In many cities, the need to do something different gave someone the idea of painting and exposing colourful cows.
I don't know if it is always the same exhibition travelling around the world, or only the same idea expressed the same way in different places, but I've seen it almost everywhere.
Segovia was no exception, but, I must confess that, used to the image of the bull dominating Spanish landscape while promoting a drink, the cows where very well located, clearly integrated in the landcape, not working as the visual aggression that I felt, for instance in New York or Toronto.
Ten kilometers east of Segovia, the small town of San Ildefonso embraces the Royal Palace and Gardens.
Those monuments, the Glass Museum, and the whole site, reasonably preserved and under recuperation, deserves a relaxing visit for itself. Try to match the working period of the foutains.
L a Granja de San Ildefonso (or simply, "La Granja") was created by the king of French origin Felipe V, as a "copy" of Versailes.
It has a Palace, gardens (more "Romantic" than the ones of Versailes), and is famous for its fountains, as well as the forests and mountains of its surroundings.
When you are driving around Segovia Province, you will see numerous Meditterrainean Pine Trees with big gashes on their sides, as if some vandals have been at them.
In actual fact this is done officially (although it looks pretty ugly). It is a way of harvesting the resin in the pine tree.
I don't know what effect this has on the tree and its longevity. I can imagine it helps parasites penetrate the tree and do it lots of damage, but it seems to be a longstanding procedure, so perhaps it doesn't really effect the tree.
Most of the road signs in Segovia have very normal looking signs. This road (Calle de Isabel la Catolica - no prizes for guessing it means The Street of Isabel the Catholic!), which leads out of the Plaza Mayor has a much more interesting one.
This is a fairly typical thing to do in some Spanish Cities, you can see similar looking things in Madrid.
The Spanish are into pottery and tiles in a big way, and the Moors (from Africa) introduced some very sylish designs which are still copied to this day (although not in this case!)
I think Segovia qualifies as being a UNESCO World Heritage site just on the basis of its 2000 year old Aquaduct (it was built by the Romans in the 1st Century AD).
However when you consider that there is also the Cathedral and the Alcazar, which are also internationally renowned, it is not difficult to see how it got its status.
This plaque is at the foot of the Aquaduct, just by the tourist office. It's easy to miss if you don't know it is there. That's assuming you are interested in seeing it ;-)
The Granja de San Ildefonso is a bit of a big name to get your tongue around. Despite having been to Segovia many many times, I had never actually visited here until this time (Easter Day 2005).
If you are wondering what La Granja de San Ildefonso actually is, it is described as a 'Sumptuous Royal Pleasure Palace', which sounds a bit seedy to me! However I think that isn't quite what it is supposed to mean!
The Palace and Gardens were started in 1720 by Felipe V in an attempt to recreate his grandfathers palace (his Grandfather was King Louis XIV of France, and the palace was of course Versailles in Paris). Whilst I personally don't consider this to be as grand, it is still very impressive.
I particularly liked the gardens, which are free to enter, but it does cost to go into the Palace itself. (The church is also free). This picture is taken of the back of the palace from the gardens.
I have to admit to finding this tip a little sad, and it is also a bit past its sell by date in some respects.
Back around 10 or so years ago when I first started going to Spain and I started learning Spanish, I saw a Spanish video on Segovia (educational) and it featured a little old manwho had a very old box camera on a tripod. He would take photos of people poking their head through a decorated background that made them look like they were dressed in traditional costume.
After seeing this video and the other attractions on Segovia, I was keen to visit, and made it a priority the next time I was in Spain. Over the next few years, I actually had my picture taken by the old guy twice. I remember how on later occasions he would proudly jab his finger as this new plaque that was on the wall that dedicated the corner of the square to him. In the video he had appeared as a rather charming old man, in actual fact he was rather cantankerous!
The plaque basically states that this corner of the square is dedicated to the "Minute Man" (so called because it took him about a minute to expose the picture (and a few more to develop and print it!). He had been working there for over 50 years.
I haven't seen him for the last several years, so I can only assume he has died, and all that is left is this rather poorly looked after plaque that has not stood the test of time very well at all. If you want to see it, it is in the Square with San Martin church, and is next to a big yellow postbox alongside the road that leads down to the aquaduct.
Some of the best views of Segovia are from a distance. Probably the best view of the Alcazar is from directly underneath by the Iglesia de San Marcos (Iglesia means Church).
There is a small field and a river just here, and easy parking (for a change!), so it is simple to stop and look around for a few minutes.
The light had faded earlier than I expected on the day I took this picture, and the sky was very overcast, but when the sky is blue and the sun is lighting the Alcazar up directly, the view is stunning!
As for me, the most gripping thing about Segovia were the landscapes around the town. Especially as they are seen from the Tower of Juan II.
Yellow grass scorched by the hot Spanish sun, trees with green round crowns and sandy-coloured buildings of Segovia...
Besides all the monuments in Segovia, there is a pictoresque village 55 kms north-east from the actual town, called Sepulveda.
There, in the middle of dry fields there is a natural park, specially cool for hiking. In the Hoces (little steep canyons), you will enjoy the Duraton river and the bunch of black popplars that guard it.
The hicking routes are 6 to 12 kms long. They're scarce signs but it's almost impossible to get lost, since it's a valley.
Not only the river is the awesome point about the Hoces, but the numerous huge griffon vultures that breed there. When you go into the valley, they'll follow you for a while, as you'll realize when the fly over you: ffflll! Of course the won't attack you. On the contrary, in the breeding season the vulture chicks are extremely vulnerable and just a loud scream from a human would scare them, make them fall off and die. So please keep the place pleasantly silent.
And, the village of Sepulveda is, as most of the villages around, genuine and architercturally cosy.
make sure you notice things above and beyond just what your tourguide is speaking about. Look out of every window to the rolling prairie and town below, and when you find a view that catches your eye, frame it, capture it forever.
In the picture you can see my friends Fredo & Pablo, dressing their fashinable clothes to drive these wonderfull motorbikes. I'm sure you are admiring the red and blue ones, and not the perfect pose of Fredo, you are losing your time.
Built between 1.578 and 1.613.
Outside the city, on the road C-605 to Arévalo.
The last pic shows El Alcázar seen from the Santuario.
Just in front of Santuario de Ntra. Sra. de La Fuencisla, on the road C-605 to Arévalo.
The last pic shows Eresma river seen from el Arco (arch).