Segovia: a Historical Pearl in Central Spain

Outside of Madrid, you will find a variety of smaller cities that are waiting to be explored. Segovia is one of them, just an hour's drive from Madrid, featuring a rich history and plenty to see! We will show you why it is necessary to visit this town in the Castille and Leon region, central Spain. 
 
For starters, an incredible cathedral and numerous other Roman churches, an impressive Alcazar, and a picturesque Old Town together make up a UNESCO World Heritage site, declared in 1985. Together with the neighboring Toledo - Spanish Capital of Gastronomy 2016 - and other more well-known cities such as Granada and Sevilla, Segovia ranks among the top 10 romantic destinations in all of Spain!

The Roman Aqueduct 

Aquaduct, Segovia
 
Most impressive in Segovia is undoubtedly the colossal monument that makes the city stand out among other historical Spanish towns: its Roman Aqueduct. 
 
The Aqueduct of Segovia is the largest and best preserved of the Ancient Roman Empire and is a whopping 28 meters high! Your mouth might drop as you look up and realize that the granite stone was stacked thousands of years ago by mere human hands. All this time, the huge stones - through a kind of wondrous power - have defied the elements and remain firmly in place. 
 
The Aqueduct was a project of prestige, and transported water from the Sierra mountain range to the town's people over a distance of 15 kilometers!

From Roman to Moorish to Spanish Domination 

Iglesia de San Martín, Segovia

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the region was settled by people from Northern Europe, which was then invaded by the Arabs. Segovia has since been the capital of various Moorish kingdoms.
 
In 1088, the city was conquered by Alfonso VI, King of León and Castile. Segovia became a royal residence, seat of the bishop, and a prosperous trading center. It is in this flourishing period that most Romanesque monuments originated.

Churches and bars and plazas, oh my! 

Segovia

From the bus station (see "practical information" at the bottom of this article), walk towards the Aqueduct and the historic center through the Fernández Ladreda promenade, lined with bars and cafes. Here you'll notice the first romantic churches from the 11th and 12th centuries!
 
After these, you will encounter the imposing Aqueduct, and from there you can continue walking through a string of streets (Cervantes, Juan Bravo, Plaza del Corpus, Isabel la Católica) which opens into the Plaza Mayor.

The Striking Casa de los Picos

Terras, Segovia

Along the way you'll pass the Casa de los Picos, a mansion that has come to be famous for its distinctive facade of small granite pyramids, as well as the terrace of Restaurante El Asador Bernardino that boasts a lovely view!

Stay Awhile in Plaza Mayor

Once you have reached Plaza Mayor, you have to visit the beautiful Cathedral! It gives the square an elegant, sophisticated, and a kind of Italian flair. Sit on the terrace of La Concepción, a delightful place to have breakfast for example with a nice view of the cathedral!
 
In the plaza, there is also Iglesia de San Miguel, a Gothic church where Isabel I of Castile in 1474 was crowned Queen of Castile. This moment was a highlight for Segovia during the period of the Trastámara dynasty.

A Little Tapas With Your History?

Segovia

A Segovian tapas favourite is located in a side street of the Infanta Isabel street bar El Figon de los Comuneros. It translates literally to "the eating of the Castilian rebels against Charles V".
 
Indeed, in 1521 there was an uprising against the nobility. The people wanted to transfer the power out of the hands of Charles V and his administration in the wake of political instability. The revolution was dubbed the Revolt of the Comuneros. The revolutionaries lost, but at the Medina del Campo square you will find the statue of Juan Bravo, one of the leaders of the rebellion.

The Alcázar: a Medieval Fairy Tale Castle 

Segovia - Alcazar

Segovia has a nickname: the Stone Ship. This is due to the profile of the historical gem that pops into view behind the Plaza Mayor: the Alcázar (Arabic for castle). It dates from the 12th century and balances elegantly on a mountain of rocks.
 
The romantic design and the pink colour are reminiscent of the Walt Disney palace, and in fact, Segovia's Alcázar was one of the inspirations used in designing the Disney World Cinderella castle!
 
You get to the castle through the main gate, a kind of front yard with beautiful views of the Spanish countryside. Next, you will need to cross a real drawbridge over the castle moat to enter the castle. 
 
Uitzicht vanaf het park bij het kasteel, Segovia
 
During the Middle Ages, the Alcázar was the favourite residence of the kings of Castile, which was originally a Moorish fortress until the 15th century, continuously being expanded and rebuilt until it was made into a full castle and Royal Court. A fire in 1862 unfortunately destroyed part of the roof, but the Alcázar was restored in the same style.
 
Inside the fortified palace, there is a lot of Moorish influence, such as in the Patio de Armas (Arms Square) and Patio del Reloj (Clock Square). The King Room and the Throne Room are where the Catholic Kings Fernando II and Isabel I once sat on the throne! The lances and other armour from the Middle Ages make this a nice visit to the past.
 
For practical information such as tickets and prices, see bottom of this article!

The Segovian Gardens

Tuin van Segovia

A nice feature of Segovia is that the old part of the city does not really feel like a city
 
Around the castle and along the city wall, you can walk through gardens such as the Paseo del Salón. You'll notice a green, almost rural feel to the city and get to take in amazing, calming views, as in the picture above.
 
In the neighbourhood behind the San Miguel Church, you will feel like you are strolling through a maze of alleys and squares, which lead to historical treasures like the San Esteban church, or cozy bars and restaurants with excellent patios. In the summer, the weather is gorgeous and the atmosphere in this small town with no more than 55,000 inhabitants is simple and relaxed. A nice retreat from the hustle and bustle of larger cities in Spain!

