Thursday 22 September. Three cities, three tours, three cultures, three times the fun!

Hearing the name Segovia, I once mentally associated it with guitars. Now? I have a much richer collection of images, colours, and flavours stored away to remember.

Like Toledo, Segovia has an intermingled cultural heritage: Moorish, Jewish, and Spanish influences. Before them, though, the Roman Empire held sway through Spain, and in Segovia there is dramatic evidence of their history also.

At its fullest height the aqueduct is 28.5 metres high.
75 single arches and 44 double arches grace this section entering the city.

The Segovia aqueduct was constructed some time in the first or second century AD, possibly in the reign of Hadrian or Trajan. It dominates the approach to the city for miles, casting shade over the plaza below. Incredibly, it is constructed in a drystone style without mortar, each block shaped to the others, welded together by millenia. Our guide joked that we better not try taking any stones home for souvenirs!  He also told how during a nearby earthquake (within a few hundred km), the aqueduct was undamaged, simply twitching itself like a sleepy snake, and resettling into its ancient solidity. Amazingly, it carried water into the city until the early 20th century – I guess each conquering civilization in turn recognised a good thing when they saw it…if it ain’t  broke, and all that.

After we picked our jaws up off the plaza, we realised it was time to wrap them round some food. Khan advised we had about an hour to graze, and recommended a couple places (both priced for the tourists naturally). We braved a couple side streets in search of budget options, and ended up with a couple unremarkable but filling raçions and cold bevvies to wash it all down. (Note for the other non drinkers – Spain has a plethora of beer brands that all offer ‘cerveza sin alcohol’ and most are very pleasant. I may even become a conesseiur!)

Post comida, we had just enough time to grab takeaway cafe con leche and horchata and hightail back to the meeting point. Amazed to find we were first back! Apparently the recommended tabernas were mighty slooooow today. However, as this stop was the most time flexible, there were other meeting places where our eager companions could rejoin us. So we began Segovia part 2 in private tour mode, gradually acquiring more friends along the serpentine path across the old town.

Juan Bravo, a resistance leader in 16th century, honoured 500 years later with this momument.
Segovia Cathedral. Sadly we didn’t have time to visit this stunning building fully.

Our next historical site was the final stop for the whole group, as not all were heading on to Ávila. Those lucky few who were (including us) had a little longer to explore the beautiful and dramatic fortress of Segovia: the Alcazar.

Central fortress reveals its Moorish origins. Pointy towers were added later to please a European princess, apparently.

Apparently the Spanish claim this as the original ‘Disney’ castle model. And in truth it bears a strong resemblance to Neuschwanstein in Bavaria… which was built more recently than the pointy towers, so maybe it’s true.

We disscovered on our later journeys that pretty much every Andalusian city has an Alcazar. They are all impressive and contain a huge variety of ornamentation from one, two or more of their historical influences. This one is very much mediaeval-Renaissance Spain, highly decorated and elaborate.

After our tour of the palace, our smaller group of hardy souls venturing on to the third city met our second Amigo, Alberto, who was leading us on by a different route to our bus. I was delighted to learn that this meant we were walking through the Jewish quarter. Again, there were memory markers, signs and plaques to honour the original residents of the sector.

Finally we reached our Chaosmobile and onward we went. By this stage it was late afternoon, though nowhere near sunset (these long days are a real boon for jam packing tours.) Another nap, a quick recharge for City 3: Ávila.

For more information about this tour visit Viator – I highly recommend their informative site and flexible options.

For more pics and informal updates check out my Instagram @maedharanael or Facebook!

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