The Alcazar of Segovia, Castilla y Leon. Shutterstock

Segovia city guide

About Segovia

Segovia in Castilla y León is a beautiful city renowned for its remarkably well-preserved ancient Roman aqueduct that was built almost 2,000 years ago and features on the city's coat of arms.

Little is known of Segovia before the arrival of the Romans in the 1st century BC. Under the reign of Emperor Trajan the incredible aqueduct of Segovia was built and at 728m long it is the largest Roman monument left in Spain - and is the subject of a famous local legend where a young woman makes a pact with the Devil for her soul if he can bring water straight to her home. Following the fall of the Roman empire, the Barbarians and, subsequently, the Moors took over the city until Alfonso VI made Segovia a home of Christianity in the 11th century. During his rule, Alfonso VI made the city an important economic power and had many Romanesque churches built such as the Iglesia de San Martín - in fact, the city has more Romanesque monuments than any other city in Europe. Whether Christian, Jewish or Muslim, Segovia's past inhabitants have all left their mark on the city's architecture especially in the former main square, the Plaza del Azojuero, underneath the aqueduct. Alongside the aqueduct, two other structures in Segovia are unmissable - the cathedral and the hill-top Alcázar. Known as the Dame de las Catedrals (Lady of the Cathedrals), Segovia's elegant, slender cathedral is a magnificent example of Gothic architecture. The Alcázar is a remarkable fortress where the Royal Family lived in the 12th century and has witnessed historical events such as Queen Isabel the Catholic Monarch leaving the castle on the day of her coronation as Queen of Castilla in 1474. The Alcázar's fairytale appearance was an inspiration for the design of Walt Disney's Cinderella castle.

There is much beautiful architecture to explore in Segovia including many palaces and fine houses such as the Casa de los Picos, named after the peak-shaped bosses decorating its facade, the Calle Real, a pedestrian street leading to the stunning Plaza Mayor that displays an array of architecture from the 16th and 17th centuries to the 20th century and the Mirador de la Canaleja, a balcony that overlooks the city affording a great viewpoint. A wander around the districts of the barrios segovianos is a must, especially the Barrio de las Canonjías which preserves its beautiful Romanesque houses, the Barrio de los Caballeros, past residence of the noble families in Segovia, and Barrio de la Judería, the Jewish Quarter, which has preserved its beautiful synagogues. The Plaza de Medina del Campo is a wide open space adorned up with elegant buildings where the theatre, theTeatro Juan Bravo, stages outside performances. If you're looking for some culture then why not visit Segovia's museums including the Zuloaga museum that contains the art of the Zuloaga family, housed inside a Romanesque church, the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo "Esteban Vicente" (Museum of Contemporary Art) or the Casa de Antonio Machado, the house of the poet, Antonio Machado? Those wanting to get some fresh air will find that the areas outside the city are perfect for outdoor activities such as hiking, horse-riding, canoeing, gliding and more.

The Plaza Mayor and the surrounding streets are the best areas to go shopping for souvenirs and no visit to Segovia would be complete without discovering the handicraftsfrom over 100 workshops in the province such as embroidered cloth, glasswork, pottery and leatherwork. You'll find big brands and small boutiques in the city centre as well as a street market in the Plaza Mayor on a Thursday. A rural area, the food and drink of the province reflects this rustic character with roast suckling pig and lamb very common, as well as beef, veal and game. Local cheeses, donuts and pastries are also delicacies but the signature dessert of the area is the ponche segovia, a a sponge cake with marzipan. Enjoy your meal with wines from the Ribero del Duero region.

OVERVIEW

  • Country: Spain

  • Region: Castilla y León

  • Province: Segovia

  • Population: 53.000

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