Blogging here, blogging there, does it really matter? Just posted a piece about a ramble through the lovely UNESCO town of Segovia in Spain over on the Matador Travel Network. A beautiful city that is worth more than a day trip from Madrid. Have a look if you're so inclined, just a click away.
*It seems that the page has been taken down, so I will re-post it below.
A Day Trip that could last a Week
A walk through Segovia, Spain
by Troy Nahumko
“The biggest mistake people make when coming here is that they only stay a few hours. Look around you, worth more than a few hours don't you think?”
As we sat sheltering from the intense Spanish summer sun in the relative cool of the church's 13th century cloister, intrigued by the frightening world view of 13th century man that was expressed in the gory nightmarish scenes carved into the Romanesque capitals, I could only agree with my guide.
Segovia is often relegated to a quick ticklist visit on many tourist itineraries through Spain. At just under 100kms away from bustling Madrid over the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range and with the recent completion of the high-speed train link that makes the trip in around 35 minutes; it is the perfect day trip. Complete with a fairytale castle that a man named Walt once fell in love with, the sights are definitely there, but look beyond the obvious and you will find that there is plenty more to entice you to miss that last train or bus back to the city.
The first sight most tourists see of the city is in the end probably the most impressive, the words awe inspiring even lose their sense of cliché when standing under it. Threading across a square, pillars made up of huge blocks of stone rise to form a beautiful aqueduct that has been standing since the 1st century. Roman legions, Arab princes, Visigoth kings and more recently Citroens and Renaults have all passed under its steadfast arches that still bring water into the old city core. Thankfully in its old age, cars no longer rumble under its arches.
“From here we need to have a quick drink and some tapas in order to keep up our strength.” I was told as we climbed up the street and then ducked down to the left into a little bar.
Las Cuevas del Duque in Casa Duque has been helping hungry and thirsty people since 1895 and the brief respite from the fierce summer sun was welcome. Segovia is one of the best places to sample authentic Spanish tapas, and the Cuevas is a great place to start. Order a beer or a robust wine from the nearby Rioja or Ribera del Duero regions and you are given the likes of the sinfully delicious chorizo a la olla. Best to order another wine in order to combat the cholesterol punch it packs.
Back out on the street on the Calle Juan Bravo we came to the Casa de los Picos, a curious 15th century mansion covered in pyramid-shaped reliefs carved out of granite, but this wasn't what my guide had in mind. Opposite the pyramids you are surprised with a panoramic view of the mountain range that separates Segovia from the capital.
“What do you see when you look at those mountains?”my happily fed and watered guide asked. But before I could tell him what I thought he began to tell me the story.
“Segovia is a city of legends and if you look carefully at the mountain it looks like a woman lying down, it's called la Mujer Muerta, or dead woman. Legend has it that in order to stop her two sons from killing each other in their stuggle for power, she offered up her life to the gods if her sons would be at peace. A terrible snow storm hit that night, in the middle of summer and in the morning the mountain was there where there once had been prairie.” The very thought of snow flying in this bone melting heat made the legend sound even more dubious.
Further up the winding street we came to another of Segovia's great attractions, the Cathedral. Begun in 1525, it is considered one of Europe's last great Gothic Cathedrals. A warren of streets spreads out from here until they are stopped by the 10th century limestone walls and natural cliffs that hem the city in on both sides. In the winding streets below the cathedral you'll find the old Jewish ghetto and more places to test your tapas.
The end of the road comes to a peak where the rivers Eresma and Clamores meet. Sitting on top of this privileged position is a castle that every child dreams of and indeed probably have seen in one way or another as Disney used it for inspiration. From below it looks like a ship setting sail and from above all of Castile stretches before you. This many times rebuilt fortress may mark the end of the street but there is still so much to see beyond, below and back where we came.
“Let me tell you another legend about a Moorish princess who...” but before my guide could finish, I stopped him.
“I'm missing my train back to Madrid, there's too much to see. Tell it and more to me tomorrow.”