Segovia, one of the most beautiful cities in Spain
On the banks of the Eresma River, on a rocky promontory facing the Sierra Guadarrama, 90 km from Madrid, Segovia, with its old town and its Roman aqueduct, both classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain.
With the almost 1 km long aqueduct and a city centre with the largest number of Roman monuments in Europe, Segovia is a major cultural destination. The city is also rich in Romanesque churches, a cathedral and an alcázar.
In the Middle Ages, the court of the king of the Maison des Trastamare moved to Segovia, which was to radiate thanks to the activities of cattle breeding and the wool and cloth industry. An important synagogue is built in the city, which will bequeath an architectural heritage with the many Romanesque buildings scattered throughout it.
Among these buildings are churches: San Martín, la Santísima Trinidad, San Andrés, dominated by the Cathedral of Santa María. The large number of monasteries around the city underline the intensity of Segovia’s spiritual life.
Segovia is an hour’s drive or half an hour by high-speed train from Madrid, 90 km southeast of the city.
Visit and monuments of Segovia
Plaza de la Reina Victoria Eugenia
At the confluence of the rivers Eresma and Clamores, overlooking the Gardens of Queen Victoria Eugenia, the 80-metre-high tower of the old Muslim fortress rises above the void. Several courtyards, some rooms and lounges dominated by the twelve turrets of the Alcazar, also protected by a large ditch, are open to the public.
The first Christian references to this fortified town, whose location on a rocky peak testifies to its military vocation, date back to the beginning of the 12th century.
In the 13th century the intervention of the architects of John II and Henry IV gave it a Gothic appearance. In 1764, the Royal College of Artillery (Real Colegio de Artillería, Royal College of Artillery) was installed there by Charles II, where many secret passages connect the Alcázar with various palaces and the banks of the River Eresma.
Opening hours: every day from 10am to 8pm, until 6pm from November to March.
Admission: 5,50 €, reduced price: 3,50 € visit of the Tour San Juan: 2,50 €.
Plaza del Azoguejo.
Probably built between the middle of the 1st and the beginning of the 2nd century, during the reign of the Roman emperors Vespasian and Trajan, to transport the water from the Acebeda River to the city, this impressive structure is in very good state of conservation.
Registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it begins its transport near the palaces of Granja in the south-east of the city and then arrives at Piazza Díaz via a stone canal from where two monumental rows of superimposed arches depart.
20,400 stone blocks without any joints keep this construction in harmony, whose highest point is 28.10 m in the Azoguejo square.
It should be noted that the Royal House of Currency houses an Aqueduct Interpretation Centre with a multimedia centre with water as its main theme, which guides visitors through the 15 km long aqueduct.
In addition to the Plaza del Azoguejo, following the aqueduct means discovering the stairs of the Postigo del Consuelo, the Plaza Reina Doña Juana, the Plaza Mayor and the Alcázar.
Plaza del Socorro 2 and 3.
A tourist information point located at the Puerta de San Andrés provides information on the gates, passages and monuments on the route of the wall, which can be reached by footpath. It offers a unique view of the old town, the Judería, the old Jewish quarter and the necropolis on the opposite bank of the Clamores.
The gate of San Andrés, framed by two imposing towers, is one of the three gates along with those of Cabrián and Santiago that have been preserved on the original five.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 11am to 4pm. Admission: 1 €.
Torus of Hercules
Plaza la Trinidad.
The tower of Hercules, erected in the XIth century, owes its name to the statue on its front steps, which is the hero fighting a fawn. The basement of the building occupied by Dominican mothers today is decorated with red geometrical motifs.
Casa de los Picos
Calle Juan Bravo, 33.
This 15th century stately mansion is characterized by its facade entirely covered with granite blocks cut like diamond points. One can see on the balconies the coat of arms of the Hoz family, owners of the premises.
Like many segovianas houses, the entrance hall and interior patio are decorated with azulejos of Talavera. The building now houses the School of Fine Arts in Segovia and an exhibition hall.
Opening hours: every day from 12h to 14h and from 19h to 21h. From 6pm to 8pm on afternoons from October to March.
Royal House of Money
Calle de la Moneda.
Located on the banks of the Eresma river and at the foot of the Alcázar river, the Royal House of Money was founded in the 16th century by Philip II. It operated as such from 1586 to 1869. Its infrastructure, part of which can be seen in the outside courtyard, with a dam on the Eresma river, has been preserved intact, as have the hydraulic wheels that have moved the forge since the 16th century.
An old example of Spanish industrial architecture, the Royal House of Money now houses two museums: the Currency Museum and the Interpretation Centre of the Aqueduct.
Museums and heritage of Segovia
Construction began in 1525, during Charles V’s reign, on one of the city’s highest peaks where an ancient Romanesque cathedral was destroyed by fire.
Consecrated cathedral in 1768, its large altarpiece is made of marble, jasper and bronze.
