Spain Guide

 

Segovia Tourist Attractions Things to Do

Along with its famous cathedral, castle and Roman aqueduct, Segovia offers its visitors a feast of historic buildings and monuments. Explore its twisting, narrow alleyways and you'll find ancient palaces and convents alongside some excellent shops, restaurants and street cafes. Within easy reach of the city there are some wonderful excursions to be enjoyed including the famed Route of the Castles of Castile. You can go hiking in the nearby Guadarrama Mountains and even ski if you're visiting in the winter months. Madrid, with its famous Prado museum, world class zoo and host of other attractions is only an hour's drive to the south.

Top of your list of places to visit will probably be the fabulous alcazar, a cross between a castle and a palace, which was the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty's castle in the Walt Disney cartoon. The castle was built in the 12th and 13th centuries on the site of old Roman fortifications, perched high above the point where the Eresma and Clamores rivers meet. Its cone shaped turrets lend it the fairytale quality which captured Disney's imagination; you can see replicas of the castle in all the big Disney theme parks. This is the place where Queen Isabella met King Ferdinand in the 15th century at the start of a royal union which heralded one of the most important periods in Spain's history. In the sumptuous Throne Hall you can see the two thrones with a canopy bearing the arms of the Catholic monarchs. Christopher Columbus came here to beg Isabella's support for his voyages to the New World.

The alcazar has numerous underground levels and secret passages, some of which reach as far as the rivers and connect with other palaces in the city. It was remodelled and expanded during the 15th and 18th centuries and, sadly, a large section of the old Moorish ceilings were destroyed in a three day fire in 1862. The building was restored in 1896 and renovations are constantly being undertaken to this day.

You'll also want to visit the beautiful turreted cathedral which was the last major Gothic building constructed in Spain. Construction work began in 1525 under the orders of Emperor Charles V and lasted more than 50 years on completion, the building was so splendid that it was called "La Dama de las Catedrales" (the Lady of the Cathedrals). Unfortunately many of its treasures and interior ornamentation were plundered by Napoleon's men during the Peninsula War at the start of the 19th century. But the cathedral still has some lovely stained glass windows, several 16th and 17th century paintings and the first book ever printed in Spain (dating back to 1472).

The magnificent Roman aqueduct which runs right through the town centre is the third in the trio of Segovia's world famous architectural wonders. Its 20,400 stone blocks were laid 2,000 years ago without a drop of mortar and have survived hurricanes and earthquakes to bring a constant supply of water to the city until recent years. It starts 14 kilometres from the city but it's the 728 metre long stretch known as the Devil's Bridge which is the most spectacular part. It's one of the most impressive and best preserved aqueducts in the world.

For 400 years the aqueduct was the famous mark on all coins struck in the city. The Royal Mint itself is one of Segovia's most important historic buildings. It was commissioned by King Felipe II in 1583 to produce coins from the gold and silver flooding into Spain from the Americas following the voyages of discovery by Columbus. State of the art coining machines were brought from Germany to manufacture coins for the first time using machinery rather than the traditional hammer struck method. Today the Royal Mill Mint, located at the foot of the alcazar, is considered to be the oldest industrial building still standing in Spain and one of the oldest mechanised manufacturing plants still remaining in the world.

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