The Spanish city of Segovia is about an hour and a half’s drive northwest of Madrid. The perched city belongs to the autonomous community of Castilla y León. Segovia is a lesser known pearl of history, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. And that is not entirely unjustified. For example, the most important and also completely complete Roman aqueduct in Spain is located here. But the compact historic center has much more to offer. There are many stories and legends behind the fairytale Alcázar, the many palaces, monasteries and the cathedral of Segovia. Because even within the royal families it is not always rose scent and moonshine. The sights of Segovia even extend far beyond the city walls. Palaces such as Palacio Real de La Granja de San Ildefonso and Palacio Real de Riofrío are definitely worth a visit. In addition to all this world heritage, the city of Segovia is also great in organizing festivities such as ‘Fiesta de San Lorenzo’ and Segovia Festival. And it also has a number of fascinating museums, cozy restaurants and extremely cozy bars.
Top 10 sights of Segovia
In the municipal coat of arms of the city of Segovia, a clear image of the ancient aqueduct is visible. It is therefore the symbol of the city. This extensive Roman structure was built around the first century. The span is no less than eight hundred and thirteen meters. But the entire route that the water travels is about fifteen kilometers. The aqueduct is supported by some two hundred and twenty-one pillars. An aqueduct served as a water supply at that time. In this way, water from a river or other water source could be brought further into the country, and then provided cities and villages with clean water. Here in Segovia, the water from the Río Frío was transported to the city in this way.
#2. Palacio Real de La Granja de San Ildefonso
According to localbusinessexplorer, the royal palace ‘Palacio Real de La Granja de San Ildefonso’ is located just outside the center of the city of Segovia, on the northern slope of the Sierra de Guadarrama. The palace was built within the hunting grounds of former kings. King Philip V of Spain ordered the construction of a summer residence in the eighteenth century. And then it just got better and bigger. The tomb of Philip V and his second wife Isabel de Farnese can also be visited in the palace church. Palacio Real de La Granja de San Ildefonso, also called ‘La Granja’, has always been an important place within the royal family ever since. Besides marriages, funerals and births, important political decisions were also taken in La Granja, such as the signing of the ‘Treaty of San Ildefonso’, a reaffirming secret alliance between France and Spain. Palacios Real de La Granja de San Ildefonso is nowadays mainly a sight with unprecedented popularity. Tourists like to visit this historic building, the living quarters and the surrounding estate. Palacios Real de La Granja de San Ildefonso is nowadays mainly a sight with unprecedented popularity. Tourists like to visit this historic building, the living quarters and the surrounding estate. Palacios Real de La Granja de San Ildefonso is nowadays mainly a sight with unprecedented popularity. Tourists like to visit this historic building, the living quarters and the surrounding estate.
#3. Cathedral of Segovia
The almost ninety-meter tower of the Cathedral of Santa María de Segovia towers over the city. It is therefore an easy landmark of the city of Segovia. Segovia Cathedral was built around the first half of the sixteenth century on the Plaza Mayor. The Gothic architectural style is clearly visible both on the outside and on the inside. The widely acclaimed architect Rodrigo Gil de Hontañón was appointed as master builder for this. The Cathedral of Segovia has about eighteen chapels, a beautiful altarpiece by Francisco Sabatini and very beautiful stained glass windows. The ancient cloister leads you to a museum.
The beautiful castle of Segovia is very similar to the fairytale castles in children’s books. And the history and legends may not be inferior either. The ‘Alcázar Real de Segovia’ on the Plaza de la Reina Victoria Eugenia, is a legacy from the nineteenth century. The previous palace was destroyed by a fire. There used to be a military defense fort on this spot. Only in the twelfth century was there talk of a castle, which served as a royal residence. The Alcázar gained real prestige in the fifteenth century, thanks to John II of Castile and later his son Henry IV of Castile. In particular, the announcement of the coronation of Isabel de Castilla as queen is inextricably linked to the Alcázar of Segovia. Her action is still seen as an example for political propaganda. Together with her husband Ferdinand II of Aragon, the first foundations of the Spanish monarchy are laid. By the eighteenth century, the Alcázar was hailed as the ‘Royal School of Artillery’. The military training that could be enjoyed here quickly achieved status. Today, the Alcázar is primarily a tourist destination. Enthusiasts can enjoy the Artillery Museum.
