Tag: Aqueduct

Last Time in Segovia

Last Time in Segovia

Segovia, Spain – May 13, 2012

We headed out today with Tio y Tia (uncle and aunt) to the beautiful city of Segovia, Spain. We arrived at about 10:00 and quickly made our way to la Criolla restaurant. It is right beside the aqueduct. We sat there and enjoyed a mixture of full breakfasts and pan con tomate (bread with a tomato sauce).

Sitting outside la Criolla, admiring the aqueduct, and waiting for coffee.
Still waiting for coffee.

It was apparent that the day would be something special. In the central plaza by the aqueduct, there was a merry go round. That is not normal.

With our appetites sated, we decided it was time to explore the town. We decided to climb the stairs in between the tourist information office and the aqueduct to get to the top of the old city wall. After several breaks, we made it to the top with no problems. From that point, we continued toward Plaza Mayor. When we arrived at the plaza, we saw several triangular banners throughout the square. On the banner, there was a large block of a capital “T.” Imposed on the T was a hand that appeared to have strings reaching down toward a small “t.” It reminded us of marionettes. Sure enough, as we walked through the plaza, we saw people setting up for the puppet shows that would follow shortly. The festival is known as Titirimundi. That explains the letter “T.”

Climbing the stairs near the aqueduct.

Many of the buildings in Segovia have textured facades. This is a very good example.
Lighting the way…

Along the way, we came across a traffic jam at a parking garage entry. The reason for the jam was that the entrance to the garage is by an elevator only. With the cars backed up, heaven help a driver who needed to exit at that time — an odd scene.

The queue to get into the parking garage.
Self-portrait while Aunt Ann patiently waits for the nut to be finished.
The initial view of the cathedral.
Plaza Mayor with the cathedral looming in the background.
Window shoppers at the Kukul store.
Detail of the Kukul sign.

We continued beyond the cathedral about a block or so and then began to double back.  From the south side of the plaza, we took the main commercial street, Calle Isabel la Católica.  It became increasingly crowded with people.  About halfway between the Plaza Mayor and the aqueduct, we came across one of the puppet shows.  The puppeteers sang and danced to well known American songs while moving their puppets.  We stood and watched them for several minutes.

A puppet show during the puppet festival.

From the puppet show, we resumed our journey toward the aqueduct. When we arrived at that plaza, Plaza del Azequeo, it bustled with people. Many booths and vendors filled the streets. Also, people were doing various forms of live entertainment. Directly under the aqueduct, there was a small four-piece band and several groups of women. The women wore some traditional costumes. We asked one group whether they had made their costumes or purchased them. Of course, they said they made them all by hand. They seemed to appreciate the fact that we showed genuine interest in their handiwork. They invited me to take a photograph of Leslie with the group.

Each of the groups of women had a sign that had various slogans and depictions of the Virgin Mary. They were preparing for a procession of some sort. We did not hang around to see.

The aqueduct as seen from Calle Cervantes.

A religious festival in progress.
One of the festival participants dancing to the music of the four-piece band.
An intricate headdress.
Leslie with some of her newfound friends.
Two festival participants stop to pose for photographs.

Back at the car, we set the GPS for San Ildefonso. We thought it would be an excellent idea to stop by the palace at la Granja and stroll through the gardens. I was very disappointed there were no flowers in the garden. That made our walk a little anti-climactic.

As soon as we finished our walk, we got back in the car and headed back home.

Some flowers (virtually the only ones we saw) near La Granja.

The Royal Gate entrance to La Granja.
A sculpture in the gardens of La Granja.
The Royal Palace at La Granja.
Segovia with the Monsignor

Segovia with the Monsignor

Segovia, Spain – September 10, 2010

Today I was able to visit Segovia with our favorite Monsignor. He is here visiting for several days. We could not have asked for a more perfect day.  It was not too hot and the sky was an amazing azure blue all day.

