Saturday, September 15, 2012


Segovia is one of the top two or three cities that we have visited thus far in Spain. We traveled there on Monday, August 20, 2012, by taking a metro from Pavones to the Chamartín train station, and taking a train from there to Segovia. We arrived around 10:00 am, and took Bus 8 to the amazing Aqueduct of Segovia:

The Roman Aqueduct of Segovia was built at the end of the 1st century or early 2nd century. It is the most important work of Roman engineering in Spain and the largest and best preserved Roman aqueduct in the world. The aqueduct was built with about 25,000 granite blocks fitted together without any mortar. It has a length of 2680 feet, consists of more than 170 arches, and reaches a height of 95 feet at the Plaza de Azoguejo. Here is another view of the Aqueduct:

After taking pictures of the Aqueduct, we stopped at a little restaurant that served thick hot chocolate and churros, a popular Spanish treat:

We are still wondering how the stones in the aqueduct remain together with not one bit of mortar:

The Aqueduct of Segovia and the Plaza de Azoguejo (on the other side of the aqueduct) in Segovia, Castilla y León, Spain: 

The Catedral de Segovia:

 A view of the old city wall and city of Segovia from the Plaza de la Reina Victoria Eugenia near the Alcázar.

The Alcázar de Segovia is shown below. Alcázar is an Arab word meaning castle. From Wiki: Rising out on a rocky crag above the confluence of the rivers Eresma and Clamores near the Guadarrama mountains, it is one of the most distinctive castle-palaces in Spain by virtue of its shape – like the bow of a ship. The Alcázar was originally built as a fortress but has served as a royal palace, a state prison, a Royal Artillery College and a military academy since then.

Ramparts of the Moorish castle, Alcázar of Segovia: 

Another view of the old city wall and cathedral tower of Segovia.

The ancient San Miguel Church of Segovia: 

After visiting Segovia, we traveled by bus to the city of La Granja, where we enjoyed a visit to the gardens at the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso:

The magnificent tree in front of the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso, La Granja, Spain:

Fuente "Los baños de Diana," La Granja, Spain. The fountains were turned off while we were there (and the castle was closed because it was Monday) but we enjoyed the fountain sculptures and the gardens, patterned after the more famous Chateau Versailles, France: 

Gardens and fountains at La Granja: 

Fuente "el Canastillo," with the Sierra de Guadarrama in the background:

One last view of the magnificent Acueducto de Segovia before we headed back to Madrid:

It's no wonder that Segovia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most visited cities in Spain. For more pictures, click here.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Our Anniversary Getaway to the Sigüenza Parador

Our 45th Wedding Anniversary was August 29, 2012, so the weekend before that, we decided to leave Madrid and go stay in a Spanish parador. A parador is a luxury hotel, located in a historic building such as a monastery, palace, fortress, convent, or castle. One of the top-rated paradores of Spain is the Castillo de Sigüenza, located about 100 miles east of Madrid. We took the train on an early morning and returned to Madrid the next day.

The Castillo (castle) de Sigüenza was originally built in the 5th century AD by the Moors (Muslims) but changed hands several times. It was ruled by Celtíberos, Romans and Visigoths and converted first into an Arabic citadel and then into a bishop´s palace. Today, it is a four-star hotel:

The sign at the entrance, with the Spanish Parador slogan, "Quality, Friendliness, and Legend":

Scott and Beverly at the vehicle entrance to the parador, just after arriving at the Castillo de Sigüenza:

The front of the castle (the archway at the bottom is the main entrance to the Parador):

The castle sits high on a hill above the Henares river and the city of Sigüenza below. The old city lies on the other side of this hill; this side of the castle is mostly barren:

The main courtyard of the castle/parador:

Moon over Sigüenza and a view of our balcony from the courtyard:

Scott and Beverly sitting on our balcony above the courtyard:

Our charming room (not a luxury room, but certainly nice for a room in a medieval castle. The ancient kings who lived in the castle never had it so good):

This is a wall hanging in our room, the first time we have ever seen a picture of Madonna and Child in a hotel room! But then, this castle served as a Catholic bishop's palace:

Stairwell from our room area down to meeting rooms and the main lobby:

The Plaza Mayor with the Cathedral of Sigüenza in the background:

The corner of Calle de San Juan (left) and Calle Travesaña Alta (the most ancient street in the city, dating back to the early 1100's), with the Puerta del Hierro (a medieval gate) in the far background:

A path where we enjoyed an evening walk around the hill below the castle (in the background):

After two wonderful days of visiting Sigüenza, we bade farewell to the castle on the hill above the city. This is a view of the castle and the newer part of the city from the train:

It was an anniversary getaway that we will never forget!