A beautiful and romantic city
A Royal Decree issued the 11th of October of 1884 declared the Aqueduct of Segovia as an Artistic Historical Monument; this title would also be received, some time later, by other buildings like the Tower of San Esteban, Monastery of El Parral, the Vera Cruz Church and the Alcázar -fortress-. In 1941, this declaration became extensive to all the ancient district of the city and in 1947 the orchards and groves surrounding it, were recognized as “Paraje Pintoresco” (Picturesque Site), and worthy of protection.
Finally, in 1985, UNESCO culminated the process declaring Segovia City as World Heritage. Everything in the city, houses and walls, palaces and temples, towers and trees that compete in majesty with the towers, they are linked and interlaced forming a singular framework of narrow streets and squares gathered together or unexpectedly opened to suggestive perspectives, in which it is difficult to establish the limits between gilded stones and a vegetation which the seasons dress in a changing, splendid color.
Aqueduct of Segovia
The unique Aqueduct of Segovia is one of the most magnificent works that the Romans left distributed along their vast empire. It was constructed to provide Segovia with water from the mountains; it is a city’s heraldic symbol and its construction was attributed to the devil on behalf of a legend. Hypotheses aim at the century in times of the Flavians, and also at the time of Nerva or Trajan, which does not prevent to consider it as one of the best Spanish civil engineering constructions.
Its 166 granite stone from Guadarrama arches are constructed by ashlars attached without any mortar, by means of an ingenious equilibrium of forces. Extraordinary work, in which the utility coexists with the harmony and the beauty, has served the city until recent days. Throughout the centuries, it has undergone practically no modifications. Only during the attack against Segovia directed in 1072 by Al-Mamún from Toledo, 36 arches underwent deterioration; the damages were restored in the XV century by Fray Juan de Escobedo, monk of El Parral.
Since ancient times, two vaulted-niches existed, probably to protect pagan gods, and where replaced in time of Catholic Monarchs by the images of St Sebastian and the Virgin. Under the vaulted-niches a legend in bronze letters, relative to the foundation of the bridge, existed, of which only the sign of the inscription is left nowadays.
Cathedral of Segovia
The Playa Mayor is framed by the beautiful pinnacles of the apse of the Cathedral, evening rallying point of the storks. Late Gothic styled, it began to be constructed in 1525, with the selfless collaboration of the Segovians, under the direction of architects Gil de Hontañón family. It replaced the former Cathedral located in the current gardens of the Alcazar and destroyed during the War of the Regions in 1520.
In its exterior, to the west, the main façade stands, well-known as “Puerta del Perdón” (Absolution Gate), with the sculpture of the Virgin Immaculate, a work by Juan Guas. Next to it, the “Enlosado” extends, a space used for cultural activities. The tower, located on the Epistle side, is one of the most showy elements due to its imposing height, and it has been inhabited by the bellman until the mid 20th century. It constitutes a privileged viewpoint over the city.
The Alcázar of Segovia
Its profile seems an imaginary ship on the point where the Eresma and Clamores rivers come together, festooned by the blue and ocher shades of the plain and the mountains. It is preceded by beautiful gardens with the statue of the Independence War heroes Daoiz and Velarde, sculpted by the Segovian artist Aniceto Marinas. To the left the House of Chemistry, constructed during the Illustration period and research center of Louis Proust.
To both sides of the castle, splendid views of the Pinarillo (with the Jewish cemetery) and the Vera Cruz Church and Zamarramala village can be appreciated. A deep moat with drawbridge grants access to a privileged located Fortress, possibly inhabited since the time of the Celts. The castle, turned into an Alcázar – royal residence - will acquire its Gothic appearance during the times of Juan II and Enrique IV (13th century). Its restoration has been continuous after a serious fire occurred in 1862 that nearly destroyed it definitively. Nevertheless, in 1882, reigning Alfonso XII, its reconstruction began, never to be stopped by the Alcázar Institution (Patronato del Alcázar), that has been recovering coffered ceilings, friezes, altarpieces and walls.
Monastery of El Parral
This monastery was built in 1447, ordered by Enrique IV, although the legend attributes the foundation to Juan de Pacheco, Marquis of Villena. It is a complex of constructions distributed around several Gothic, Mudejar and Plateresque cloisters.
Abandoned after the 1836 disentailment and plundered, its reconstruction came after being declared National Monument in 1914 and again occupied by monks of the Hieronymite Order in the year 1927.
On the façade of the monastic, unfinished church, the Pacheco family coat of arms are emphasized and an elegant tower finished off with plateresque crenelations, built by the Segovian Juan Campero; its interior, with a nave, a tribune, lateral chapels and polygonal head wing, follows the model of Hieronymite constructions being a work by architect Juan Guas.
Among the exceptional works of art within this temple the following stand out: the sacristy, Beatriz Pacheco’s tomb and the Apostles that frames the high large windows of the front, by the sculptor Sebastián de Almonacid; and the plateresque ensemble formed by the central altarpiece, carved in wood, and the monumental sculptures of Juan Pacheco and his wife, Maria de Portocarrero, built by the sculptors Juan Rodríguez and Lucas Giraldo.
Walls of Segovia
The walls surrounding the city, with a perimeter of more than 3,000 meters, starts and finishes in the Alcázar. It was built out of limestone masonry, placed, partly on great granite ashlars. For its construction, headstones from the ancient Roman necropolis were also used.
It had five gates: Santiago, San Cebrián, San Juan, San Martín and San Andrés. Only those of Santiago and San Cebrián in the north side, and San Andrés in the south side remain. In addition, it had several passages: Alcázar, Fuente Cercada Picado or San Matías, San Juan, Consuelo, La Luna, El Sol and the Arzobispo. Nowadays, Consuelo and San Juan are the only ones conserved, and those of El Sol and La Luna have been reconstructed.
San Millán Church
San Millán Church, located at the outskirts of the city, beyond the walls, is pure Romanesque style with Aragonese influence as it reproduces the floor of the cathedral of Jaca (in the province of Aragon). It has three naves divided by pillars with embedded columns alternating with big supporting columns.
The front shows three apses, although externally there are four as the north gallery ends in a small apse. It has three monumental gatesways in each flank and two arcade galleries were added in the southern and northern flanks.