After being a military trading centre under the Roman Empire, Segovia lived its golden age during the Middle Ages, when it became the place of residence of the court of the Trastámaras. This period was responsible for the construction of a large number of Romanesque buildings, a wealth of heritage that is still conserved today.
The entrance gate to the historic quarter of Segovia is the Roman Aqueduct, in the plaza del Azoguejo. This jewel of engineering, built under the Roman empire, brought water to the high city from 15 kilometres away. Its 163 arches and 29 metres at its highest point are supported by blocks of stone from the Sierra de Guadarrama without mortar, lead or cement.
Inside the city are important medieval and Renaissance buildings, such as the Casa de los Picos, the Corn Exchange or the Tower of los Lozoya. The first of them dates from the 15th century and its façade decorated with spots of granite currently hosts the School of Applied Arts and Trades. The Corn Exchange, a former Gothic barn, and the Tower, a 14th century defence structure, are now used for cultural exhibitions.
On our way to the Plaza Mayor and the Cathedral we should stop at some important places of worship. In the Medina del Campo square is the church of San Martín, where Mozarab, Romanesque and Mudejar elements are spread around the series of arches and capitals. The old Segovian Jewish quarter must have been in an area near the city walls since the Convent of Corpus Christi is built over a former synagogue. San Miguel, incidentally, was the place chosen for the coronation of Isabel the Catholic Monarch as the Queen of Castile.
A short distance away from the arcaded Plaza Mayor we find one of the last gothic buildings to be constructed in Spain, the Cathedral. Started in the 16th century in flamboyant Gothic, in its execution are some pieces of the old cathedral such as a gothic Hispano Flemish cloister. More recent additions are the San Frutos gate, the apse, the high reredos (a work by Sabatini in the baroque style) and the Neoclassic retrochoir by Ventura Rodríguez. The Cathedral Museum also offers us a large collection of religious art from various periods of history.
The los Caballeros quarter is also inside the city. Here you can find luxurious large houses and palaces belonging to noble families such as the palaces of Floresta, Count Cheste or Uceda-Peralta. Numerous Romanesque churches can be found in this quarter, such as the church of San Juan de los Caballeros (which houses the Zuloaga Museum), San Nicolás (now the Municipal Theatre Workshop) or San Esteban, a 13th century building whose tower and atrium are one of the jewels of late Spanish Romanesque. Among these, there are beautiful displays of medieval military architecture, such as the Hércules Tower and the Arias Dávila Tower.
At one end of this walled enclosure is the profile of the Alcazar fortress behind the Queen Victoria Eugenia gardens. On the outside is the impressive group formed by an 80 metre high tower with twelve more smaller towers, and a moat for defence. Several courtyards, halls and rooms can be visited, and you can even go up to the top of the crenellated tower and admire the Segovian landscape.
Outside the city, Segovia offers us an itinerary among squares, gardens and numerous Romanesque constructions. We can thus visit the church of San Millán, one of the best displays of 12th century Segovian art, with its Mozarab tower, its atrium and apses. In the church of San Clemente the outstanding features are its blind arch apse and in San Justo some exceptional Romanesque paintings. To find one of the best Mudejar coffered ceilings in Segovia we have to go to the monastery of San Antonio el Real, the former summer residence of King Enrique IV. Here we can also admire 15th century Flemish pieces, books, robes and sculptures from the period.
Also in Segovia you can visit the Stately Home of the writer Antonio Machado and the Museum of Contemporary Art named after Esteban Vicente.
Outside the centre of Segovia are the churches
of San Lorenzo (Romanesque with a Mudejar tower) and la Vera Cruz
(with a polygonal plan of Templar origin) and the monasteries
of Santa Cruz la Real (in Isabelline Gothic style) and El Parral
(belonging to the florid Gothic style).
Tourits Office: Plaza Mayor, 10
40001 Segovia (Segovia)
Tel. +34 921460334