One day in Segovia
Segovia is one of Spain's World Heritage Cities. The aqueduct and the historic town, the site of the Alcázar fortress, its Jewish quarter and the Romanesque churches have received the UNESCO World Heritage designation.
Segovia is a World Heritage City, with unique monuments which alone make a visit well worthwhile. However, once in Segovia you will find the city offers much, much more. An old Jewish quarter, stately homes, outstanding views and a green belt which is ideal for a pleasant stroll in the sunshine. This route offers a way to get to know the city in one day.
HOW TO GET THERE Bus: there are several regular bus lines to Madrid, Avila and Salamanca with numerous daily services. Train: Several daily high-speed train services (AVE) connect with Madrid (approximately 30 minutes) and Valladolid (approximately 40 minutes). From the station, there is a bus service to the city centre (approximately 15 minutes) By road: Madrid – Segovia: on the A6 motorway, then continue on the AP6 and AP61. Approximate travel time: 1 hour 15 minutes. Avila – Segovia: on the A51 and continue on the AP6 and AP61. Approximate travel time: one hour. By air: the nearest airports are Madrid (87 kilometres), Valladolid (125 kilometres) and Salamanca (164 kilometres).
VISIT TO THE AQUEDUCT, JEWISH QUARTER AND THE CATHEDRAL (Approximately 2 and a half hours. Suggested timetable: 10:30am to 1pm.) A good time to begin our visit to Segovia is at 10:30am. Our first stop is in the Plaza del Azoguejo square, where we find the main Visitor Reception Centre and the imposing Aqueduct. This is a good opportunity to pick up all the information we need. As well as having our photo taken under the monument, we can also discover observe interesting details, such as the perfection of the stone-cutting, or the absence of any kind of adhesive material to keep the blocks together. Each one (weighing up to two tons) is simply placed on top of another, thus proving the precision of the Romans’ work. If we look closely, we see that –with the exception of some of the lower stones– the rest all have ridges on their sides. These are the marks incurred as the stones were dragged and raised into position. From the Aqueduct, we walk towards the Jewish Quarter along Calle Cervantes, and continue along Calle Juan Bravo until the Puerta de la Luna arch, which leads onto the Paseo del Salón avenue. On the way we can take a look at the façades of the buildings with their typical decoration, normally featuring varied and attractive geographic and plant motifs. We will also pass the church of San Martín, a good example of Romanesque art in Segovia, and the Casa de los Picos house. Some of the courtyards in this area –for example, the one in the Del Río house– are also worth visiting. From the Paseo del Salón, we have a good view of part of the city’s green belt, and the Alcázar fortress to the left. We can then go up through the Puerta del Sol until the Calle de la Judería Vieja (the old Jewish Quarter), and visit the Former Main Synagogue. Next, we go around the Cathedral along Calle San Geroteo to the Plaza de la Merced square, thus taking in the whole of the Jewish Quarter. After we have seen its spectacular exterior, we can enter the cathedral from the Calle del Marqués de Arco, which gives onto the Plaza Mayor square. Things to remember It is advisable to wear comfortable shoes, as Segovia has numerous hills. In the Visitor Reception Centre in the Plaza Azoguejo you can hire guides to show you around the whole city and its monuments. The best conserved part of the Aqueduct is in the Azoguejo square, although other sections of the monument are still standing and in good condition. However these parts have been restored, as you can see from the style of the arches or from the stones themselves. The rest of the aqueduct extends to the mountains for about 14 kilometres. One of the best views of the Aqueduct can be had from the top of the steps beside it, next to the information centre. There is a small market in the Plaza Mayor square on Thursday mornings. The remains of the old Jewish Cemetery are located in the green area known as El Pinarillo, in front of the Jewish Quarter. LUNCH This is the time to sample the local gastronomy. We can find a host of restaurants in the streets leading off the Plaza Mayor square, in the area around the Cathedral and in the Plaza del Azoguejo square. If it is a sunny day with warm temperatures, there are numerous terraces where we can sit and enjoy the impressive views over the monuments. When you order, don’t miss such typical dishes such as roast suckling pig or milk-fed lamb. If you prefer fish, trout is the best option.
