Saturday, October 13, 2012

Segovia - More than Aqueducts

We love day trips - the opportunity to expand the area of exploration while leaving big backpacks back at the hotel - travel doesn't get much better. After rather successful day trips in both Kotor (to Perast) and Split (to Trogir), we were ready to try our hand again in Madrid.

Although the five days we had could have been dedicated solely to Madrid, and we still wouldn't have seen everything, the outlying destinations reachable in under and hour and a half are staggering and well deserving of a look too (Wikitravel's Madrid page is a good jumping off point when planning). After much discussion we settled on Segovia and Toledo and started pulling up train schedules.

Less than thirty minutes (and 21 Euro RT) from Madrid by train, Segovia won us over with the promise of ancient Aqueducts and an Alcazar so grand as to inspire Walt Disney (it's rumored to be the model for Cinderella's castle). After a short, yet bumpy, bus ride from the train station, we were dropped off in the main square where the aqueduct looms overhead at it's highest point (28 meters) - a pretty impressive greeting to the city. 

Our first glimpse of the aqueducts

Shadows on the square

A church peeking through

The aqueduct is spectacular, originally built by the Romans in the late 1st Century AD to supply water to the military fort on the hill, and if it was the only sight in Segovia we'd still highly recommend a visit - but it's not. The little city is full of winding cobblestone streets, charming cafes, and shops to explore. Segovia is also home to an enormous gothic style Cathedral, and although we couldn't find an entrance the exterior easily rivals anything we've seen to date.

Quiet Segovia streets

Morning paper in the park

Looking back on the Cathedral belltower

The Cathedral and it's amazing architecture

Finally, when you're completely smitten with the little city you come to the Alcazar. Perched on the side of a hill, with views out over the surrounding countryside, the Alcazar is what ever little girl dreams of when playing princess. Built sometime around the 11th Century, it's uses have varied throughout history and include home to the royal court of the Trastamara Dynasty, residence of Isabella the Catholic, site of the wedding of Phillip II, home of the Spanish Artillery Academy, and now currently a museum and Military Archive. Although we were a bit to stingy to pay the 6 Euro entry fee, the exterior offered plenty of photo opportunities and there is a shaded park out front with plenty of places to sit and rest before the hike back to the main square. 

Alcazar and lovely little gardens

Close up of the turret details

Overall, our day trip to Segovia was a roaring success, and set the bar high for our visit to Toledo the following day. The city was easily explorable in just one day and a nice change from the busy streets of Madrid. 

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Hey there!

Calli and Travis returned from a four month trip through Europe more excited than ever to hit the open road. Who knows where they'll end up next...

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