Segovia On a Budget
SightsAs far as historical and architectural importance go, Segovia's aqueduct, palace, and cathedral are the big three attractions. The aqueduct, which is 28 meters at its highest point, was built by the Romans in the 1st century to supply water to the Roman military fort on the hill. This fort lies at the foundations of what is now the Alcazar of Segovia-or the royal palace. The fort has crumbled to ruins and is overshadowed by the castle, which is unique in shape-resembling the bow of a ship-and complete with two courtyards, two towers, and a keep. Alcazar was a favorite residence for royalty, such as Alfonso X the Wise and Henry IV, and today houses the General Military Archives of Segovia and a museum of the Royal School of Artillery.
The Segovia Cathedral, which began construction in the mid-16th century, is renowned as the last Gothic cathedral to be built in Spain. Featuring three tall vaults, an ambulatory, fine tracery windows, and numerous stained glass windows, the cathedral is considered a masterpiece of Basque-Castilian Gothic architecture and is known as "The Lady of Cathedrals." Other works of architecture worth noting include the Casa de los Picos or "The House of the Points," whose unique facade dates to the Renaissance, as well as the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso, an 18th century summer palace located just outside of the city. Be sure to also take note of the medieval walls of Segovia that enclose the Old Town.
NeighborhoodsSegovia's historic center lies within the Old Town, which is enclosed by fortress walls. Alfonso VI of Leon and Castile had the walls enlarged and extended in the 11th century, though they existed from Roman times. While there were originally five gates, today the walls of Segovia have three gates still preserved: San Cebrian, Santiago, and San Andres. For exploring the Old Town, Azoguejo Square is a great place to start. A trading spot in Roman times, it is at this square where the aqueduct reaches its highest point of 28 meters. The charming old buildings of the market square are also host to plenty of cafes, eateries, shops, and hotels. Plaza Mayor is another central meeting place, located right at the base of Segovia's cathedral. It is situated closer to the Old Town center and is also near restaurants, hotels, shops, and other amenities.
ActivitiesMost of the locations for sightseeing are in the old part of the city, which is easily navigable on foot. One of the best ways to experience Segovia is to walk and sightsee at your own pace. Spend some time in the public squares, soak up the culture, and embark on a historical journey within medieval walls, through Gothic churches, and beneath Roman aqueducts. There are also plenty of exhibition spaces that are great for learning about the art, history, and culture of the area. The Museum of Segovia, for example, is just one of many-containing artifacts, models, and art related to the history, culture, and lifestyle of the city and surrounding region.
For those looking to enjoy the outdoors, Segovia also has a number of gardens worth visiting. One of the oldest gardens is the Paseo del Salon, created in 1786. Perhaps the most historic are the Alcazar Gardens, which were originally created on the occasion of the marriage of Philip II to Anne of Austria in 1570, though they were not complete until the 18th and 19th centuries. One of the most beautiful, however, is the Garden of la Merced, which was the first city-planned public garden within city walls.
Food and DiningTraditional cuisine in Segovia largely centers on oven roasted meats as the main dish. These include meats like "cochinillo" or roasted suckling pig, "cordero" or roasted lamb, and veal or beef. Other common meals include a variety of soups and stews, including Castilian garlic soup, La Granja bean stew, and a myriad of game stews. Sausage and some fishes can be found in dishes as well, while tapas are popular throughout Spain and can include any variety of ingredients in appetizer-sized portions. Tapas are often accompanied with drinks, and there are plenty of local wines to sample in Segovia. Desserts include things like ponche segoviano (a cinnamon cake soaked in sweet liqueur), a pastry known as florones, rice pudding, and a sweet crispy pastry called fijuelas.
TransportationThe best prices for buses and trains in Spain can be found on Omio (formerly GoEuro). They let you search across all train, bus, and plane routes throughout Europe.
Segovia is located about 50 miles northwest of Madrid, where most international visitors choose to fly in. Adolfo Suarez Madrid–Barajas Airport in Madrid is the nearest major airport to Segovia. From Madrid, Segovia is about one hour away by bus, two hours by the Cercanias Madrid commuter train, or thirty minutes by AVE (Alta Velocidad Espanola) high speed train.