This week’s Snapshot is of Segovia, Spain—one of the most enchanting places I’ve ever visited. Set high on a rocky hilltop, the walled Old Town of Segovia exudes all the charming character of medieval Europe. Because of its proximity to Madrid, tourists often think of it as a day trip destination, but to me it’s definitely worthy of a couple nights stay.
The highlight of Segovia is its spectacular Roman Aqueduct. Built nearly 2000 years ago in the second half of the 1st century AD, over 25,000 granite blocks were stacked without the use of any mortar. It’s truly awe-inspiring and remains one of the oldest standing structures on earth. Until the late 19th century, it transported water to the city from the RioFrio, over ten miles away. At its highest point the imposing aqueduct spans ninety-three feet over the picturesque Plaza Azoguejo below.
In the shadow of the aqueduct is the Meson de Candido restaurant. Since 1786, they’ve been serving the regional specialty, cochinillo (suckling pig) in their rustic, half-timbered dining hall. It might sound cruel to feast upon a 21-day old piglet, but my adventurous spirit compelled me try it. The cochinillo was just as deliciously tender and flavorful as you’d expect. (By the way, they don’t ordinarily serve the pig’s head on your table—I just had to take a photo of it.)
Another unforgettable sight is Segovia’s fortified Alcázar. With its gabled roofs and soaring turrets, this medieval castle looks like something straight out of a fairytale. The only thing missing is a dragon in the moat! The Alcázar was built during the early 12th century and later served as a royal residence for the Kingdom of Castile, including Christopher Columbus’ patron, Queen Isabella. You can tour the vast interior and even climb the spiral staircases inside the towers. From the rooftop you’re rewarded with a commanding view of the Old Town and surrounding countryside.
A third stunning sight in Segovia is the 16th century Gothic Cathedral. Its lacy pinnacles and graceful flying buttresses give it an almost delicate appearance. Adjacent to the cathedral is the Plaza Mayor, a popular gathering place for tourists and locals alike. One of the highlights of my trip to Spain was just sitting back in the plaza and savoring the sights over a café con leche.
With all of Segovia’s beauty and historical significance, it’s no wonder that it’s on the short list to be the European Capital of Culture in 2016. I’d say it’s certainly worthy of the title.