Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Back Post of Segovia, "The City of Victory"

One month ago Vivienne and I made a pilgrimage of sorts to one of the true treasures of Spain; the city of Segovia, located about 60 kilometres north-northwest of Madrid.
It is in the autonomous region of Castile and Leon, Spain, and is the capitol of Segovia Province.  Believe it or not, Segovia was first recorded as a Celtic possession which eventually transferred into the hands of the Romans probably about 75 B.C.  Scholars believe the city was abandoned after the Islamic invasion of Spain, approximately from 700 A.D. to 1100 A.D.
The end of the Middle Ages saw something of a golden age for Segovia with a growing Jewish population and a powerful industry in cloth and textiles.  There are several splendid works of Gothic architecture from this period and the city's population grew to about 27,000 in the 16th Century, but after a period of economic decline it was reduced to only 8,000 a century later.  It is the site of Spain's first Military Academy.
In 1985 the old city of Segovia and its Aqueduct, originally 27 kilometers long and built by the Romans, entirely without mortar, and still standing, were declared World Heritage by UNESCO.  There is evidence of many different cultures in the city, Islamic, Roman, Celtic, Catholic/Christian, and Jewish
The three most outstanding architectural structures are the Aqueduct (the pictures do not do justice), The Alcazar of Segovia (palace and fortress used by Walt Disney to model the famous castle at Disneyland, California), and The Segovia Cathedral, the last Gothic cathedral built in Spain and considered the masterpiece of Basque-Castilian Gothic, known as "The Lady of Cathedrals".
The Aqueduct: The date of its construction would have been the end of the 1st Century or early 2nd Century.  The part of The Aqueduct located within the old city consists of about 25,000 granite blocks, some weighing several tons, put together without ANY mortar.  The highest arch is more than 29 meters high.

These are out of order but I wanted to show you what I think is the most impressive view as the first view.  We actually walked back to the first arch and then worked out way back to the end of the aqueduct which is the largest arches as it enters the old city fort walls.  We counted the arches and now I can't remember but it seems like there are about 65.  Of course the aqueduct is much longer, reaching back into the springs of water in the mountains and the source of the Rio Frio, or "cold river", where there was still snow on this day of visit.
As we walked past the arches Vivienne posed under one that is a great example of the concept of "keystone" which you can clearly see above her head.  It gives a wonderful visual of the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith that the Book of Mormon is the "keystone" of our religion.  If you pull that stone out the arch collapses.
 I'm standing at Arch #1
The view looking back towards the beginning of the arches, the path we walked, which takes an approximate 90 degree left turn near the top of the hill.
 Plaque of American Society of Civil Engineers honoring this as an historic engineering landmark.  It's really unbelievable to think they built this some 2,000 years ago using crude blocks, tackle and levers.  Most of these stones weigh more than a ton.  You can still see holes in the rock where they attached tongs with which to lift them into place.  And all of this was done without the use of any mortar.  The Romans were truly master builders.
Vivenne climbing the steps to the top of the aqueduct at the last arch as it enters the old walled fort.
 View from the top
 Poor Vivienne was suffering from anxiety being too close to the wall at that height.  I had to hold her firmly so she wouldn't bolt away before the picture was taken
 Looking closely you can see that the aqueduct turns to the left once it crosses the main city center and enters the hills.
 A zoom picture for better viewing.  The arches get slowly smaller until the level of the top of the aqueduct matches the terrain.  It then continues back into the mountains in the background.
A charming modern-day tradition with the locals.  When a girl and boy fall in love, they go to the top of the last arch into the old fort and attach a padlock to a large U-bolt protruding out the ancient stone.  It symbolizes their pledge of "locking" their hearts to each other.  The city workers have to come around about once a week and cut off the padlocks, but hey, it's a cute symbolic gesture, right?  By the way, the mortar you can see in this picture is on the old fort wall, not the arches of the aqueduct.
Then we went exploring the narrow streets of the city....

Where we found this charming little restaurant, 3 stories high.

Looking from the restaurant's main floor to the front entrance.  This was the store owner.
Then up a flight of stairs (can you say "narrow"?)
 To this quaint eating area, which we had all to ourselves.  The manager, and our personal waiter is in the background

 We enjoyed the local favorite, which is a baby pig, cooked whole and then served in 1/4 sections.  Of course you can order a single order of the entire baby pig, but I don't know who would be able to eat the entire thing.  It was scrumptious. They cook it for a very long period of time, can't remember how long, but the meat literally falls off the bones.  One usually does not eat the skin, and of course we didn't.  We did however have several servings of the delicious bread!
 I think his name was Marcus, and if I had posted this when the memory was fresh I would have remembered.  Sorry.  But if you're ever in Segovia, this is a great place for lunch!
I could have stayed there all afternoon. Paco and Susi are the most wonderful couple, and thank goodness their English is terrific, and their knowledge of the history of the area.
 And for dessert: Natilla!  Better than creme boulle at the Peachtree hotel in Atlanta, Georgia, and that's saying a lot.

The Alcazar of Segovia: The royal palace located on top of a rock between the rivers Eresma and Clamores was documented for the first time in 1122 A.D.  It was one of the favorite residences of the Kings of Castile.
The Segovia Cathedral:  As I said, it's the last Gothic cathedral built in Spain, and after being destroyed once by fire was rebuilt and consecrated in 1768.  The dimensions are about 330 feet long, 160 feet wide and over 100 feet high in the nave.  It has 18 chapels and three main doors: El Perdon, San Frutos and San Geroteo.
Well, I've run out of time, so I'll have to post the pictures of the Alcazar and the Cathedral later.  Stayed tuned.


  1. Beautiful photos! That aqueduct is incredible. I remember the city of Spoleto, Italy, where I spent a summer, had an old Roman aqueduct that bridged a deep gorge on its way into town...but I don't remember whether it used any mortar in its construction.

  2. So if they didn't use any mortar, did they use cement, or glue?

  3. We enjoyed Segovia very much, a few years ago, when we were in Spain. We enjoyed your pictures very much. I am glad you are having diversion along with the Missionary Work.

  4. Looks like you had an enjoyable excursion out! Dessert looks good!

  5. Great post with wonderful photos. Segovia is such an amazing city. We have visited there twice during our year here (we celebrate a year today) and hope to go again.