending number of patterns used on each building. In the tourist information shop they even sell books on the various patterns.
As we continued our walk, we came across the Arias Davila Tower. This is located at the Plaza de los Huertos. In the 15th century, the Arias Davila family built a palace. The tower is all that is left of that structure. A unique facade pattern is visible in the tower as well.
From the tower we made our way to the Plaza Mayor and our first view of the Cathedral. We went inside the Cathedral. It was huge. The ceiling was 50 or 60 feet tall, or maybe even higher. The construction of this wonderful Cathedral was begun in 1136. It was actually completed in the late 16th century. Four to five hundred years of construction is just unheard of in our world today. Regardless, like so many of the churches and Cathedrals in Europe, it is worth a visit just to see the works of art and the intricate decorations.
Departing the Cathedral, we continued down one of the main shopping streets, Marques del Arco. We chose that direction because it ultimately led to the Alcazar, one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Segovia. The street has numerous gift shops. In addition, there are quite a few artisan shops.
Soon we found ourselves at the Alcazar. This is a castle. It is rumored that this is the castle that inspired Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. I was not able to confirm that. This is the first castle in Europe that we have toured as a family. This castle is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is easy to see why. The castle was really spectacular. One of the first sights we encountered was the moat and drawbridge. The moat was really just a deep, deep pit. The castle itself is built on a point of cliffs. After walking around it was easy to see just how impossible it would have been to attack and capture the castle.
In the first room of the tour (self-guided), there are several suits of armor on display. Included in the display are a few of the suits of armor worn by the horses. From there, one makes their way to the Throne Room. This is a reproduction of the throne room used by the Catholic Monarchs. It was used for royal audiences. Immediately after the Throne Room is the Sala de la Galera. The ceiling and the paintings in this room are incredible.
The armory has several suits of armor, cannon, swords and other weapons on display. It opens up onto the Patio del Reloj, the Watch Patio. That is so named because of the sun dial on the side of the castle.
Moving from there to the Patio de Armas, one can easily see the Juan II tower. We did not tour the tower.
Leaving the Alcazar, we wound our way back through town, to the car and home.
Segovia is rich in heritage and well worth the visit.