City of the victory
Just a day has passed into the new year and we are already making our first day trip, to Segovia this time, although in this occasion is a simple one from Madrid where I was spending the Christmas holidays at home with family and friends. Before this date, there’s been only one time I’ve been here before but cannot even recall when that was. Certainly many years ago, therefore was great to finally come back here and with the proper instruments this time: a nice camera to capture the best the city has to offer, and of course, having the chance afterwards for creating this guide for anyone to enjoy.
The day back in Madrid started with quite harsh weather-wise talking. Snowing so heavily that we had to actually postpone our departure. We though we would not even be able to take the train there, but as soon as we arrived to the station, trains were running ontime without any trouble, therefore, why to wait?.
At 90km to the north from Madrid, it is one of the 9 regions that forms Castile and Leon Autonomous Community; and like it is on the other remaining 8 regions, it is full of rich history and extraordinary architecture. There is in this city, however, a major landmark that makes it different to any other and not just only in Spain but across the entire of the former Roman Empire: its aqueduct. It is an unique example of ancient civil engineering which stands today as the best preserved and the most complete anywhere.
But not only the aqueduct stands as one of the main monument sin the city, the many churches, the cathedral, palaces, old buildings and squares; and the Alcazar Castle, another of the jewels of the city, one of the inspirations for Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle it is said.
With so much to see and do in the city your day will be very busy, but still will just one day will be enough for visiting everything. There is no need for you to spend longer time in the city, unless you want to continue visiting other places in the region. Said that, and since Segovia does not have an airport, the best you can do is to consider Segovia as a day trip from Madrid.
It is said that food in here is some of the best in Spain, although hardly anywhere in Spain is difficult not to be good. Each region in Spain have their own dishes, and Segovia is no exception. Here the most famous dish is Lechazo, this is, roasted lamb cooked to perfection. Since centuries it’s been done the very same way, from the Arabs to Jews and Christians, a tradition kept intact to our days. You can find Lechazo in almost any restaurant; although it’s not only about this dish but the many others as roasted pig, roasted veal or judiones (big beans stew) to name a few.
For further information about Segovia visit Wikipedia and Wikitravel sites. Spain’s currency is the Euro (EUR). Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
What to see and do in Segovia
- Plaza del Azoguejo The main square in the city with difference, and obviously the most famous as it’s where you find the Roman aqueduct in it’s full glory.
-Roman Aqueduct Dating from the 1st and early 2nd century it is known as the most important Roman civil engineering work in Spain. Consists of about 25000 granite blocks held together without any mortar and spanning 818 meters with 170 arches, the highest being 29 meters. The reason number one the tourists come to Segovia for. It is the most complete Roman aqueduct across the former Roman Empire.
-Loba Capitolina This small sculpture is located in front of the aqueduct is copy of the Capitoline wolf preserved in the Capitoline Museum in Rome and was a gift that Rome gave to the city in 1974 during the events for the commemoration of the bi-millennial anniversary of the aqueduct.
- Plaza de la Artilleria Just to the other side of the aqueduct, it is where you will find the major transport hub in the city, since everything to the other side of the aqueduct is the historic town, fully pedestrianised.
- City Walls Existed from before Alfonso VI of Leon and Castile took the city from the Arabs and enlarged these afterwards bringing it to a perimeter of 3 kilometres in length. It encircles the historic old town having survived in it’s integrity with three doors.
-San Andres Door Is the most monumental of the three surviving doors and the one acting a the museum of the walls. Although documented in 1120, the current door is from the 15th century. It’s the gateway to the Jewish quarter.
-Saint James Door Also documented in the 11th century, the current shape dates back to the 17th century.
-San Cebrian Door The current shape is the work done in the 17th century and it’s the simplest of the three doors.
- Calle Real Is the most historical street running through the historical centre of the city. Fully pedestrian connects Azoguejo with Plaza Mayor squares. Along its way you will find most of the monuments the city has to offer like palaces and churches:
-Mirador de la Canaleja From where you have great views over the Guadarrama mountain range. Across it you are already in the region of Madrid.
