Spain has so many cool towns. Some are strikingly beautiful but reside in the middle of flat, unremarkable landscapes. Sevilla and Cordoba come to mind that fit this mold. Other towns like Granada and Ronda benefit by their naturally beautiful surroundings that add romance to their otherwise nondescript downtowns.
Segovia has a bit of both going for it. Vistas of snow-capped peaks in the distance and a hilly topography accentuate the prime features that make up its dramatic skyline. One that includes an 8th century city wall, a Gothic cathedral, and a whimsical fortress that was said to inspire Cinderella’s castle. Oh, and on the other side of town is a nearly 2000 year-old Roman water carrying device.
This was our third and last city we visited during Semana Santa (Toledo and Salamanca being the other two). What a great trio of towns to visit in a week’s span. It really gives you a good feel for those regal towns within a couple of hours of Madrid.
When I told a friend we would be visiting Segovia, the first suggestion out of his mouth was to “reserve lunch at Restaurante José María‘s, and soon”. Not one to question this particular friend’s judgement when it comes to good food and wine, I made our reservation several months in advance. I’m glad I did.
It may have been our most expensive meal in Europe, but oh so worth it. 28 day-old suckling piglet called cochinillo. Crackling crisp skin enveloping the most tender meat you can imagine.
Being known for this delicacy in this region carries with it a certain ceremony. The chefs, dressed in white with medals hanging around their necks, wheel this little guy to your table as part of a formal presentation. I think they do their best to pay respect to the unfortunate piglet who was alive for under one month. The surrounding wait staff then carve the meal in an unforgettable way.
They cut the pig into six parts using nothing but the blunt edge of a dinner plate (skip to 1:30 in the video to see it in action). Seriously, a plate! Go ahead and try that on your next Christmas ham.
Another highlight was visiting the Alcázar, Segovia’s castle that was first constructed in its strategic location as a Roman fortress. Since then, it has been used for a variety of purposes ranging from a palace to a prison. Architecturally it’s also a mish-mash having been built up over the centuries. To my eye, it seems like the castle’s profile should be overlooking the Rhine River in Germany and not necessarily sitting in the middle of Spain.
I liked visiting it with our kids because it was relatively cheap, wasn’t so big that it lost our attention, wasn’t completely overrun with tourists, and had one of the cooler armory rooms around. There are also a couple of easily accessible nature walks with gorgeous views from this side of town.
If you spend any time in the heart of the city looking for shops or restaurants, you’ll inevitably stumble upon one of the city’s oldest relics.
Originally built around 100 A.D., it has had a few reconstructions but the general blueprint remains. Apparently there is no mortar holding any of the granite blocks in place and never has been.
The aqueduct is a sight to behold. By night, it’s keenly lit and makes you feel like you’re standing indoors in a large convention hall. By day, it dwarfs everything else around.
Overall, I give Segovia a big thumbs up as a destination. It definitely warrants more than a day trip and with a few days, you can really take in all the best stuff. I’d like to go back and do some more hikes on the outskirts of town.
How about you? Have you been to Segovia? What was your impression?