Going back to some of the same cities my family and I have visited allows me the opportunity to focus on different aspects of the city. On this particular visit to Segovia, I focused on the interior of the cathedral, different views of the Alcázar, and a new site, the Church of the True Cross (Iglesia de la Vera Cruz).

The Monsignor and I took the M-601 highway to Segovia. The city is only about 66 kilometers (41 miles) from our home. As we got into the mountains, we stopped a couple of times so the Monsignor could take some photos. At one of our stops, near a small stream, we were passed by several vintage Jaguars, Aston Martins, and Mercedes. There was obviously some sort of rally going the opposite direction.

When we arrived in Segovia, I parked in an underground lot. It is the most unique parking garage in that there are lights above each parking space. If the space is empty the light is green. If there is a vehicle in the space the light is red. There are blue lights for handicap spots.  The lights make it so easy to find a space.  Rather ingenious!

The cityscape near the aqueduct.
Monsignor Henry composing a shot of the aqueduct.
The view along the west side of the aqueduct.
Monsignor Henry was wondering why I was taking more photographs of him rather than the sites!
Several parts of the parapet near the aqueduct had names scrawled upon them.
The east side of the aqueduct.
Shadow-play on the side of one of the buildings along our route.
A car of the Guardia Civil. They are a military unit that handles police duties.
The Torreón de los Arias Dávila (Tower of Arias Dávila) dates from the mid-15th century.
A narrow building with beautiful flowers.
A local police motorscooter.

After walking through the city and taking numerous photos, we found ourselves at the cathedral. The full name of the cathedral is Santa Iglesia Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción y de San Frutos (Holy Cathedral Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and of St. Frutos).  The entrance fee to the cathedral is 3€ (US$3.66). The Monsignor paid the fees. We did not realize the ticket said photos are prohibited inside.  We had taken photos like there was no tomorrow! Oops!

The Cathedral of Segovia catching the morning light.
Monsignor Henry framing a photograph of the cathedral.
The main entrance to the cathedral.
Some fabrics for sale outside the cathedral.
An art piece in one of the side chapels.
Detail of an art piece in one of the side chapels.
The pipe organ.
The stone floor in the cathedral.
A statue in one of the side chapels.
The ceiling at one of the side chapels.
A burial stone on the northwest side of the cathedral dates from 1666.
Another nearby stone dates from 1669.
A small sculpture honoring Our Lady of the Assumption near the tops of the two northwest doors of the cathedral.
A partial view of the main altar.
Another of the many side chapels.
A statue of Jesus and St. Joseph.

Next, we made our way to the Alcázar. The Monsignor bought a ticket for himself that included the castle and the tower. Referring to my previous entry about Segovia, one knows for sure that my ticket was just for the castle! I went inside the castle and sat on a bench to wait for the Monsignor to enter.

Monsignor Henry and me in the mirror.
A sundial on the side of a building on Calle de Daoiz.
A stained-glass panel in the Alcázar.
Detail of one of the ceilings in the Alcázar.
Some homes below the north side of the Alcázar.
Detail of The Adoration of the Magi in the chapel of the Alcázar.
Detail of the Almohade Garden as seen from the Pit Terrace of the Alcázar.
Looking up at the Torre del Homenaje (Tower of Tribute).
Detail of the typical masonry on the exterior.

After leaving the Alcázar, we made our way back to the Plaza Mayor. We found a little café on the plaza, in the southeast corner. We both had a “sanwich mixto” which is a grilled ham and cheese. We left there and made our way back to the car.  On the way, I was able to take a photo of the Casa de los Picas, the best one I have ever taken.

The view toward the Alcázar from the Wall of Segovia.
A nun hanging laundry behind a property along Ronda de Don Juan II.
Detail of some spires on the cathedral.
The pause that refreshes.
The Casa de los Picos on Calle Juan Bravo in Segovia.
Descending Calle Cervantes toward the aqueduct.
An iconic view of the west side of the aqueduct.

