- Eat cochinillo at Candido
- Admire the aqueduct and patterned buildings
- Visit the Alcazar
- Buy some art
Outside of Madrid, you could practically call Segovia my second home in that I’ve now given countless tours there. The city is home to the famous 2000+ year old Roman aqueduct in addition to the famous Alcazar that supposedly served as inspiration for the Disney Castle.
When you arrive in Segovia you can’t help but be awed by the stunning aqueduct that towers over and in front of the façade of the Plaza Azoguejo. The aqueduct is so perfectly picturesque, not only because it is stunning in its surroundings, but because of it’s intricate architecture that has held its place for over 2000 years (and was still used until 1950). You can be nothing other than amazed. Every time I go there, I can’t help but wonder how Spain’s strong winds don’t cause such a structure to tumble down.
A brief history
The Romans arrived in Segovia in 80 BC when the famous plumbers built the intricate aqueduct. Visogoths ruled the city, follow by the Moors, and ultimately the Christians in 1088. The foundations of the original fortress were built by the Moors, but in the 12th and 13th centuries, they were built over by the Christians. It was at the castle (Alcazar) that the Catholic monarchs that united Spain met – Isabel and Fernando. It was also there that Columbus pleaded to Isabel for funding to make his journeys to the new world.
What to see
Once you’ve entered the main Plaza Azoguejo, you’ll see the famous Candido restaurant on your left and then a bustling street straight and to your right. On your direct right is where you’ll find all necessary tourist information. That bustling street is your main path through the city. Along the way you will encounter the Plaza Mayor. Right before you enter, you will find a yummy little pasteleria called Limon y Menta where you can sample some of Spain’s famously delicious pastries, but in the best way possible – from a small city like Segovia.
After my many trips to Segovia, one thing I’ve noticed to be unique about Segovia is the walls of the buildings – the facades. If you look closely and pay attention, you will notice that many of the buildings have patterned sides to them, some matching, but mostly different. Every time I go, I find myself mesmerized by the ever changing patterns, wondering what they represent, or how they were chosen. You will even notice a patter on the side of the Alcazar. So much to ponder in this little town!
In the main Plaza Mayor, you’ll find the old gothic cathedral. Is it worth going in? Sure. I wouldn’t say that it is the most stunning cathedral on the inside – the interior is rather simple, with minimal of stained glass windows, and mostly just several small chaples. If you pass to the right of the cathedral, following the majority of the foot traffic, you will head down the street that takes you to the Alcazar.
If you like art, stop at the little shop on your right (once you’ve passed the park on your left, but before you reach the Alcazar) called FortunaEstefa. A young husband/wife team runs the shop and both create artwork of the landscapes around Segovia – she specializes in watercolor and he is a little more adventurous using wood canvases and different types of paint. They are incredibly sweet (tell them the blond American girl with the tall Spanish boyfriend sent you!).
Down the road just a tad farther and you will find the famous Alcazar. At first, once you’ve passed the gates, it will be hidden by the trees, you won’t even know that it exists. Head over to the right though, down the steps, and it is there that you will be able to take the very best pictures and have the best view.
Approaching it you will discover its frighteningly deep moat and draw bridge – it’s impossible for your imagination not to run wild with what may have taken place there over the centuries.
To purchase tickets, you will need to head to the building off to the left of the Alcazar – you can buy tickets for just the Alcazar, or the tower. For me, the tower is what is most worth it. Beware though, the steps are steep, uneven and you have little to hold on to, so be prepared for a little hike….but be even more prepared for a beautiful view!
When you first arrive in Segovia and pass through the aqueduct, you will be entering the Plaza Azoguejo, home to Segovia’s most famous restaurant, Candido, which more importantly is home to the famous Segovian dish – el cochinillo….the suckling pig. Segovia is known for its cochinillo which is cooked so perfectly that it is tender enough to be cut by a plate. To display the quality of the cochinillo, it will often be cut with the plate in front of those in the restaurant who ordered it. Such is the case with Candido. Candido dates back several generations, handed down from father to son. So if you go there, and are lucky, you will see Candido himself put on his medal (apparently signifying the master cochiniillo maker that he is) and cut the little pig in front of his special guests. I’ve met him a few times and he’s such a sweet man, so proud of his craft. And if you tell him you are from San Francisco, or probably anywhere from the States, he will surely recount what little he remembers to you.
Now, whether you are brave enough or not to try the cochinillo is of little importance to me – I personally am pretty averse to it. But please, do yourself a favor and order the Tarta Ponche Segoviano. You can find this dessert at most places in Segovia (even Limon y Menta), so whether at Candido, or elsewhere, you would be a fool to miss out!
Other cities in or near Castilla y León
Ávila (Castilla y León)
Experiences from my blog