Much more than the aqueduct
Date of World Heritage Declaration: 1985.
Site: Segovia’s Historic City Centre and the Aqueduct.
Location: Segovia Province.
In December of the year 1985, UNESCO made the decision that Segovia and its aqueduct had to be declared “World Heritage”. This decision didn’t surprise anyone, seeing as the city shines for its beauty, surroundings, streets and buildings.
Segovia’s’ economy is mostly based on the city’s’ cultural and gastronomic appeal, as well as its interesting museums and exposition galleries and the streets and squares that become the ideal scenario for multiple artistic activities during the year such as Easter (Semana Santa) or the Muppet shows of Titirimundi. Folksegoia has now become one of the most prestigious music shows around the globe that takes place in Spain.
Palace courtyards, convent cloisters and multiple important building facades also work as perfect settings for the International Festival Days, during which we can enjoy the Concert hall Music Week, The Young Festival and the Open Theatre, Music and Dance Festival. Both of the city’ University Campuses also carry out their own Cultural Activities, making Segovia into a mandatory visit.
The territory where the City of Segovia now stands, was back in the day a Celtic Fort. During the Roman Era, it belonged to the Clunia Judicial Convent, and during the Visigoth times in Spain, it became the Bishopric See of the Catholic Church.
The shockingly fast conquest of the Gothic Hispania by the Muslims back in the 8th century has a high influence in the Segovian territory configuration. The civil wars between the Arabs and the Berbers that took place halfway into the 8th century pushes them to abandon the center and north of the Peninsula.
The repopulation of the Sepulveda and Sacramenia regions begins in the 7th century, though the Segovian territory will remain poorly populated, with hermit like settlings, multiple groups of Christian cattle breeders and without any kind of social or political regime. After the Conquest of Toledo in the hands of Alfonso 6th, caused by the Muslim Crisis, the repopulation of the City of Segovia and other territories in the surrounding areas of the Dueros’ Basin begins to take place actively, with settlers from Asturias, León, Aragón and even France, which rapidly become a part of the local population.
With the kingdom of Alfonso 8th came the financial momentum and the intense repopulation periods, motivated by the demographic growth of the city. This allows the settlements to rapidly become hamlets. However, this period of apogee doesn’t last long; during the 13th century the population begins to drop again due to the emigration towards the newly conquered Andalucía.
However, Segovia can brag about having been the Trastámara Kings’ House Court. On December 13th, 1474, Isabel la Católica was proclaimed queen by its people.
During the 16th and 17th century, the aristocracy and the pridefull cloth-manufacturers raced one another for the construction of Urban Castles, but the defeat of the Castilian Cities in the War of the Regions brought back Segovias’ declive despite the efforts of the Bornons’ Royal Family, who, as an attempt to improve the situation, erected Royal Places such as La Granja, or the Academia de Artilleria (Artillery Academy).
The 19th century was characterized by the impoverishment and the French and Carlist invasions. Finally, towards the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century the city underwent an increase in the population thanks to a relative financial improvement.
Segovias’ AqueductSegovias’ Aqueduct is considered to be one of the most astonishing Roman works ever erected, represented in the city’s shield. Its main purpose was to carry the water from the Mountain Range to Segovia. It was built back in the 2nd Century A.C, during the Trajano Emeperor Era.
The watersThe water that the aqueduct would carry came from the Fuenfría Spring, 17Km away from the city. Firstly, the water would be accumulated onto a tank under the name of “El Caserón”, to then be led through an ashlar gutter that would end in a second tank called “ Casa de lasAguas”, where it would be poured and filtered so it could go onto the aqueduct clean.
The highest The highest end of the aqueduct is 28 meters high and is composed by 2 decks of arches sustained by pillars. The total number of arches the aqueduct has comes up to 166.
ConstructionIt is made of granite ashlars stacked on top of one another without any kind of glue-like cement. Back in the Roman Times, we could find a series of bronze letters representing the name of the builder and the date in which it was built over the 3 highest standing arches. Over on each side of the aqueduct, we can also see two niches. What we do know for certain now, is that one of them withheld Hercacles Image, who, as the story goes, was the founder of the city. During the Catholic Kings times, the two niches withheld a different image: The Holy Virgin of Fuencisla, Segovia and San Sebastian’s Patron Saint. Nowadays, every December 4th, the Artillery Academy Cadets wrap the image of the virgin in a Spanish flag.