VISIT TO THE ALCÁZAR AND UP TO THE TOWER (Approximately one and a half hours. Suggested timetable: 3:30-5pm.) Segovia is a city which can be explored on foot, and a gentle walk will take us to the Alcázar. As well as visiting the interior, it is definitely worthwhile to climb to the top of the tower (152 stairs), as it offers outstanding views of the church of Vera Cruz and the El Parral monastery. There is also another surprise in store for us: all around us, the mountains spread in waves like a great sea. Nearby, in the centre of the city, stands the Cathedral. The Aqueduct is a little lower down, although it cannot be seen from the Alcázar. Segovia’s layout and gradient mean that many people conceive of the city as a great ship, with the Alcázar at the prow, the Cathedral as the main mast, and the Aqueduct as the anchor cast into the sea, represented by the mountain range. Once we know this metaphor, we can experience the view from the top of the tower from the vantage point of a sailor. Things to remember The visit to the Alcázar is has two parts: the interior rooms of the building, consisting of the weapons room and the chapel; and the tower. The climb to the tower, although not requiring any great levels of fitness, may be hard due to the shallow steps and the narrowness of the stairwell. It is advisable to book in advance for guided visits in languages other than Spanish. LOOKING OUT OVER A BALCONY WITH A THOUSAND VIEWS (Approximately 1 and a half hours. Suggested timetable: 5-6:30pm). Segovia is surrounded by a stretch of greenery which offers up a different view at every turn: a mysterious castle (the Alcázar) which rises from among the trees, a large river, and a fortified citadel with multiple towers. And all this makes it an ideal spot for photographers. What’s more, it’s a very luminous city, and particularly between the months of May and September, the perfect place for strolling amid the greenery against a backdrop of the Alcázar. A good way of spending the afternoon, if we’re not tired enough to go back to the hotel, is to go down from the Alcázar to the Eresma river, and cross the bridge to visit the church of Vera Cruz, the Fuencisla shrine and the Convent of the Barefoot Carmelites or the Parral monastery. And if we take along something to eat, we can sit peacefully beside the river and have a picnic under the shade of the trees as we enjoy the afternoon. Things to remember There are three signposted routes around the city, all of which take us past the Jewish cemetery, the Fuencisla, Vera Cruz, El Parral and the convent of the Barefoot Carmelites. These are highly recommended on a sunny day and will guarantee you take home some unique photos of Segovia. You can rent bicycles in the Plaza Mayor, a great way to enjoy the city’s green belt. The Parral has a mass in Gregorian chant every Sunday at 12pm. BUYING SOUVENIRS (Approximately 1 and a half hours. Suggested timetable: 7-8:30pm). It’s time to go back to the walled city and pick up a few souvenirs. We go up along the Puerta de Santiago, a road which is part of the Way of Saint James. The Poets’ Garden is a good place to stop and take some photographs. The area around the Plaza Mayor square is a great spot to find a whole range of souvenirs of the city, including typical local crafts, and all kinds of gifts. Dinner overlooking the illuminated aqueduct The Paseo del Salón, the Plaza Mayor, the Plaza de Medina del Campo and the streets between them are full of places where you can tickle your appetite with some typical Segovian tapas. But there is one unforgettable way of rounding off our day, and that is having a wonderful dinner against a backdrop of the illuminated Aqueduct. This is the perfect time to try some delicious wild mushrooms or tasty Cantimpalos chorizos. Afterwards, if we want to get a taste of Segovia’s nightlife, there are numerous venues in the San Millán area playing the latest music. If we feel like a leisurely stroll before returning to our hotel, the historic centre of the town, with all the monuments beautifully lit up, is an excellent option. Things to remember The Visitors Reception Centre arranges dramatised visits by night during July and August.