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Daytrips & excursions from Madrid: Segovia

Situated 90 km (56 miles) from Madrid, Segovia is one of the most beautiful, monument-filled cities in Spain. The city, with medieval structure and narrow streets, has inherited the mixture of Muslim, Jewish and Christian cultures. This historical inheritance is reflected in three of the most representative monuments in the city: the Aqueduct, the Cathedral and the Alcázar. Just an hour from Madrid by car, Segovia’s well-known gastronomy makes it one of the most tempting excursions for those that visit Madrid.

Segovia
History of Segovia

The first historical marks of Segovia date back to Celtic times. However, Segovia was not considered a city until the Roman conquest in the first century B.C. During the Roman reign, Segovia was converted into an important military empire. In the splendour of this age, some of the most significant monuments of the city were built, with the patrimonial richness still conserved today.

During the centuries of Muslim invasion Segovia loses a great deal of its importance and the city loses many of its inhabitants. Only shepherds, people in transit and visitors lived in the area.

In the 10th century Segovia was conquered by the Christians with the help of Alfonso VI of Castile. The city was revitalized and recuperated some of its splendour. In the following centuries various monuments and churches were built. The 15th century was the golden century for Segovia – it consolidated its textile industry that reached world fame. Many noblemen built palaces in the city and kings spent long periods in the Alcázar.

The historical-monumental richness of the city gained official status after being declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1985.

Segovia tourism information

Segovia aqueduct
Cathedral of Segovia
Alcázar of Segovia
Granja de San Ildefonso Palace, near Segovia

Segovia's Plaza MayorThe Aqueduct of Segovia, situated in the center of the city, is the monument which has given the most fame to the city. It was constructed by the Romans between the 1st and 2nd centuries. Its purpose was transporting the water from the Acebeda River to the city. The water was transported a total of 19 km (11 miles), first through an underground conduction and later through the 166 arches that compose the aqueduct. The entire aqueduct was constructed without mortar or cement. A complicated study of equilibrium forces makes the ashlars, or stones that compose each of the arches, stay standing upright.

Right at the highest point of the city stands the impressive Cathedral of Segovia. Built between 1525 and 1577, this is the last Gothic temple of the 16th century. This cathedral, often refereed as the “Lady of Cathedrals”, is characterized by its unique floor layout surrounded by radial chapels and a semicircular sanctuary. The three principal entrances to the cathedral also stand out: the main, the north and the south. In the main entrance, facing the west to take advantage of the sunlight, sits the “Puerta del Perdón” gate, with an image of the Immaculate Virgin. At the southern entrance one can find the “Puerta de San Geroteo” gate (first bishop of Segovia). In the northern entrance, the “Puerta de San Frutos” gate (patron of Segovia) stands out.

A visit is also owed to the inner part of the city, where the Alcázar of Segovia can be found. The Alcázar of Segovia is a medieval fortress and favourite residence of the Castilian kings of that time. The origins of the building are uncertain and though there is evidence of Roman remains, the oldest testimony is from the 7th century. Its current appearance is owed, in great part, to the reconstruction after a fire in 1862. Its aesthetics of the “enchanted castle” has served as inspiration for reproductions such as the Sleeping Beauty Castle in California’s Disneyland.

The building, due to its military use, was constructed over a rock and possesses numerous secret pathways that go down until the river and connect with other buildings in the city. From the Alcázar one can enjoy the view of the Murallas (city walls) of the 6th century. The city walls are very well preserved and the three old city entrances can still be seen: the gates of San Andrés, San Cerbian, and Santiago.

The visiting hours for the Alcázar are from 10:00 a.m. until 7 p.m. in the summer (April to September) and from 10:00 a.m. to 7 p.m. in winter (October to March). The entry fee is 3.50€. For more information visit the official Web site.

While in Segovia, it is also recommendable to visit San Martin Church, the Church of Trinidad and the Casa de los Picos, a famous noble mansion of renaissance style that adopted its name from the peaks that adorn its façade. Another advisable visit is the Plaza de Azoguejo (next to The Aqueduct), Plaza Mayor (alongside the Cathedral) and strolling along the commercial streets of Cervantes and Juan Bravo.

Those that want to complete the trip to Segovia can head over to La Granja de San Ildefonso palace, just 11 km (7 miles) from Segovia. The Granja de San Ildefonso palace was initially designed in 1450, when Henry IV of Castile ordered construction of a hermitage dedicated to Archbishop San Ildefonso. In the 18th century the monarch Philip V of Spain, fascinated by the area, decided to turn a wasteland into the palace we know today. The monarch created a palace with the taste and style of his father (Louis XVI of France) residence: The Versalles Palace. The San Ildefonso palace is one of the most extravagant of the 18th century. It is emphasized by its roof, lights, spider lamps, Japanese lacquers... The group of the palace culminates with the colegiata, a chapel with Sabatini décor. On the exterior the impressive gardens (also of Versallesco style) stand out. From these gardens one can enjoy the magnificent views of the palace.

The Granja de San Ildefonso palace can be visited from 10:00 a.m. until 6 p.m. in summer (April to September). In winter, the palace can be visited from 10:00 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 3 to 5 p.m. Mondays is always closed and in winter time it is also closed on Sunday evenings.

Gastronomy in Segovia

The gastronomy in Segovia is one of its strong points. The city is full of bars and restaurants. Besides typical tapas, the Castilian city offers the possibility of eating in restaurants offering menus with prices averaging between 10€ and 15€.

The most traditional dishes in Segovia are roasted cordero lechal (lamb) and cochinillo (pork). These dishes are available in many of the restaurants throughout the city. The particularly famous Mesón Cándido (Plaza del Azoguejo 5. Tel. 921 425 911), is known for its kitchen and unique way of splitting the cochinillo with a plate. Other restaurants of interest are La Cocina de Segovia (Paseo Ezequiel González 26. Tel. 921 437 462) y el Mesón José María (Calle Cronista Lecea 11. Tel. 921 466 017). Reservations are recommended (they can be made a few hours before dining) since many people visit Segovia just to enjoy its gastronomy.

Transportation

By car: Segovia is situated 90 km (56 miles) to the northeast of Madrid, between the provinces of Avila, Soria and Valladolid. The trip from Madrid to Segovia lasts about an hour. The Granja de San Ildefonso is about 10 minutes before Segovia in the same direction. Visit Google Maps for more information on how to get to Segovia by car and how to get to La Granja de San Ildefonso.

By train: Trains heading to Segovia depart from the Atocha Station (Metro Atocha) and from the Chamartín Station (Metro Chamartín). A total of nine trains leave daily between 6:00 a.m. and 8 p.m. Each way takes about two hours and costs 5.45€ one-way and 9.20€ roundtrip. Consult with RENFE 902 240 202 for more information.

By bus: The La Sepulvedana bus line has a route direct from Madrid to Segovia between 6:30 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. The buses run every half hour and trip takes about 75 minutes (6€). The buses depart from the Príncipe Pío Station (Metro Príncipe Pío). La Sepulvedana also has buses from Segovia to La Granja de San Ildefonso.

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