Sunday, June 17, 2007

Segovia - Thank goodness for weddings and umbrellas

Yesterday we took a day trip to Segovia, about an hour North of Madrid. It used to be a Roman town, and today is the capital of the province of Castile-Leon. Unfortunately rain threatened most of the day, and finally came at the end, but we still had a wonderful time. Our first stop was the famous landmark of the city, its aqueduct. The aqueduct was built in the first century AD, and runs 19 miles, and stands over 93 feet in some places. It is one of the best preserved aqueducts in the world and was in use until the 19th century. Here is a shot of it right as you enter the city.

This is another picture of it, showing the channel that the water moves through. The aqueduct is unique because it does not use mortar or cement. Those stones are expertly cut, and are not fastened together with ANYTHING. Even the arches are supported only by the keystones.

I just liked this angle, took a picture, and liked the picture, so I'm sticking it up.

Here you can see the granite blocks and how they are joined together, as well as a niche that holds a statue of the Blessed Mother and the Spanish flag. The holes you see on the blocks were once hung with marble slabs, but were eventually lost or taken down.

Another shot of the underside of the arches. As you can see, rain clouds were beginning to gather. Nevertheless, Alex, Julian and I got on the aqueduct for a quick picture.

Our next stop was the famous Alcazar or fortress of Segovia. It was built originally as a fortress, but served as a royal palace, a military academy, and a prison as well. It is here that Queen Isabel comissioned Columbus to sail to discover the New World, and we saw the throne she sat on when he came before her with his discovery.

In the courtyard, with one of the cannon barrels.

Alex preparing to shoot Andrew out of a howitzer.

Real knight's armor!

Alex and Julian standing with two sets of armor.

A magnificent painting of a knight fighting the moors.

Andrew inspects one of the small cannons in the museum.

This photo is really interesting because you can see the rifling of the cannon barrel. They also had the machines that did the rifling.

And here is some ammunition.

The silver mass set used by the rulers of Spain.

Next we went outside onto the parapet where we got this great view of some of the fortifications.

And here's a picture of me with the Castilian countryside in the background.

A pike in the weapon museum.

And a giant stone cannon, complete with cannon ball.

This shield was the real mccoy, not a replica, and shows the combined kingdoms of the lions of Leon quartered with the castles of Castile.

And here we have a captured moorish shield.

Hey Madeline, recognize this picture? Andrew hiding in one of the coffers.

OK, so just as we got up to the tower of San Juan, it started POURING. We braved the elements to run outside and get a few pictures including this one of Julian, Alex and Andrew.

And this one showing the entire Alcazar from the top.

As well as this picture showing the moat. No wonder the Alcazar was never taken!

Next we went to the Cathedral of Segovia. It was built in the 16th century and was the last Gothic cathedral built in Spain. Now by the time we got to the Cathedral, it was past closing time so we thought we wouldn't be able to get in. However there was a wedding taking place so we just marched on in with the guests, which meant that we also saved the 6 Euro entrance fee! Hurray for weddings!

This is a shot of the high altar.

One of the splendid Roman chasubles on display.

This is the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament.

This is an altar made entirely out of porcelain.

Next we went across the street to the church where Isabel was crowned Queen where we guessed it, guests streaming into the church. We marched right in, where yet another wedding was about to begin, and saved another 2 Euro entrance fee!

I had to chuckle when I saw this altar donated by the artillerymen of the Alcazar in thanksgiving for a victory over the moors.

This is one of the magnificent side altars, vaguely reminscent of Bernini's baldachino in St. Peter's in Rome.

And here's the high altar, where Queen Isabel was crowned.

By the time we were done with the church we were very wet, so we stopped inside a cafe for some hot chocolate, Spanish style.

As you can see, Spanish hot chocolate is very rich. It's very thick, almost like drinking hot chocolate pudding. I'd love to know how they make it!

On our way out of the city we passed this cliff that has a special place in the hearts of Segovians. A woman converted to the Catholic faith which so enraged her husband that he threw her off this cliff. As she was falling, the Virgin Mary appeared to her, gathered her up from falling and set her gently on the ground. Today a fountain marks the spot where she safely landed.

A last look at Segovia with the rain clouds over it, showing the Alcazar and the Cathedral.

And for our last image, we have the grand Roman aqueduct. Goodbye from Segovia!


beehappy1960 said...

Glad that you were able to salvage the day! It sure looks like everyone was having a great time. Also, I see the money you saved on entrance fees was spent on hot chocolate.....nice.... I am surprised Erika has not booked a flight to Spain just to try it.

The McKinnon Family said...

Hey guys!!!
Awesome blog, you do a great job keeping it all up! The sites there look incredible; I can't wait to go to Italy, Spain, and all the other countries around here! If y'all are ever down around Kaiserslautern, Germany I'll let you know where to go out here! =] Have fun!
-Mary McKinnon

Anonymous said...

You copy-cats:-P hahaha...It is so great seeing ya'll there and so funny. I know so many of the places you have been! SO awesome!!!

Aggie said...

Love the story about the cliff and the BVM saving her. Joe and I were in Segovia Cathedral, although we had to pay. You sneaks.... Gotta love that hot choclate.