So, Where is the Best Food in Segovia?

Mesón de Cándido, Segovia

For a traditional Spanish cuisine, you have come to the right place. The local specialty is suckling pig from the oven, an authentic setting of ancient restaurants. 
 
Check out these restaurants for a good start into the best gastronomy the city has to offer!
 
Meson de Candido: Perhaps the longest-standing restaurant, since 1884. Reflected in all kinds of paintings, medals, and photos of famous figures in history. The location near the Aqueduct is excellent, and you can also dine upstairs with a view of the monument. (Address: Plaza Azoguejo 5. Website: www.mesondecandido.es/)
 
Conde Duque: This restaurant with its strikingly authentic interior is almost as famous historical. It was almost the first restaurant of Segovia in 1895. Besides the traditional dishes you can enjoy a delicious daily menu during the week. (Address: Calle de Cervantes, 12. Website: http://www.restauranteduque.es/)
 
Restaurante José María: This eating place offers not only a renowned traditional cuisine also excellent wines from its cellar. Nice also to be here just to drink a glass of wine, along with a tapa among the dried hams at the bar. (Address: Calle Cronista Lecea, 11 Website: http://restaurantejosemaria.com/)
 
Restaurante Asador El Bernardino: Here you can enjoy the terrace with the best view. (Address: Calle Cervantes 2. Website: www.elbernardino.com/)
 
El Figon de los Comuneros: Tapas Favorite among the Segovianen. (Address: Travesía del Patín 4. http://www.figondeloscomuneros.com/)

Practical Information For Visiting the Alcázar

Zicht op de Torre de Juan van het Alcázar paleis

The Alcázar is open almost every day of the year. It is closed all day on December 25th and 31st, January 6th, and the Day of the Alcázar (usually sometime in late June or early July). On December 24th and January 5th, it is open only until 14:00h.
 
Opening hours:
Summer season (April to September): 10:00h - 19:30h
Winter season (November to March): 10:00h - 18:30h
October: Friday and Saturday until 19:30h, the rest of the week: 10:00h -18:30h
 
Tickets are available at the counter up to 30 minutes before closing. The desk is located in the Casa de la Química, next to the fort. Tickets are only valid the day of purchase.
Tickets are also available quickly and easily via the website. Avoid any queues or problems of availability!
 
Rates:
Access to the palace and museum: € 5.50
Access to the Torre de Juan: € 2
Combination ticket Palace Museum and Torre de Juan: € 7.50
 
**Note: The Torre de Juan is closed due to renovation until June 30th, 2016. The tower ticket and combination ticket until that time not available. Torre de Juan overlooks the old town of Segovia.
 
Discounted tickets (€ 3.50) for:
Children 5 to 16 years in age, families of 3+ children, students, seniors 65+, the unemployed, accompanied by official guides, disabled (from 33%). Also available for groups of 20 people from the same organization, with a manager who buys tickets all at once. The manager will receive free admission.
 
Free entrance:
Tuesdays, between 14:00h and 16:00h to all residents of the European Union.
Children younger than 5, official guides, disabled (65%).

Other Tips and Info

Segovia, zicht vanaf het kasteel

Segovia is famous for its Semana Santa or Holy Easter week, to which a statue is dedicated in the historic centre of town. Although it can be very cold in winter, the parade of the Three Kings (los Reyes Magos) is the evening of January 5th, a magical experience with the fairytale Alcázar palace in the background!
 
Wondering where can you stay in Segovia? Why not stay outside of the city center - the province of Segovia is home to many quaint and beautiul cottages. If staying more than one day, definitely enjoy both the center town and the surrounding countryside!
 
Getting there by public transportation from Madrid is very accessible. You can get to Segovia with the AVE fast train or by bus. (Ordinary train is not recommended for a day trip, as it takes quite a bit longer than the high-speed train). 
 
As previously mentioned, you can catch buses to and from the bus station of Segovia Sepulveda and it is within walking distance of the Aqueduct and the Old Town (see map below). The AVE Train Guiomar is 6 kilometers from the center, but is connected by buses 11 or 12 (Bus 11 stops at the Aqueduct). The AVE train arrives nearly twice as fast as the bus, in just about half an hour. 
 
If you're looking for other places to see in the region, visit Salamanca, a nearby city with a beautiful old town and UNESCO World Heritage site too!

Map

 

Country house in Cembranos

  • 3 bedrooms
  • sleeps 7
  • 2 bathrooms
  • 1 toilet
  • 90 m² living area
  • 30 m² terrace
  • 100 m² garden
  • Outside jacuzzi
  • Wi-Fi
Id: 37340 Add to shortlist Remove Remove
£ 592 - 683/week £ 137 - 155/night Show details

Villa in Castronuño

  • 5 bedrooms
  • sleeps 10
  • 4 bathrooms
  • 4 toilets
  • 500 m² living area
  • 200 m² terrace
  • 4000 m² garden
  • Private pool
  • Wi-Fi
Id: 45658 Add to shortlist Remove Remove
£ 2,003/week £ 364/night Show details

Apartment in Anaya

  • 2 bedrooms
  • sleeps 4
  • 2 bathrooms
  • 1 toilet
  • 90 m² living area
  • Wi-Fi
  • Balcony
  • Patio
  • Terrace
Id: 26168 Add to shortlist Remove Remove
£ 919/week £ 132/night Show details
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