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 Spain Segovia Podtours

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Summer residence of the Spanish royal court

Segovia, high in the mountains of the Guadarrama north of Madrid, freezes in winter - but in summer it's pleasantly cool compared to the city in the plain. It's not surprising that Segovia became a favourite summer residence for the Kings of Spain.

Its history goes back all the way to the Romans, who built the impressive aqueduct which is the symbol of the city, and brings water 14 kilometres from the mountains. After a period of Arab rule, the city was retaken by the Christians in 1088; a series of fine Romanesque churches were built, with fine galleries and carved capitals showing a mixture of subjects - fighting animals, monsters, and scenes from the Bible. Later, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Segovia became a Renaissance city par excellence, with fine patrician mansions and one of the last and biggest Gothic cathedrals in Spain. (An excerpt from Victorian architect GE Street on the subject of Segovia cathedral is biased, but interesting.)

Our audio tour takes the Calle Real ('royal road') from the aqueduct towards the Alcazar, the most dramatic castle in Spain - built on the end of the ridge of rock that underlies the city, like the prow of a ship. On the way we'll visit the Romanesque churches of San Millan and San Martin, as well as the ancient Synagogue of Segovia - now a church. It's a little known treasure of Spanish Jewry, similar to the much better known synagogue of Santa Maria la Blanca in Toledo. The tour continues through the cathedral and the Alcazar, before returning to the aqueduct through the noble quarter of the city.

In the Alcazar, you'll see how the forms and themes of Islamic architecture continued under Christianity - many builders and carpenters were of Moorish descent. Even though Segovia is in no way a major centre of Moorish culture, like Granada or Cordoba, its Islamic past is always there if you look hard enough for it.

As a special bonus we've included an audio tour of the barrio of San Lorenzo, just outside the city, where the mudejar population lived - Arabs who stayed under Christianity, and managed the market gardens here. It's a spot the tourist coaches miss, but it has a character all its own and is well worth the detour.

Podtour of Segovia

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