#5. Monasterio de El Parral
The northern monastery of El Parral was built around the fifteenth century by order of Herdrik IV. ‘Monasterio de Santa María del Parral’ is located just outside the center on the right bank of the Ersma river. The monastery belongs to the Order of St. Jerome. The monastery complex consists of several buildings, which show different architectural styles. You can discover, among other things, the Mudejar, Gothic and Plateresque style. Notable sights are the altarpiece of the Virgin Mary, the tombs of Juan Pacheco and his wife Maria de Portocarrero and the decorated doorway ‘Puerta de la antesacristía’.
#6. Museum of Segovia
The history of Segovia is told in this museum through archaeological, ethnological and other artifacts. Museo de Segovia is a cultural institution founded around 1842. Before the collections were exhibited in the current Casa de Sol, a lot preceded it. For example, the museum was first located in a bishop’s palace, then in Casa del Hidalgo and now in a beautiful building on Calle del Socorro. The collection of Museo de Segovia comes almost entirely from the province of Segovia. Among the showpieces are Islamic keys from the fourteenth century, jewels from the necropolis of Madrona, ceramics from long before the era, works by Albrecht Dürer and glassware from Royal Glass Factory of La Granja de San Ildefonso. But clothing, historical and contemporary paintings, sculptures and old coins also belong to the carefully composed collection.
#7. Plaza Mayor
One of the most vibrant squares in Segovia is Plaza Mayor. Known as the “heart of the city”, this centrally located square features historic architecture. Here you will find the apse of the cathedral, the church Iglesia San Miguel and the town hall with the two turrets. Plaza Mayor also guarantees fun. The restaurants and bars present often have a terrace that is filled from morning to evening. Tourists and residents enjoy all the goodies that Spain has to offer here. On Thursdays the local goods market can be found here.
#8. Casa Museo Antonio Machado
Antonio Machado was a poet of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He was born in Seville and later moved to Madrid with his family. This is where his love for the theater was born and the attraction to cities such as Paris became very enticing. Together with his brother this became reality and contact was quickly made with writers and poets such as Jean Moréas, Rubén Darío, Juan Ramón Jiménez and Paul Marie Verlaine. Encounters that would benefit his later own work. He finally arrived in Segovia in 1919 at retirement age, where he helped found the University of Segovia. And in 1927 he was elected a member of the Spanish Royal Academy. The modest house where he stayed at the time is now a museum. Casa Museo Antonio Machado on Calle de los Desamparados, shows how this acclaimed poet spent his days here fairly soberly. In addition to his own portrait, you can also admire works of art by Picasso and local artists.
#9. Palacio Real de Riofrio
The red colored palace ‘Palacio Real de Riofrío’ belongs to the royal family of Spain. The palace is located a few kilometers southwest of the city of Segovia, in a wooded area. It was built by order of King Fernando VI for his mother Isabel de Farnesio, wife of Philip V. He wanted her away from him because she interfered too much with him. As architect, Virgilio Rabaglio was hired who collaborated with Pedro Sermini. It became Rabaglio’s most important work. In the end, Fernando VI died before it was finished and the Isabel de Farnesio never lived there. Finally, the doors of Palacio Real de Riofrío were opened to the public in 1965. From that period it was possible for ordinary citizens to admire the inside of the palace. The royal residences are richly decorated and furnished with furniture, sculptures and tapestries from between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries. There are also regular changing exhibitions to admire.
#10. Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Esteban Vicente
On the Plaza Bellas Artes is the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Esteban Vicente. This museum has an inspiring collection of art that can mainly be characterized as abstract expressionist. This is not very strange, since the museum is named after Esteban Vicente, master of this art movement. Later, Vicente even devoted part of his life to teaching abstract expressionism at leading institutions in America. Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Esteban Vicente is housed in a medieval building that once belonged to King Henry IV of Castile.