-Palaces of Los del Río, Conde de Alpuente, Los Torreagero, Cascales.
-Casa de los 7 Picos Dating from the 15th century with its interesting façade.
-San Martín Square Perhaps the most beautiful in the city for the great mixture of architectural styles and monuments in such reduced space.
-Church of San Martín From the 12th century is one of the best examples of a Roman church in the city with Moorish style bell tower and the arched gallery.
-Torreón de los Lozoya It was a defence tower from the 14th century. The palace built behind dates from the 16th century. Currently an exhibition hall.
- Plaza Mayor The second largest square in the city and also as picturesque and historical as Azoguejo. It is the cultural and religious centre with thriving nightlife on the surrounding streets.
-Cathedral From the 16th century it is the centre piece of Plaza Mayor although the main entrance is not located in the square. It is the last Gothic cathedral built in Spain and is considered the masterpiece of Basque-Castilian Gothic architecture. Also known as “The Lady of Cathedrals.” This is the third reincarnation of the cathedral in the city, retaining the cloister of the second.
-City Hall At one side of the square is this distinctive building with its characteristic two towers and the clock central between both.
-Canavan’s Theatre The main theatre was turned into the largest disco in the city, retaining its original decoration and levels.
- Corpus Christi Church It’s a former old Synagogue from the 13th century which was the centre for the Jewish population of Segovia in medieval times.
- San Esteban Church Built in the 13th century in late Romanesque style, the bell tower is 53 metres high converting it into the highest Romanesque tower in Spain although the inside is Baroque as it was rebuilt in the 18th century after a fire.
- Casa de la Moneda The mint house was built in the 16th century it is the oldest industrial building in Europe. It was the first mechanic minting building in Spain and it is in “mint” condition. Entrance fee 3 Euros.
- Alcazar This Royal Palace originally documented in the 11th century and located on top of a rock between the rivers Eresma and Clamores was one of the favourite residences of the Kings of Castile. Built in many styles from Romanesque, Gothic and Moorish is said to be one of the inspirations for Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle. Rebuilt in 1862 after a fire destroyed a large portion, it is now the Royal School of Artillery Archives and Museum. It costs 4 Euros to enter the museum plus another 2 Euros to climb the tower which is totally worth if for the views you will get over the city and landscapes around.
- Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso Is an 18th century palace in the small town of San Ildefonso 13km from Segovia. It was the summer residence of the Kings of Spain since the reign of Philip V. Of Baroque style surrounded by French layout gardens including many sculptural fountains, they are the best example of 18th century European garden design.
Arriving to Segovia is very easy and fast specially if coming from Madrid. Segovia does not have airport, being the nearest one Madrid and then Valladolid, this one although not much farther than Madrid, is more time consuming to reach not to mention the destinations can be counted with the fingers of just 2 hands.
The fastest way is by train. From Madrid you have the high speed trains taking merely 30 minutes with very frequent trains. And so from Valladolid, which is on the same high speed line and will take the same time. Other but slower options are buses which will take approximately 1.30h.
Within the city the only transport you will need is a local bus from the train station to the city centre (Plaza de la Artillería). Those are frequent and inexpensive. Apart from this, once in Artillería the whole of the historical city is pedestrian therefore no need for any transport. Everything can be done by walking as distances are no big.
There is a good choice of hotels in the city either being all the usual world-wide chains or the more local and small at historical palaces. In any case, unfortunately I cannot recommend you any since we did not stay overnight. We just came to spend the day from Madrid which is what majority of tourists also do. A good and reasonable point to start your search is by checking some of our preferred affiliate hotel search engine such as Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, Otel.com, Agoda, Opodo, LateRooms or Ebookers. Should you wish to check a great and very complete guide for Madrid don’t forget to take a look.