Back in the car, I drove us to the Vera Cruz Church. It was built by the Knights Templar in the early 13th century. It is a unique, twelve-sided structure. The church was not open so we were not able to go inside. After taking several photos at Vera Cruz, I drove to the south side of the Alcázar. This was a view I had not seen before. The combination of the sun and the sky made for some striking photos.

The Alcázar as seen from below.
The Alcázar as seen from the Vera Cruz Church.
The Vera Cruz Church.
Detail of the stone cross.
An entrance to the church on one of the twelve sides. The iconic Maltese Cross is clearly visible.
Detail of the entrance door.
Detail of the Maltese Cross.
The western tip of the Alcázar.
The south side of the Alcázar.

From there we made our way to San Ildefonso.  Once there, we toured the palace and the gardens.  The day remained just as beautiful there as it had been earlier.

After the tours, we returned home.

The fountains seem to extend forever at the Royal Palace of La Granja.
Some sculptures at La Granja.
A portion of the garden at La Granja.
Some of the fountains step down from the hill.
A partial view of the southeast side of the palace.
Another of the many sculptures in the garden.
The Fuente de la Selva (Jungle Fountain).
Detail of the Neptune Fountain.
The garden at the palace.
The Fountain of Amphitrite, the wife of Poseidon.
Detail of the fountain.
Another view of the palace.
A man walking dogs near the palace.
Another Trip to Segovia

Another Trip to Segovia

Segovia, Spain – April 1, 2010

Leslie, my mom, dad, and I drove to Segovia earlier today.  We did encounter a little bit of snow in the area of Puerto de Navacerrada (possibly translated as Never-Closed Pass).  It lies at 1,860 meters (6,102 feet).  The bit of snow made for a beautiful scene.

After parking in a garage in Segovia, we began walking directly to the Alcázar de Segovia (fortified castle of Segovia) to tour the castle.  On the way, I paid particular attention to the façades of the buildings we passed.  For some reason, many of the buildings in the old town area of Segovia have decorative plaster façades.  With one possible exception, no pattern appeared to repeat.  So, on this trip, I took photographs of many of them.

The always awe-inspiring aqueduct in Segovia.
A view of Segovia from the old city wall.
A gate through the old city wall.
A portion of the old city wall.
A decorative building façade.
A decorative building façade II.
A decorative building façade III.
A decorative building façade IV.
A decorative building façade V.
A decorative building façade VI.
A small building with a decorative building façade.
A decorative building façade VII.
A decorative building façade VIII.
A small shop selling everything a tourist may need.
A decorative building façade IX.
A decorative building façade X.
A decorative building façade XI.
A decorative building façade XII.
A decorative building façade XIII.
A decorative building façade XIV.
A decorative building façade XV.

One of the most famous façades in Segovia is the Casa de los Picos (House of the Peaks).  The Picos are diamond-shaped blocks of stone that protrude from the facade of the building.  It was constructed in the 15th century by the Count of Fuensalida.

Possibly the most unique façade belongs to the Casa de los Picos (House of the Peaks).

Once at the Alcázar, since Leslie and I had not previously been in the tower, I made sure our tickets included admittance to both the tower and the palace.  At the time, I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.  The tower is a large rectangular structure situated in the center of the main façade of the Alcázar.  When we entered the tower, there was a fairly large and wide staircase that led one up about one floor.  Then we went through a small door that led to a stone, spiral staircase.  We found out later there are 152-stairs in that staircase.  On the way up we passed a couple of people coming down.  We had to suck up very close to the wall to let them pass.  Shortly after that encounter, we heard some young people coming down.  It sounded as though they were speaking French.  Regardless, it seemed like they would never stop coming down.  My dad counted 58 kids!  We thought we would never get to the top.

