Alcázar fortress in Segovia
Monument to Daoíz and Velarde
El Parral monastery
View of Segovia
Sculpture of a Capitoline wolf nursing Romulus and Remus next to the aqueduct, Segovia
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Segovia, the old quarter of which, along with its Roman aqueduct, are World Heritage Sites, lies on high ground between the Eresma and Clamores Rivers. In addition to its famous aqueduct, numerous Romanesque churches, the Cathedral and Fortress go to form this magnificent landscape that presides over this part of Castile. Its modern Parador Hotel is one of the best places for the visitor to savour the city's most traditional dish: roast suckling pig. Moreover, Segovia is an excellent starting point to tour the province and visit to the La Granja Palace, as well as the Gorges of the Duratón River Nature Reserve, among other attractions.
Having been a trading centre under the Roman Empire, Segovia reached its period of greatest splendour during the Middle Ages, on becoming the court residence of the Trastamaras, as well as an important centre of livestock and textile activity. It was during this period that a great many of the local Romanesque buildings were built, a rich heritage that has come down to us today. The Roman aqueduct in Azoguejo square, serves as the main entrance to the historic quarter of Segovia. This engineering gem, built under the Roman Empire (1st century AD), carried water to the elevated city from some 15 Km away. Its 163 arches and its height, some 29 m at its higest point, are supported by blocks of stone from the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains that are completely plaster, lead and mortar free. Walled Segovia The city that is concealed behind the walls reveals some important Medieval and Renaissance buildings to us, such as Casa de los Picos house, the Alhóndiga corn exchange and the Torreón de Los Lozoya tower. The first of these, dating from the 15th century, has a façade decorated in granite points and is currently home to the School of Applied Arts and Crafts. The Alhóndiga, the old Gothic corn exchange, and the Tower, originally a 14th century defensive structure, are now used to hold cultural exhibitions. Before getting to the Plaza Mayor and the Cathedral, known as the "lady of all cathedrals", we should be careful not to miss out on several important churches on our way. San Martín, which stands in Medina del Campo square, contains Mozarabic, Romanesque and Mudejar elements that are displayed in its arcades and capitals. The old Jewish quarter must have been situated near the walled section of the city, given that the Corpus Christi Convent was built on the site of the old Main Synagogue. On the other hand, San Miguel was the place chosen for the coronation ceremony of Isabella I as Queen of Castile. A stone's throw from the arched Plaza Mayor we come across one of the last Gothic buildings built in España, the Cathedral. Building began on it in the 16th century, during the late Gothic period. Some parts of the old cathedral, such as its flamboyant Gothic cloister, the choir stalls and the main façade are worthy of special attention. The San Frutos door, the apse, the main altarpiece (the Baroque-style work of Sabatini) and the Neo-classical area behind the choir, the work of Ventura Rodríguez, are more recent features. The smaller chapels house sculptures by Juan de Juni and Gregoria Fernández. Names, indeed, that are asssociated with some of the great Spanish Baroque and Neo-classical works. The Cathedral Museum houses an important collection of religious art that has come down to us from several historical periods. The Caballeros neighbourhood aslo lies within the city walls. Here we encounter wealthy state houses and the palaces of noble families, such as Floresta de Trifontane, Conde Cheste and Uceda-Peralta. This neighbourhood is also home to numerous Romanesque churches, such as San Juan de los Caballeros church (which houses the Zuloaga Musuem), San Nicolás church (today home to the Municipal Theatre Workshop) and San Esteban church, a 12th century building, the tower and atrium of which are true gems of the late Spanish Romanseque period. Among some marvellous examples of Medieval military architecture, such as the Torre de Hércules and the Torreón de Arias Dávila towers, stands the Trinidad church, one of the city's best preserved Romanesque churches. At one end of this walled enclosure you can see the outline of the Alcázar Fortress, behind the Queen Victoria Eugenia Gardens (this is the spot where the old cathedral stood). The exterior of the fortress as a whole makes quite an impact on the visitor given its 80 m high tower, its other twelve turrets and its defensive moat. Several courtyards and buildings can be visited, and it is even possible to climb the battlement tower and admire a panoramic view of the Segovian landscape from this marvellous vantage point. Beyond the walls of the historic quarter of Segovia there are beautiful squares, gardens and numerous Romanesque buildings to be discovered by the visitor. Thus, you can pay a visit to San Millán church, one of the best examples of Segovian 12th century art, with its Mozarabic tower, its atrium and its apses. San Clemente church with its blind arched apse and the outstanding Romanesque paintings at San Justo church are also worth visiting. For those who wish to see one of Segovia's best Mudejar coffered ceilings a visit to the San Antonio el Real monastery, once the summer residence of Henry IV, is a must. Once there you will also get a chance to admire 15th century Flemish works, as well as furniture, books, costumes and sculptures from the same period. Other visits worth making are to the House-Museum of the writer Antonio Machado, as well as the Esteban Vicente Contemporary Art Gallery, the latter being a world renowned artist. Completely outside the city centre we have San Lorenzo church (Romanesque with Mudejar tower) and Vera Cruz church (with its polygonal ground plan the design of which is attributed to the Order of the Holy Sepulchre), as well as the Santa Cruz la Real monastery (Isabeline Gothic in style) and El Parral monastery (a flamboyant Gothic building). Segovia Province Segovia province provides the visitor with several routes that will enable the visitor to get to know its history, art and culture. La Granja de San Ildefonso palace, the Valsaín Nature Visitor Centre and Riofrío palace and wood are just some of the attractions to be found on the Royal Site Tour. The Mudéjar Route familiarises you with this peculiar artistic style in places such as Santa María la Real de la Nieva, Coca and Cuellar. Another of the major attractions in Segovia is its Castle Route, where, in addition to going to see the defensive architecture of both Turégano and Castilnovo, we can also pay a visit to places with a specifically Medieval flavour such as Fuentepelayo and Sepúlveda. The exceptional scenery at Gorges of Duratón River Nature Reserve, and its Santiago church, will no doubt delight the most demanding of visitors. Should you wish to familairise yourself with the local, traditional architecture, you could do no better than going on the Mountain Villages Route, which will take you to places such as Sotosalbos, Pedraza and Riaza. Anywhere throughout the length and breadth of the province is a good place to savour Segovian cuisine. To the giant broad beans from La Granja, Castilian soup (garic and bread) and roast suckling pig and lamb, we can also add casseroles and game dishes. Both the Cantimpalo chorizo sausage and Segovian punch will no doubt live up to their well-earned fame. Ribera del Duero Designation of Origin wines excellently accompany these Segovian delicacies. The Parador Hotel restaurant in Segovia offers a wide menu from which we can choose to sample some of these dishes, prepared in a wood-fired oven. Its modern facilities provide visitors with marvellous views of the city.
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