An idyllic day trip destination from Madrid and a wonderful small city that exudes Golden Age grandeur and authentic Castilian charm, Segovia sits proudly on a high promontory overlooking the arid Castilian plain. Framed by two rivers and dominated by the presence of a spectacular Roman aqueduct that connects the historic upper town to the commercial lower town, Segovia enchants with its medieval architecture and an impressive number of historic monuments.
Twenty centuries of history are crammed between Segovia’s borders, much of it whispering its tales within the walls of the beautiful Alcazar castle, once a favorite residence of the Spanish royalty. Wander along the streets of the old town of Segovia and you’ll discover a panoply of exquisite mansions and majestic squares testament to the royal past of the city when it was a base for the Cortes (parliament) and the place where Isabel la Catolica was proclaimed queen of Castile in 1474.
The Aqueduct of Segovia – awe-inspiring and impossible to miss
One of the main attractions in Segovia, the roman Aqueduct is an overwhelming presence that dominates the city’s skyline. Whilst simple in architecture, the Aqueduct subdues with its size and impeccably-preserved aspect. The aqueduct dates back to the 1st century AD when it was built during the time of Emperor Domitian to supply water from the Rio Frio to the city. It is 728 m long and 28 m high and dazzles with 167 arches built on two levels from granite blocks with no mortar. To make things even more incredible, the aqueduct was actually used until the middle of the 19th century. Climb the stairs at the end of the aqueduct to capture superb views of Segovia.
Alcazar of Segovia – the fairy tale castle of Segovia
One of the most famous castles in Spain, the Alcazar of Segovia enchants and impresses from the first glance. Thought to have been a muse for Walt Disney’s Cinderella castle, this majestic structure perched on a rocky headland lies on Roman foundations and started as a Moorish wooden fortress. While you can still admire Islamic architecture dating back to the times when Spain was ruled by the Moors, after the Reconquista in 1085, when Segovia was taken over by the Spanish, the castle was extended and embellished with Spanish architecture. After the 1862 fire, when most of the castle’s upper parts were burnt down, the castle was rebuilt and enriched with the fairy tale spiraling towers and turrets you can admire today. Tourists can visit 12 rooms touched by Gothic, Moorish, and Romanesque muses, and climb onto an 80 m high terrace to admire Segovia and its countryside.
Segovia Cathedral – a striking example of grandiose Gothic style
Majestic and robust, the cathedral of Segovia is a superb example of Gothic architecture. Built from beautiful golden stone, this remarkable colossal structure manages to exude a graceful air due to its stone embroideries and staged chevet. The cathedral was built under the reign of Charles V and took about 50 years to reach its current splendor. While its exterior is massive, the interior is light and elegant and adorned with fabulous naves.
The Old Town and City Walls – testaments to Segovia’s rich past
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Segovia’s old town is an enchanting destination for history buffs and romantics who love to stroll on narrow cobbled streets while admiring architectural gems. The old town awaits between the Alcazar and aqueduct and is easy to explore on foot. A cultural melting pot, this area is a testament of the coexistence of the Moors, Christians, and Jews and leads you to superb views of the castle and aqueduct, as well as to beautiful churches, such as the San Millan, Vera Cruz, and Synagogue Mayor. Wrapped around the castle, you’ll discover the medieval walls of Segovia, ideal for a long walk back in time in a peaceful atmosphere.
Eat like the locals do – try the Segovia cochinillo and Spanish omelet
Segovia delights visitors with a rich variety of traditional dishes but there’s no specialty more famous than the conchinillo asado or roasted suckling pig. Made following strict feeding and cooking rules, this specialty can often be found in the menus of local restaurants like Jose Maria Restaurant, considered on the best places for suckling pig in the country, Meson don Jimeno that also adds bean stew and delicious homemade desserts to your Segovian feast, and Meson de Candido that garnishes the tasty cochinillo with superb views of the aqueduct. Don’t leave Segovia without savoring a Spanish omelet at one of the many restaurants in Plaza Mayor, Segovia’s main square.