When we did get to the top, we were all tired.  We vowed we would never do that again!  We were all wishing there was an elevator in this 1120 structure.  So, even though the tower is quite large, all we saw was a staircase and a view from the top of the tower. I am not sure what else may be in the tower.

The royal crest at the gate to the Alcázar de Segovia (fortified castle). The sign reads, “Reigning Fernando VII Year of 1817.”
Some spring flowers in front of the Alcázar.
One of the towers of the Alcázar.
The opposite tower.
Decorative façade on the Alcázar.
A view from the Alcázar of the old city of Segovia.
A shield inside the Alcázar.

There are several suits of armor on display in the castle.  I can imagine they were heavy and quite uncomfortable to wear.  Although, being speared or being shot with an arrow would also be quite uncomfortable; so, I guess it was a good trade.  As small as the eye slits are, it is amazing the one wearing the suit could see.  Like anything, over time, one must have become used to the restraints and learned how to fight.

A suit of armor on display.
A suit of armor on display II.
A suit of armor on display III.
A suit of armor on display IV.
A worker polishing a suit of armor.
The remnants of some decorative paint.
A tapestry in the Alcázar.
A stained-glass window in the throne room depicts Henry IV (reigned 1454 to 1474). Note the human head under each of the hooves of the horse. That’s gonna leave a mark…
Reproductions of the thrones in the throne room.
The cupola in the throne room.
A suit of armor on display V.
Detail of a painting of the coronation of Isabel the Catholic of Castile.
Another stained-glass window in the throne room. Note the head and body under the horse.
Another of the tapestries on display.
Fellow woodworkers may find this chair interesting.
The bed in the royal chamber.
Detail of the Kings Room.
The statue seems to be dancing to an unheard tune.
Chairs and painting in the Kings Room.

During this tour of the Alcázar, much like I did on our walk to the castle, I concentrated on wall decoration and patterns.  Inside the Alcázar, there are numerous patterns.  Some are done in plaster and then painted, while others are done with tiles from the local area.  Much like the façades, they are very intricate and interesting.

Detail of the tile in the Cord Room.
Detail of a tapestry in the Cord Room.
Detail of some of the tile.
This retable (altarpiece) in the chapel dates from the first part of the 16th century.
Another style of the tile used.
Checking out the displays in the armory.
What a day for a knight!
A display in the armory.
The view to the north of the Alcázar. The Iglesia de la Vera Cruz (Church of the True Cross) is visible in the distance.
A plant growing into the wall of the Alcázar.
A local police car.
A local police van.
Detail of a water fountain in the Plaza de San Martín.
A photographer capturing just the right shot at the Church of San Martín. The church dates from 1117.
A young man posing for a photograph at the monument to Juan Bravo in the Plaza de Medina del Campo.
The San Martín Church.
The view toward the aqueduct from Calle Cervantes.
A decorative building façade XVI. The sign reads, “Carmen’s descent.”
Arch of La Fuencisla.
The view of the Alcázar from below.
1st Trip to Segovia

1st Trip to Segovia

Segovia, Spain – December 8, 2009

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 83 kilometers (52 miles) from our home.  When we left our home, it was a cloudy, cold day.  When we turned off the main road to go north on M-601, we found ourselves climbing into the mountains.  We started at about 1,000 meters (3,609 feet).  We ended up climbing to 1,880 meters (6,168 feet).

At the summit is a small ski area, Puerto de Navacerrada.  The town sort of had a Bavarian feel to it.  There was a little bit of snow; however, it was nowhere near enough on which to ski.

The forest on both sides of the pass looked an 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 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) from Segovia.

We drove on into Segovia and found a parking space.  The garage was very interesting.  Above each parking space 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 the stairs, out of the garage, and walked around the corner.  As soon as we came around the corner we saw the ancient Roman aqueduct for which Segovia is famous.  It is an impressive and imposing sight.  At nearly 29 meters (95 feet) at its tallest, it is equivalent to a five or six-story building.  This Roman aqueduct dates from the latter part of the first century!  It is considered the most important Roman artifact in Spain.  The remains of the aqueduct are approximately one-half mile in length.  Up until 1884, the aqueduct carried water from the nearby Sierra de Riofrio.