Visits: every day from 9am to 9:30pm.
Admission: 3 €. Tour: 5 €. Full
Admission + Tour: 7 €.
San Antonio el Real Convent
Calle San Antonio el Real.
The convent of San Antonio is located in an ancient royal palace that belonged to Henry IV of Spain, who came here on holiday. Designed in the 15th century, it has a facade with an Isabelline Gothic style.
Visits: Tuesday from 4pm to 6pm, Wednesday to Saturday from 10am to 1:30pm and 4pm to 6pm, Sunday from 10:45am to 1:30pm.
Torre San Esteban
Plaza de San Esteban.
Built in the 13th century in Romanesque style, with a height of 53 meters, the tower of the church of San Esteban is the highest of the Spanish Romanesque towers.
Its portico has 10 arches and capitals decorated with engravings and medieval motifs. The interior is of a baroque style due to its restoration in the XVIIIth century following a fire.
Visits: free admission.
Church of the Vera Cruz
Calle de Zamarramala.
This Romanesque church was built by the Knights of the Temple in the 12th century. Inspired by the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem at the origin of the Temple Order, the church is an octagonal church with three chapels and two portals.
Visits: Open Tuesday from 4pm to 7pm (18pm from October to March), Wednesday to Sunday from 10:30am to 1:30pm and 4pm to 7pm (18th from October to March).
Admission: 2 €.
San Martín Church
Plaza Medina del Campo.
The church of San Martín, of Mozarabic origin, is surrounded on three sides by one of the most beautiful Romanesque atria in Segovia; an atrium with semicircular arches resting on columns with Romanesque capitals. It is also equipped with a beautifully decorated archival portal and a three-body tower in the centre of its nave.
Visits: free admission.
San Millán Church
Avenida Fernández Ladreda, 26.
Built in a Romanesque style in the 12th century, the church of San Millán is located in the old Moorish quarter of the town, which was once the site of the Mozarabic craftsmen. Designed on the same level as Jaca Cathedral, it has three naves and three apses. Noteworthy: its Mudejar coffered ceiling, a 14th century Gothic crucifix and beautiful wooden sculptures.
Visits: free admission.
Calle del Sol. Calle Socorro.
Founded in 1842, the museum is organized around three themes: archaeology, ethnology and fine arts. Among the 1500 exhibits on display are Roman mosaics, two Celtiberian verracos, carved stones, Visigoths enamels, coins, a collection of painted Castilian and Flemish wooden panels from the 15th and 16th centuries as well as glass and crystal objects from the Real Fábrica de la Granja de San Ildefonso.
The museum has a branch of the Plaza de Colmenares: the Zuloaga Museum, housed in a richly decorated Romanesque church.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 2pm and from 5pm to 8pm, from 4pm to 7pm on the afternoons from October to June. Sundays from 10am to 2pm.
Admission: 1 €.
Plaza de Colmenares.
Created in 1974, the museum is located in the church of San Juan de los Caballeros dating from the end of the 11th century. Daniel Zuloaga, painter and ceramist, set up his studio in this church in 1905.
The museum’s vocation is to house works produced by members of the Zuloaga family. There are paintings by Ignacio Zuloaga, the nephew, oils, ceramics and watercolours by Daniel Zuloaga and his children.
Visits: Wednesdays from 9am to 4pm.
Admission: 1 €.
Museum of Contemporary Art Esteban Vicente
Plazuela de las Bellas Artes.
This museum dedicated to Esteban Vicente (1903-2001), the only Spanish painter belonging to the first generation of the New York School of Abstract Expressionism, is located in the Palace of Enrique IV dating from 1455.
The exhibition features a core group of 150 works donated by the painter and his wife to the museum. The exhibition includes lithographs, oils, watercolours, collages and sculptures.
Visits: Tuesday to Friday from 11am to 2pm and 4pm to 7pm, Saturday from 11am to 8pm and Sunday from 11am to 3pm.
Admission: 3 €, reduced price: 1,50 €. Free on Thursdays and for children.
House-Museum Antonio Machado
Cuesta de los Desamperados, 5.
The great poet Antonio Machado (1875-1639) lived in this house for thirteen years, a pension in which he lived while teaching in Segovia. Among the poet’s memories and furniture, an exhibition retraces his professional career and the garden shows a reproduction of a Machado bust made by Emiliano Barral in 1920 and a ceramic panel by Julián López Parras.
Visits: Monday to Saturday from 11am to 3pm and then from 4pm to 6pm (15h30-5pm in the afternoons of November to March) on Sundays from 10am to 2pm.
Admission: 2,50 €, reduced price: 2 €.
35 km north of Segovia.
A town of a thousand inhabitants, Turégano displays the medieval splendour inherited from its past.
