Spain Guide


Segovia Spain

Segovia is located in the Spanish province of the same name in the region of Castilla Leon. This is one of the most beautiful and historic cities in the whole of Spain with a magical, fairy tale quality which charms visitors from all over the world. Segovia's magnificent alcazar fortress was the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty's Castle in the Walt Disney cartoon; walk the narrow, twisting alleyways of this ancient city and you'll feel as though you've stepped right into the pages of a Grimms brothers folk tale.

The city is just one hour's drive north of Madrid with but it's a world apart from the frantic activity of the Spanish capital with its three million inhabitants. Segovia is separated from Madrid by the Sierra Guadarrama mountain range and to reach it you must drive through a modern tunnel which has taken the place of the former hazardous mountain pass. On arrival you'll find a small, sleepy city with some breathtaking architecture famed throughout the world. The alcazar and old quarter were named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) in 1985. There's the fabulous turreted cathedral, the beautiful castle and an almost perfectly preserved 2,000 year old Roman aqueduct running right through the town centre.

The mountains provide a spectacular backdrop to the city, especially in spring and winter when they're laden with snow. Segovia's altitude of nearly 1,000 metres means the city centre street cafes are the perfect places to while away the long, summer evenings (unlike the centre of Madrid which is stiflingly hot at the height of summer).

The whole place is steeped in history and boasts some of the world's finest examples of Romanesque architecture from the 11th and 12th centuries. If you're a Disney fan, you'll recognise the alcazar from the cartoon films and the castles which dominate the Disney theme parks. You almost expect to see Rapunzel letting down her hair from one of its cone shaped turrets. It was here that Queen Isabella met King Ferdinand in the 15th century; the marriage of the Catholic monarchs united the two kingdoms of Castile and Aragaon and led to one of the most important chapters in the country's history. Isabella was crowned Queen of Spain in Segovia's Plaza Mayor and it was at the alcazar that she promised Christopher Columbus financial backing for his discovery of the New World.

The famous aqueduct is a triumph of Roman engineering, dispensing water to the city for 2,000 years since its construction in the first century AD. It has survived storms, hurricanes and earthquakes even though its 20,400 stone blocks were laid without a drop of mortar. The aqueduct is one of the most impressive and best preserved in the whole of Europe.