We emerged from the parking garage to this amazing cityscape!
The roundabout at the aqueduct.
Leslie, Hillary, and Tyler at the base of the amazing engineering feat.

We walked into the main square beneath the aqueduct, 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 which was now open.  From there we began our hike through the old 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 façades.  There seems to be an unending number of patterns used on the fronts of each building.  In the tourist information shop, they even sell books documenting the various patterns.  During our walk, I continued my study of Spanish doors, photographing many along the way.  They are so different from anything we have seen in the U.S.

A portion of Segovia seen through the aqueduct.
The view along the east side of the aqueduct.
Under the aqueduct to reack old-town Segovia.
Various plants growing in a rock wall.
A carved double-door.
Beautiful decoration on the side of a building.
Door number 3.

As we continued our walk, we came across the Torreón de los Arias Dávila (Arias Dávila Tower).  This is located at the Plaza los Huertas.  In the 15th century, the Arias Dávila family built a palace.  The tower is all that is left of that structure.  A unique façade pattern is visible in the tower as well.

The Torreón de los Arias Dávila (Arias Dávila Tower).
Door number 7.

From the tower, we made our way to the Plaza Mayor and our first view of the Cathedral of Segovia.  We went inside the Cathedral.  It was huge.  The ceiling was 15 or 20 meters (49 or 66 feet) tall, maybe even higher.  The construction of this wonderful cathedral began in 1136.  Completion did not occur until 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, Calle del Arco.  We chose that direction because it ultimately led to the Alcázar, one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Segovia.  Calle del Arco has numerous gift shops.  In addition, there are quite a few artisan shops.

Plaza Mayor and the Cathedral of Segovia.
A rather jaundiced-looking Santa…
Door number 6.
The intricate detail on a building.
A small passageway leading to Calle Marqués del Arco.
Door number 20.
Door number 5. The Official School of Architects of Segovia.
Door number 34.
The Regalos Manuel (Manuel Gifts) on Calle Marqués del Arco.
Door number 9.
Door number 10.
Door number 2.
Door with a brick arch.
Door number 18.
Door number 19.
Door number 23.
Door number 2. The attorneys’ office.

Soon we found ourselves at the Alcázar.  It is a fortified castle that is rumored to have 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.

The entrance to the Alcázar.
Detail of the entrance gate to the Alcázar.
A view of Iglesia de la Vera Cruz (Church of the True Cross) to the north of the Alcázar.
A partial view of the Alcázar.
The tower of the Alcázar..
A tiled map of Spain in the ticket office.

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 Kings’ Room.  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 sundial 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 Alcázar, we wound our way back through town, to the car and home.

Segovia is rich in heritage and well worth the visit.

Posing near a suit of armor.
Reproductions of the thrones.
Detail of the Kings’ Room.
Posing at a tower.
Even yours truly got in on the act!
The armory.
An interior courtyard of the Alcázar. Note the sundial in between the two windows.
The opposite side of the courtyard.
The dry moat near the main entrance to the Alcázar.
The tower looms over the entrance.
San Andres Church on the left. The Cathedral of Segovia at the center and right.
Door number 16.
The Cathedral of Segovia and part of the old wall.
The inner side of Puerta de San Andrés (St. Andrew Gate).
The outer side of Puerta de San Andrés.
One has to wonder just how far back in time the construction dates on top of the wall.
Maybe a fixer-upper for those interested in relocating to Segovia…
The sidewalk descends from Paseo del Salón de Isabel II beside the wall.
A partial view of the aqueduct from Calle Carmen.
The niche on the aqueduct is not always occupied.
A sculpture of Mary and Jesus in the niche. The colorful fabric is a Spanish flag.