Segovia is awesome and I’m not the only one that thinks so. Segovia is one of the Spanish cities competing to be chosen as European capital of culture in 2016!
When you’re traveling in a new city with a different language you’re bound to have some trouble. Now for a two-week trip everything went perfectly to plan until we tried to get to Segovia. Unlike Toledo, the AVE train to Segovia is north of Madrid, Chamartin train station. To get to Chamartin we had to take a combination of subway and metro to cut time. There might have been some confusion and we had a little less time then we would have liked to find our AVE train at Chamartin. We might have jumped on one train that sad Segovia that quickly closed it’s doors and we were stuck! Were we going to Segovia? A street named Segovia? Or who knows what else?
Two hours later in anger and in silence with some beautiful mountain views we did end up in Segovia, only over an hour longer than we planned. Turns out you can take a high speed rail, or a local commuter rail, only difference is the view, one goes over mountains, one goes through, and the time. The difference in cost was a few Euros as well but not that bad. The train also arrives at the old station vs. the new station and that my friends is a whole story for the end.
In About 8 minutes you are greeted with one of the most fairy-tale skyline I have ever seen. The star of it all is the Segovia Alcazar.
It is said that the Segovia Alcazar is the inspiration for the castle in Sleeping Beauty (below).
One of the coolest parts about the castle, was how you go about to get up the hill. It’s surrounded by a moat and a wilderness area that has an awesome trail around it. I even saw a runner or two there as we walked. You then cross a bridge and go up a long staircase to keep in theme with the fairy-tale image.
You can also go through the town to get to the castle, but where’s the fun in that.
I’d probably say the best thing about this Alcazar is everything on the outside. I mean Disney is cool and all but it don’t compare to the real thing. Plus there was a lot less screaming kids around.
We did pay to go inside. There was a small room with armory to look at but nothing major compared to the collection in Madrid. The castle is currently a museum and home of the Spanish General Military Archives. Entrance was around 6 or 8 euros.
The rooms of the castle were bare and empty so we were allowed to take some photographs. The ceilings were probably the best part covered in typical Spanish Empire ornate gold.
This was the royal meeting hall
You also got to take a peak into the cellar of the castle but it was all just bare and clean. Personally I think it would have been cooler if the armory display was downstairs.
To get a view from the tower you had to buy a separate ticket. Something the ticket-booth person never told us. We decided it wasn’t worth paying after the disappointment that was the castle. Plus the tower really didn’t go that much higher
After the castle we sat around in the cold to take in more of the magnificent view.
We walked around the Segovia Cathedral
And the old Jewish sector
Past many trinket shops and tourist cafes until we reached the other main attraction. The Roman Aqueducts. These were built by the Romans around the late 1st Century AD to supply water to the roman military fort on the hill. The Aqueduct’s highest point is 28 meters in Azoguejo Square.
The water was transported using the inverted siphon method which forces water from higher ground to lower terrain back up to higher terrain using the pressure of the water. To me that just means magic.
The Segovia aqueduct transports waters from Fuente Fría river, 11 mi from the city in a region known as La Acebeda. It runs another 9.3 mi before arriving in the city. The water is first gathered in a tank known as El Caserón (or Big House), and is then led through a channel to a second tower known as the Casa de Aguas (or Waterhouse). There it is naturally decanted and sand settles out before the water continues its route. Next the water travels 796 yd on a one-percent grade until it is high upon the Postigo, a rocky outcropping on which the old city center, the Segovia Alcázar, was built. Then, at Plaza de Díaz Sanz the structure makes an abrupt turn and heads toward Plaza Azoguejo..
From the top of the aqueduct you get a splendid view of the square both past and present
Now the story of how to get back to Madrid.. as mentioned before we still had our AVE tickets where the train departed from the new station. While we knew the station was about 5K away, we didn’t know that it was 5K away from the outskirts of Segovia on a highway!
Luckily for us there were very few cars as it was a holiday. The few cars that drove past us looked like we were crazy! Who wouldn’t, as two lost Americans walk with nothing but a cow in sight in search of a train station. We did pass a gas station who asked us if we had bikes at least and looked in disbelieve when we told her we were walking to the train. In total I think the 5K was more of a 5 mile walk. If an empty cab would have passed us we would have grabbed in, however, our only option was to just keep walking at that point. In retrospect two hours on a train doesn’t seem so bad with our two-hour walk on a highway with tumbleweeds and cows!
Tips for visiting Segovia
- Pick your bus or train carefully – My first tip is to figure out how you’re getting there and back. The bus is probably the best bet as it drops you off right at the town center and leaves once or twice an hour from Madrid. If you take AVE, there is a bus that goes from the highway to town center so look that up, walking is definitely uncomfortable. You will be on a highway with several rotaries. You do not want to be walking rotaries. You can also take the commuter rail which drops you off at the old station in Segovia, but it’s about a 2 hour commute. The trains also unlike the bus arrive and leave less frequently.
- The best sites are outside – The Alcazar is more enjoyable from the outside than the outside. Walking around was splendid and probably the best thing to do in Segovia.
- Don’t miss out on the Roman aqueducts! There’s also metal posts on the ground of the aqueducts that are underground. Look out for those!
- Buy the two part ticket for the Alcazar – Admission to the Alcazar doesn’t buy admission to the tower, so be careful which ticket you buy.