During Lauren’s spring break, my dad and sister made the transatlantic trek to visit Madrid. Outside of the Palacio Real, El Rastro, Puerta del Sol, Parque de Retiro, and all the other sites of Madrid, we took a high-speed train 30 minutes north of Madrid to see the historical city of Segovia.
Alcázar de Segovia
This name literally means “Segovia Castle”. The Spanish are really creative when naming their fortresses. This particular castle dates back to the 11th century and was predated by Roman ruins in its place. The Alcázar is one of the favorite residences of the monarchs of the Kingdom of Castile and a key fortress in the defense of the kingdom.
The Alcázar was originally built as a fortress but has served as a royal palace, a state prison, a Royal Artillery College and a military academy since then. The castle was a partial replica of the original rooms, and the other part a museum dedicated to the Royal Artillery College. We walked through the draft hallways and stone rooms and fantasized about what is was like to be there a thousand years ago. Lauren even managed to find herself a knight in shining armor.
In addition to touring the castle, we walked 152 steps to the tower where we got a bird’s eye view of the beautiful city.
The Cathedral of Segovia
The Cathedral of Segovia is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and is one of the last Gothic cathedrals built in Spain, and even in Europe. Construction began on the cathedral in 1525, and it was not completed and consecrated until 1768. AKA this church took 243 years to complete! Talk about taking your time!
PERSPECTIVE: The United States is only 239 years old. So yeah, there’s that.
Naturally, the church was extraordinarily beautiful; with unique chapels surrounding the main alter. The cathedral was complete with a tower and a cloister.
Although, if you are going in the winter, bring your coat. We went in early spring and the cathedral was probably 10 degrees colder inside than out!
And last but not least, the signature of Segovia…the Roman Aqueducts. The 36 semi-circular arches forming the aqueduct dates back the 1st century AD and is built strictly of un-mortared, brick-like granite blocks. The structure transported water from the Fuente Fria (uniquely named the “Cold Fountain”) in the nearby mountains some 17 km away. The aqueduct continued to provide water to Segovia until the mid 19th century. Today, the Roman Aqueduct is one of the most significant and best-preserved monuments left on the Iberian Peninsula and it has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If it sounds amazing on screen (which I am sure it does after that little history lesson), just imagine what it was like to see in person.
We just couldn’t get enough. So we got ice cream and ate it next to the aqueduct. We sat on a bench next to the aqueduct. We took up close pictures of the aqueduct. We laid on a hill by the aqueduct. We took panoramic pictures of the aqueduct. Then we took some more pictures of the aqueduct. Basically we loved the aqueduct!
After some serious bonding time with the aqueduct, we headed back to the train station for a one-way ride back to the wonderful city of Madrid.
The City of the Ancient Aqueduct: Check. To hear more about my study abroad experience, check out my next blog, The Luck of the Irish.