Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Alcázar of Segovia

The Alcázar of Segovia (literally, Segovia Castle) is a stone fortification, located in the old city of Segovia. Rising out on a rocky crag above the confluence of the rivers Eresma and Clamores, it is one of the most distinctive castle-palaces in Spain by virtue of its shape – like the bow of a ship. The Alcázar was originally built as a fortress but has served as a royal palace, a state prison, a Royal Artillery College and a military academy since then. 
The castle is one of the inspirations for Walt Disney's Cinderella Castle.
 The Alcázar of Segovia, like many fortifications in Spain , started off as an Arab fort, which itself was built on a Roman fort but little of that structure remains. The first reference to this particular Alcázar was in 1120, around 32 years after the city of Segovia returned to Christian hands.
 The Alcázar, throughout the Middle Ages, remained one of the favorite residences of the monarchs of the Kingdom of Castile and a key fortress in the defense of the kingdom.
In 1474, the Alcázar played a major role in the rise of Queen Isabella I of Castile. On 12 December news of the King Henry IV's death in Madrid reached Segovia and Isabella immediately took refuge within the walls of this Alcázar where she received the support of Andres Cabrera and Segovia's council. She was crowned the next day as Queen of Castile and León. After her marriage to Ferdinand II of Aragon, Isabella and Ferdinand are known for completing the Reconquista, ordering conversion or exile of their Muslim and Jewish subjects and in supporting and financing Christopher Columbus' 1492 voyage that led to the opening of the "New World".
The royal court eventually moved to Madrid, but for many years Alcázar of Segovia played an important role in the development and growth of the united kingdom of Spain and was a favorite residence of the Kings of Spain. These first two photos are not mine but display the castle so well, I included them. Not apparent in this picture a moat separates the castle from the promontory point.
 File:Segovia - Alcazar ext 02.jpg
Below is the opposite side of the castle, on the outcropping of rocks just above the confluence of 
the two rivers of Segovia.
File:View of the Alcazar, Segovia.jpg
Above is my photo.  Notice the hint of Moorish influence in the relief on the facing walls.
Below is one of the two inner courtyards surrounding a water fountain.
The real beauty of The Alcázar lies is the interior of the various rooms.  Sumptuous.  It was really great living at the top of the food chain back in those days, but I still prefer indoor plumbing, central heating and air-conditioning, even without servants. Sorry. Here's the throne room.
Below, one of the halls for various functions and parties.  The scaffolding is for current restoration.
Unfortunately the shot below is a little blurry because of time exposure but an elegant portrayal of the coronation of Queen Isabella after the death of Henry IV of Madrid, setting the stage for unification of the various autonomous regions of Spain.
The "Flemish" wall hangings were in amazingly good condition considering their age.  
But I tried the bed: not nearly as good as our "memory" foam queen bed.  
And harder to make with the posts and canopy and stuff.
The room below was amazing.  Probably it was for dining functions and the like.  Surrounding the top of the walls, in relief, are statuary of all the kings of Spain.  It was really gorgeous! 
I wanted to sing in there also!
This was a hallway connecting the castle to the private chapel for worship by the royal family.  
I would have liked to sing in this space; great acoustics.
A peek into the private royal chapel and altar.
A view from the towers into one of the 2 courtyards.
Looking out over the old city from between the front towers.  If you zoom in to the tops of the trees in the foreground you will see large white cranes nesting in the tops of 4 of the trees.  Pretty cool.
250 circular steps to the roof of the towers.  For Harry Potter fans, it looks very much like the stairwell to Dumbledore's chambers. Not for the faint of heart or weak of knees.  
Only the men made the trip, but it was worth it. 
If you go to Segovia, don't miss The Alcázar.  
And take time to wander slowly through the rooms and try and imagine life as Royalty in Spain at the time Columbus was lobbying for sponsors to help him discover the New World.  
Really amazing stuff.


  1. I could get used to being a royal...

  2. Ditto Michelle's comments, I think I could handle it.

  3. You are seeing some cool stuff. We loved this castle! The best we saw in Spain I think.

  4. Miss you! Still haven't had home teachers since you left. Glad you're having a great time.