Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A trip to Segovia

Here is a link to the pictures:


The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain, not really. It has been raining all over Spain for the past week, with some TV reports of severe flooding in the North. I decided to just ignore what the weather was doing, and have an adventure, so I went off to Segovia. Segovia is a pretty good example of a town built by and around the ruins of the Romans. I took a high-speed train from Madrid, the ride only took about 35 minutes on the new line, and 20 of those minutes was spent inside a tunnel going 160 Kph. When I got there, I was surprised that the weather was perfect for my visit, and it being a Monday, the streets were relatively deserted.

The first thing you notice when you get off the bus from the train station, (the new AVE train station is 7k away, you have to take a bus, no walking on the autopista) is the aqueduct. It is the signature landmark in the town, and part of the reason it was designated a world heritage site in the mid 80’s. It is 728 meters long and consists of 163 arches, none of which has a single drop of mortar holding it together. Good thing this is not earthquake territory. This landmark is simply amazing, and the pictures just don’t do it justice. Dad said there are larger ones still around in Syria and Turkey, but none in as good shape as this.

Leaving to the north on the main drag into the old city I noticed that there was no asphalt in the streets. Indeed the whole day I was within the walls, I noticed that ALL of the streets were cobblestone! From Plaza Major I had great views of the cathedral, which I decided not to go into. Instead I hustled further up the hill to the castle at the top of the hill. I did notice that this church had the biggest, tallest door I have ever seen, that is used to pass people.

The castle is supposedly the inspiration for the castles in Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, and once I saw it I would agree that is true. This castle is totally storybook in appearance, with sheer cliffs on 3 sides, and a really deep moat and drawbridge (now just a bridge) in the front. I did opt to go into the castle, and was surprised that all the antiquities were not really guarded by anyone, the honor system was keeping people from touching paintings and sitting in thrones that were hundreds of years old, cool. I looked at all of the rooms, and took a few photos. The chapel was very quaint, a Spanish king and queen were married here. I climbed the tower next (additional charge, and 156 steps) and was rewarded with the best view of the city. I can see why this was chosen as the spot for a summer home for many of the kings, it would seem impossible to overtake this building without modern warfare equipment.

I left the castle and wandered the streets for the rest of the day, taking in the sights, and jumping out of the way of traffic that still uses the narrow roads. I returned to the aqueduct and walked the length of it to find the starting point, and returned to the plaza to catch the bus, then train back home. What a fun day, I was exhausted, I went straight to bed (kind of, iChat with Jennifer first) and slept like a rock, a roman aqueduct rock that is.

No comments: