The city tucks in some of the most beautiful architecture you can ever find. Take in the delightful sights of this World Heritage Site
I'm standing in open-mouthed awe, and so are the other visitors — over 500 years old, with intricate scenes woven into 80 sq.mt., these works of art command open-mouthed awe! We are at the Museo de Tapices (Tapestry Museum) in the 300-room Palaico Real in La Granja de San Ildefonso.
Driving from Madrid to Segovia, I stop at La Granja (12 km east of Segovia), and discover its treasures — one of them being the Tapestry Museum. La Granja was Bourbon King Felipe V's attempt at recreating a miniature of Versailles, the palace of his French grandfather Louis XIV. The rooms are worth wandering through — a treasure trove of paintings, sculptures and intricate chandeliers. But it's the grounds with its 28 fountains that lend La Granja its charm — depicting myths such as the Apollo and the Baths of Diana.
And, now to Segovia.
Local girl Rebecca Martin is my guide around Segovia, and within a few minutes, I realise how fond she is of the city. But then, it's only natural — Segovia, peppered with monuments, is charming!
Segovia's most famous structure is its Aqueduct, and it bursts into view spectacularly around a corner at the centre of the town. Twenty eight mt at its highest, this 728-mt granite block bridge with 163 arches is an engineering marvel constructed by the Romans in the 1st Century AD, to source water from the mountains 15 km away.
After a scrumptious lunch (including the Segovian speciality cochinillo — roast suckling pig) at Meson de Candido, just by the aqueduct, we walk along Calle Real.
The calle (street) winds its way up from Plaza del Azoguejo (where the aqueduct is), into the heart of Segovia. Along the way are appealing little squares, the most captivating being Plaza de San Martin, with a statue of Juan Bravo. Calle Real leads to Plaza Mayor, the main square, dominated by the Cathedral on one side and surrounded by a motley of eclectic buildings, arcades and Tapas Bars. As kids run around a cupola, I take in the powerful expression of Gothic architecture in Spain — the Cathedral. Built over 200 years, it has 20 chapels within, each of them a masterpiece. Especially the Capilla del Cristo del Consuelo that houses a magnificent Romanesque doorway. It's a lovely place from where one can quietly take in the high-vaulted ceilings, the art all around, and marvel at what prompted men to build such lavish temples.
Ten minutes down Calle Real from the Cathedral is Alcazar, built during the Muslim reign between the 8th and 11th Centuries.
The fairy-tale appearance of the castle, with its turrets and moats, is said to have inspired Walt Disney to draw Sleeping Beauty's palace. Interestingly, this Alcazar is a reconstruction of the original that burned down in 1862.
Another church worth visiting is the 12-sided Iglesia de la Vera Cruz, one of the best preserved in Europe. Believed to be built by the Knights Templar in the 13th Century and modelled on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, it's said to have housed a piece of the Vera Cruz — the cross on which Christ was crucified. The relic is now housed in the nearby village church of Zamarramala, and is on view during Easter.
It is these jewels of Medieval and Renaissance architecture — the aqueduct, the Cathedral, the Alcazar and the many other churches and houses — that prompted UNESCO to recognise the quaint city of Segovia as a World Heritage Site.
Sadly, many tourists make only a day trip to Segovia. Little do they realise that as night gradually falls, this charming place throbs with lively cafes and bars, offering a tapas here and a Sangria there.