The city of Segovia – the capital of the province of the same name – is located 90 km northwest of Madrid in the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains on a rocky plateau at an altitude of 1000 m. It is part of the autonomous region of Castile and Leon (Castile and Leon).
According to CALCULATORINC, Segovia was founded by the Romans in 80 BC. and for a long time was a major trading center. In the Middle Ages, the royal residence was located here. Since 1985, the city center, every square meter of which is reminiscent of the rich history of Segovia, has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The symbol of the city is undoubtedly the Roman aqueduct., which was built in the 1st century AD under the emperor Trajan. The aqueduct is a 728-meter granite bridge, consisting of 163 arches and reaching a height of 29 m. It is built from 25,000 granite blocks without the use of fastening materials. Now the aqueduct crowns the entrance to the Old City of Segovia.
While walking around the Old Town, you will see many old buildings. First of all, these are the city gates of San Cebrian, Santiago and San Andrés. – the only ones that have survived from the fortress walls, which were erected in the 11th century after King Alfonso VI conquered the city from the Arabs. In the central part of the Old Town, inside the fortress walls, the Casa de los Picos mansion of the 15th century with an unusual facade is interesting; the building of the grain warehouse (“Bread Exchange”), built in the Gothic style; the 14th century Los Lozoya tower; the church of San Martin of the 12th century with elements of the Romanesque style, as well as the Musarab and Mudéjar styles; the old synagogue in the Jewish quarter; the Church of San Miguel, where Isabella I was crowned; mansions of noble Spanish families and churches of San Juan de los Caballeros, San Nicolás and San Esteban in the Caballeros quarter; as well as the Esteban Vicente Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Segovia.
In the heart of Segovia on the Plaza Mayor stands the Cathedral – one of the most beautiful late Gothic buildings in the country. The construction of the cathedral began in 1525 and lasted for about 200 years. The cathedral is truly monumental: there are about 20 chapels, and the belfry of the cathedral reaches a height of 90 m. The Museum of Religious Art is also open in the Cathedral.
Nearby, on a high cliff, there is another visiting card of the city – the Alcazar fortress. Surrounded by a deep moat, the fortress with high walls and a dozen towers was built in the 12th century and subsequently rebuilt more than once. Medieval Alcazar of Segovia was one of the key defensive fortresses of the kingdom of Castile. For tourists, 11 halls of the fortress and the 80-meter tower Torre de Juan II are open, from where you can see the whole city. The most interesting are the Hall of Kings, decorated with a frieze depicting dozens of kings who fought against the Arabs for Spanish lands, the Hall of Cones, whose ceiling is decorated with peculiar “stalactites” in the form of cones, as well as the Throne, Armory and Fireplace rooms. The fortress has a garden, which was created in the period from the 18th to the 19th centuries.
In the vicinity of the Alcazar on the outskirts of Segovia, it is worth visiting the Church of La Vera Cruz. It is one of the best preserved late Romanesque churches in Europe. The church was built in the 13th century by the Templars in the image of the Jerusalem Church of the Holy Sepulcher. In plan, the church has a dodecagon, not a Latin or Greek cross. Also of interest are three monasteries located nearby: the 16th century Carmelite monastery of St. John of the Cross, where the remains of this saint are buried; the Gothic monastery of El Parral from the 15th century; and the monastery of San Antonio el Real from the 15th century, where King Enrique IV rested in the summer.
12 km southeast of Segovia in the town of San Ildefonso (San Ildefonso) is located the Royal Palace of La Granja. The palace was built in the 18th century in the Baroque style under King Philip V and became a favorite vacation spot for representatives of the Bourbon dynasty. Philip V fell in love with the palace so much that he bequeathed to bury himself in the palace church. To this day, the remains of the king and his wife are buried here. Around the palace there is a vast park (an area of 6 sq. km) in the manner of the Versailles park. In the park you can see dozens of sculptural compositions and fountains. In addition, on the territory of the palace complex in the building of the 18th century, there is the Royal Glass Factory, where glassware is exhibited and it is told about the factory production process.
West of San Idelfonso is the town of Riofrio. (Riofrio), which houses another royal palace. The local palace was built in the 18th century by order of the widow of Philip V – Queen Isabella Farnese. The palace was built in the Italian style. It is made in the form of a quadrilateral, bordering the inner area. After the death of the queen, the palace was never visited by the Spanish kings. Today, furniture from the 19th century is exhibited in the halls of the palace, and the Hunting Museum is also located here, which displays ancient weapons, tapestries and paintings with hunting scenes, including paintings by Velázquez and Rubens.
Castles are scattered throughout the province of Segovia: the Gothic castle of the Dukes of Albuquerque of the 15th-16th centuries in the city of Cuellar, which is also famous for its churches; 15th century castle in Turegano (Turegano); the 15th-century castle at Coca is a fine example of Mudéjar military architecture; and the castle of the village of Pedraza, where in the past the workshop of the famous Spanish artist Ignacio Zuloaga was located, and now houses an interesting art museum. The city of Sepulveda, located 60 km northeast of Segovia , is worth attention.. The city is full of Romanesque buildings dating back to the 11th and 12th centuries and sending tourists back to those distant times. The oldest building in Sepulveda is the church of El Salvador. It was erected in 1093. On the outskirts of the city, in a deep gorge, is the 12th-century church of Santa Maria de la Pena. Its entrance is decorated with a tympanum (niche) with sculptural images. The city of Sepulveda is also known for the fact that next to it, on an area of 5037 hectares, the natural park of Hoses del Rio Duraton is spread. (Hoses del Rio Duraton natural park). The park was created along the banks of the Duraton River, whose course has formed a whole network of deep gorges in these places. The forests of the park are home to a variety of birds of prey, including griffon vulture, vulture, golden eagle, kestrel and peregrine falcon. The most popular way to see all the beauties of the park is to go rafting or canoeing on the river.
From Segovia, you can go on a trip along the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range, which is part of the Central Cordillera mountain range. There are two significant nature protection zones here. On the slopes of the highest point of the Sierra de Guadarrama – Peñalara Mountains (Penalara) (2428 m) – a natural park is equipped. The park is famous for its lakes of glacial origin and glaciers. The Cuenca Alta del Rio Manzanares biosphere reserve is located in the upper reaches of the Manzanares River. One of the main attractions of the park are the granite mountains of La Pedriza, whose slopes are popular with climbers. In general, the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range offers tourists unlimited opportunities for hiking and mountaineering. The most interesting routes start from the small town of Cercedilla. Also in the mountains of the Sierra de Guadarrama, not far from Segovia, there are several ski centers: Puerto de Navacerrada (Puerto de Navacerrada), Valdesqui and La Pinilla.