The castle was first protected by imposing ramparts, the construction of which began in the 13th century at the initiative of Bishop Juan Arias Dávila. Rectangular in plan, it is endowed with crenellated towers and a baroque bell tower. Inside is the church of San Miguel.
At the foot of the castle, the Plaza Mayor with its arcades and traditional houses is the nerve centre of the town, where markets, fairs and processions take place.
The episcopal palace, the house-palace of Miñano, the church of Santiago and the hermitage Nuestra Señora de los Remedios complete this heritage on the’ Romanesque Route of Píron’.
70 km north of Segovia.
The complex formed by the castle of the Dukes of Albuquerque, the ramparts and the church of San Martín was classified as a National Artistic Monument in 1931.
Perched on the heights of the city, the castle dates from the 15th and 16th centuries. It has a rectangular plan and four towers, three of which are round, with a Renaissance-style facade. Theatrical visits are organized throughout the year.
Other important buildings include the San Martín church, which houses an interpretation centre on Mudejar art, and the Arc de San Basilio, decorated with Mudejar and Gothic elements on part of its coronation.
San Ildefonso o la Granja
10 km southeast of Segovia.
At the foot of the Sierra de Guadarrama, the town is best known for hosting the Royal Palace of the Granja de Ildefonso.
Its construction dates from the reign of Philip V in 1721 at the site of an inn belonging to the Hieronymite monks, Order of St. Francis, of the monastery of El Parral in Segovia.
Surrounded by magnificent French gardens, the sovereign wanted to turn it into a resort residence recreating the atmosphere of Versailles. For twenty years he never ceased to enlarge the gardens and this palace, which would later serve as a summer residence for his successors.
Mixing Spanish baroque and French style, the palace reveals rooms that have kept their period decorations. Flemish paintings from the 18th century as well as tapestries exhibited in the palace museum are on display.
The French gardens are endowed with a rich and varied vegetation; decorated with statues and 26 fountains, some of them with water jets.
Apart from this royal complex, the Real Fábrica de Cristales de la Granja, an 18th century building, houses permanent and temporary exhibitions devoted to the art of working glass and crystal.
60 km northeast of Segovia.
The streets and monuments of this village of barely 1200 inhabitants, classified as a Historic and Artistic Site in 1951, bear witness to its Romanesque heritage and ancient splendour between the 11th and 13th centuries.
El Salvador de Sepúlveda church, built in 1093, is the oldest Romanesque church in the province.
At one end of Sepúlveda, the Sanctuary of Santa María de la Peña overlooks one of the most beautiful gorges of the Rio Duratón, whose natural park is located a few kilometres from the city. The park also houses the San Frutos hermitage and the ruins of the monastery of Nuestra Señora de la Hoz.
Added to this complex are the fortress of Fernán González, the ramparts, several churches and the Los Fueros museum.
35 km east of Segovia.
The Plaza Mayor of Pedraza is considered to be the most beautiful in Castile and Leon.
Dominated by its old castle, the village offers a medieval ensemble of cobblestone streets and stately houses. The museum of the city is located in the castle dungeon, once the studio of the painter Zuloaga.
75 km northeast of Segovia.
Located at the foot of the Macizo del Pico Lobo-Cebollera, Riaza shows houses with typical Castilian mountain architecture.
The Plaza Mayor, lined with stone bleachers linked by wrought iron balustrades, large balconies and buildings of irregular height, attracts attention. Just a few meters away, the imposing Renaissance church Nuestra Señora del Manto has a steeple that rises to 33 meters.
95 km northeast of Segovia.
Ayllón, a member of the Association of the Most Beautiful Villages of Spain, presents an old town declared of cultural interest.
The cobbled streets of these old neighborhoods, which can be accessed by passing under the arc and bearing the coat of arms of the 16th century, are lined with stately homes and houses with traditional architecture.
After the medieval arch, we find the Palazzo de les Contreras with its blasphemed Elizabethan facade and interior decorated with magnificent panelling.
A little further on, the Plaza Mayor, irregularly planed and bordered by an arcade, on which are discovered the Town Hall and the Romanesque church of San Miguel with its bell wall and rosettes.
If theatrical visits of the city are organized on weekends, the last weekend of July is held the fair of Ayllón with period costumes and medieval market.
50 km northwest of Segovia.
The imposing Castillo Mudéjar de Coca is undoubtedly the star of this small town of barely 2000 inhabitants located in the north-western part of the province of Segovia. Coca is also the cradle of Theodosius 1st the Great, famous Roman emperor.
A major example of military brick architecture, the castle of Coca was built by Archbishop Alonso de Foncesca in the 15th century under the reign of Henry IV of Castile.
It consists of two enclosures flanked by polygonal towers, one of which is an impressive keep. The interior walls, decorated with brick motifs, rise around a Renaissance interior patio. Surrounded by deep moats, it is one of the best restored castles in Spain.
The church of Santa María la Mayor de Coca houses the alabaster sepulchre of the Foncesca.