I count myself as fairly well up on great places to visit in Europe, but have to admit that I had never heard of Segovia until one of my favourite bloggers and Spain aficionado Andrew Petcher informed me of its existence. Furthermore he offered up some suggestions for a great hotel and a very pleasant walk – well I could hardly ignore the advice, could I?
Our entry point was Madrid and we hot-footed it as fast as we could to Chamartín station to take the super slick AVE train for twenty-nine minutes and one stop to Segovia in the Castile and León region of Spain. €26 was a little pricey, but all part of the fun experience.
Even though we were being whisked along at 250 kmph we could see we were heading somewhere special if the snow clad peaks of the Sierra de Guadarrama were anything to go by.
Our experienced and knowledgeable taxi driver took us from the out of town AVE station and gave us commentary in Spanish as he went. Despite being non-speakers we understood when he pointed out the circling storks and their precipitous nests atop chimneys and spires.
I closed my eyes when he pointed out the incredibly well preserved Roman aqueduct – I wanted to savour it properly next day so avoided even a sideways glance.
Our hotel, the Infanta Isabel was situated right in the main square and we were lucky to get rooms on the second floor overlooking the square, Segovia’s cathedral and the other interesting buildings such as the cabaret theatre.
As we had been up since the early hours and would be staying three nights, we decided sightseeing was for the next day and settled in for some afternoon beers in the warm sunshine sat adjacent to the cathedral. Very pleasingly Segovia follows the tradition of giving away some food with each drink. Tortilla this time but along the way we had some delicious dishes such as fried squid, black pudding, chicken croquettes and suckling pig.
We chose a simple tapas bar for our meal that evening. As usual we ordered far too much for three of us, but managed to consume it all together with a bottle of locally produced Rioja. It was all absolutely delicious. We still somehow managed to fit in a dessert and coffee in the hotel bar/restaurant. We chose the local speciality, a kind of custard and milk tart, which was to die for in a sweet thing sort of way.
Next morning we breakfasted on fresh tomatoes with basil on toast and ventured forth for exploration. First stop was the aqueduct situated on the edge of the walled old town.
Well, admittedly I am yet to see Pont du Gard in France (although I have been to impressive Caesarea in Israel), but you would be hard-pressed to find a better example of such a structure (unless you know better of course!).
What makes the construction even more remarkable is that no mortar of any kind has been used with the giant rocks welded together by their own mighty force made possible by the brilliant design of what is essentially a giant jigsaw puzzle. That it has stood virtually undamaged for nearly 2,000 years is testament to the Roman’s incredible engineering prowess.
It was built at the end of the 1st century and was in use until the middle of the 19th. It is comprised of 166 stone arches on granite ashlars.
The aqueduct once transported water from the Rio Frio river, situated in mountains 17 km from the city in the La Acebeda region. It runs 15 km before arriving in the city and at its tallest reaches a height of 28.5 metres, including nearly 6 metres of foundation.
We followed its length sited above ground. Of course the balance of its main channel had to remain consistent so that the water would flow. This means that the height of the arches had to be in harmony with the lie of the land.
Therefore at the end of its visible structure, the channel was clear to see before it disappeared underground. A truly amazing geometrical site.
We walked back up to its highest point trying to get some photographs to do the huge beast justice. This is however one place definitely best viewed close up for yourself to appreciate its enormity and splendour.
Coming next, Segovia’s Gothic Cathedral.