Things to see and do - Segovia
The kingdom of Castile :
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The kingdom of Castile
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Segovia has its water delivered by a famous aqueduct which was built at the time of the Emperor Trajan. The Romans built it to bring water from the river Acebeda in the Fuenfria Sierra to the highest part of the town. It is 728m long and 28m high and is evidence of the genius of the Roman engineers. It is still in service today.
It was Philip V, grandson of Louis XIV, who wanted to make La Granja into a «little Versailles» at an altitude of 1,192m. In the Palace, a Tapestry Museum exhibits 16C Flemish hangings and a 15C Gothic tapestry. The gardens of 145 ha were inspired by Versailles. The water features enliven the Neptune basin while the fountain of the Famous throws a jet of water up to 40m. There is a glass Museum in the Royal factory.
This monumental fortress is the oldest remaining example of Mudéjar military architecture in Spain. Built by Moorish craftsmen at the end of the 15C, it is made up of three walls with polygonal corner towers, round towers on the sides and a sturdy keep. The keep and chapel, which are open to visitors, contain some fine wooden sculptures from the Romanesque period. From the roof terrace, a highlight of the visit, enjoy extensive views of the fortified complex and the village of Coca.
The national museum of sculpture, housed in the Colegio de San Gregorio, contains a huge inventory of Spanish statuary as well as numerous paintings from various periods. It displays one of the most beautiful collections of polychrome wood statues in Spain, which for the most part date from the 16C and 17C. At the time, Valladolid was the centre of Castilian sculpture, with masters such as Alonso Berruguete, Juan de Juni and Gregorio Fernández.
Saint Paul's Church is especially remarkable for its façade from the beginning of the Renaissance. It illustrates the transition from the Isabelline style to the plateresque style. The lower part of the main church, designed by Simon of Cologne, belongs to the former and the upper part to the latter. The lower part, with its rose window, can be distinguished by its perforations and its ogee arches, the upper part, divided into panels decorated with statues, has a clearer composition.
On a hillside by the town, made of bricks and flanked by an enormous keep, the castle stands proud. Jeanne la Folle stayed here often and the sinister Cesar Borgia was imprisoned here for two years.
Built from 1151-1174, the building has been changed many times. Note the craftwork here: gates on the coro, two 15C Mudéjar pulpits and stalls decorated with Biblical characters. In the episcopal museum, there is a collection of 15C Flemish tapestries and the garden has views of the Douro.
The heart of Salamanca life, the Plaza Mayor is surrounded by myriad cafés, restaurants and shops, and provides the perfect setting for a drink or a stroll. Built by Philip V between 1729 and 1755 to thank the city for its loyalty during the War of the Spanish Succession, it is renowned for its perfect symmetry and architectural harmony. Admire its arcaded galleries, the pedimented fronts of the town hall, and the royal pavilion crowned by the bust of Philip V.
The builders of the New Cathedral luckily respected the Old Cathedral that stands by its side. It seems like a good example of a romanesque cathedral, and the lantern tower, with two levels of windows, is one of the most beautiful of its kind. The Chapel of San Martin is decorated with 13C frescos. The grand retable in the central apse is made up of 53 compartments with surprisingly fresh colours and fine detail.
Ávila's high walls (murallas) punctuated by 88 towers, nine gateways and various posterns, enclose a quadrilateral area of around 900m by 450m. An invaluable testimony to fortifications in the Middle Ages, they date from the 11C and have retained a unified appearance in spite of modifications in the 14C. The best place for an overall view of the walls is the viewpoint known as Cuatro Postes, or Four Posts, on the Salamanca road. You can also walk along the sentry path on the top of the walls.