Characteristic milestone Without a doubt, the aqueduct is the city’s most relevant and characteristic milestone. It has remained in almost perfect conditions throughout the centuries up to date. Up until very recently, it would provide water to the city’s’ fortress, though it is important to mention that the aqueduct has worn out considerably due to the weather and the granites’ erosion process.
RestaurationIn order to guarantee its endurance, Francisco Jurado and his team carried out a meticulous restauration process that has taken over 8 years to be finished, with side effects such as the necessity to change the traffic around the aqueduct. In the year 1992, cars were no longer allowed to pass under the structure, though are still able to drive next to it, hardly a few meters away, which causes the aqueduct to suffer from their pollution.
Residence of Alfonso VIII
Due to the remains found in the area, it is believed that back during Roman-dominance times, some other structure stood were the Fortress does now. Furthermore, the Fortress has apparently been built from the ruins of the former structure.
The former structure is believed to be some sort of Hispanic-Arabic stronghold built in the year 1122. It was Alfonso 8th main residence, and was reconstructed and enlarged multiple times between Alfonso 10th and Felipe 2nd. It was Felipe II’s idea to reconstruct it in the way it is now, its shape is unique among all Spanish castles.
During the Middle Ages, it became one of the Castile Kings favorite residences, for reasons such as its safety and its proximity to hunting grounds. Inhabited multiple times, it became one of the most luxurious castle-like residences of the 15th century. The fortress was later turned into a State Penitentiary until the year 1762, when Carlos III placed the headquarters of Segovia’s’ Royal School or Artillery there.
After being declared Historic-Artistic Monument in the year 1931, the Patronato Del Alcázar (Acázar’s Board of Trustees) was funded in the year 1953 in order to protect it and its contents.
The Castles inner arrangement is divided in two main areas: the outside of the Castle; which includes a courtyard, a moat, a drawbridge and the Tribute Tower. Regarding the inside of the castle, we can find a chapel and multiple royal halls which are open to visitors these days.
Inside the Castle, we can also appreciate how each hall has been decorated tastefully by multiple Painters and Artists from Mudéjar. Today, it serves as Museum of Weapons and the General Military Archives of Segovia, the oldest one that belongs to the Spanish Armed Forces.
The Lady of Cathedrals
Commonly know as the “Lady of the Cathedrals” due to its size and elegance, the Holy Church Cathedral of Our Lady of Asunción and San Frutos of Segovia (Santa Iglesia Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción y de San Frutos de Segovia) was built between the 16th and 18th centuries.
This Cathedral represents both Gothic and Renaissance like styles, and was one of the most belated constructions of this nature in Spain and in Europe, seeing as it was erected in the 16th century, time during which the Renaissance Style Architecture was rapidly taking over Europe.
Segovia’s Santa María Cathedral was destroyed in the year 1520, during the Spanish War of the Communities (Guerra de las Comundiades), so in the year 1525 the process began to erect a new one under the commands of Juan Gil de Hontañón.
Financed by the city’s citizens and the working unions, its structure is divided in three high naves and an ambulatory, showcasing thinly traced windows. Its interior is entirely gothic, except for the dome built in the year 1630, achieving an overall intimidating and clean look.
Among the different chapels, we highlight the Santísimo Sacramento one, with an altarpiece made by José de Churriguera, the San Andrés one, with its Flemish triptych representing the descent of Abrosius Benson and the Descent of the Lying Christ by Gregorio Fernández. The main altarpiece, by Francisco Sabatini, is dedicated to the Holy virgin of Peace. It’s sourrounded by sculptures of different Segovian Saints such as San Frutos, San Geroteo, San Valentín and Santa Engracia.
The Artillery Academy
Royal School Of Artillery
Spanish Military Institution founded on May 16thm 1764 as the Royal School Of Artillery in Segovia’s Alcázar back in the days of Carlos III, and the initiative of its primer director, Feliz Gozzola. It is the oldest military academy across de globe still in use.
The Commemorative Ceremony of the Academy’s 250 anniversary, celebrated on May 16th 2014, was chaired by Spain’s former King, Juan Carlos I, and it was the last military act before he announced his abdication.
The Academy’s main purpose is towards education, perfectionism studies, Simulator Training for Official stops, NCO’s and General Troops of the Spanish Ground Army.
The current headquarters of the Artillery Academy is the former San Francisco Convent, in Segovia.