Legend has it that the devil built Segovia’s (pop. 56,000) famed aqueduct in one night, in an effort to win the soul of a Segovian water-selier named Juanilla. Devil or not, Segovia’s attractions and winding alleyways entice their share of Spanish and international tourists, as well as students seeking to practice their espanol. In the 12th and 13th centuries, Segovia had more Romanesque monuments than anywhere else in Europe. Today, its remaining cathedrals and castles represent Castilla at its fmest a labyrinthine town of twisted alleys and old-town charm. However, pleasure has its price: food and accommodations are more expensive than in Madrid. In the Sierra de Guadarrama, 88km northwest of Madrid, Segovia is close enough to the capital to be a daytrip but definitely warrants a longer stay.
TRANSPORTATION AND PRACTICAL INFORMATION. Trains (921 42 07 74), Po. Obispo Quesada, run to Madrid (2hr.; 7-9 per day M-F 5:55am-8:55pm, Sa-Su 8:55am-8:55pm; ‚5). Buses run from Estacionamiento Municipal de Autobuses, Po. Ezequiel Gonzalez 12, at the comer of Av. Fernandez Ladreda. La Sepulvedana (921 42 77 07) sends buses to Madrid (lVfehr.; M-F every 30min. 6am-9:30pm, Sa 7:30am-9:30pm, Su 8:30am-10:30pm; ‚6). Linecar (921 42 77 06) sends buses to Salamanca (3hr.; 4 per day M-F 8:50am-5:45pm; Sa 8:50am, 1:30, 5:45pm; Su 5:45pm; ‚8.50). From the train station, take any bus (‚.70) to the Plaza Mayor, the city’s historic center and site of the regional tourist office. Segovia is impossible to navigate without a map, so pick one up here. (Open June-Aug. Su-Th 9am-8pm, F-Sa 9am-9pm; Sept.-May M-F 9am-2pm and 5-7pm, Sa-Su 9am-2pm and 5-8pm.) The Po. del Salon bus (M-F every 30min. 7:45am-10:15pm) runs directly to the steps of Puerta del Sol. To access the Internet, try Locutorio Mundo 2000, PI. de Azoguejo 4, between Homo de Asar and the Jimena clothing store. (‚0.90 per 30min. ‚1 per 1 hr. Open daily llam-llpm.)
ACCOMMODATIONS AND FOOD. Reservations are a must for any of Segovia’s hotels, especially those in or around major plazas. Budget travelers should prepare to pay ‚21 or more for a single and arrive early to ensure space. The pen-siones are significantly cheaper, but rooms tend to be on the less comfortable side of basic. To reach liHospedaje El Gato , PI. del Salvador 10, which has beautiful rooms and individual bathrooms, TV, and AC, follow the aqueduct up the hill, turning left on C. Ochoa Ondategui; it meets San Alfonso Rodriguez which leads into PI. del Salvador. (921 42 32 44; fax 921 43 80 47. Doubles ‚35; triples ‚49.) Hotel Las Sirenas , C. Juan Bravo 30, down C. Cervantes, has luxurious rooms with TV, shower, telephone, and AC. (92146 26 63; fax 92146 26 57. Singles ‚36-45, with bath ‚42-50; doubles with bath ‚55-65. AmExMCV.) For a fortifying experience, try the stone walls and rustic rooms of the Pension Ferri , C. Escud-eros 10, off the Plaza Mayor. (921 46 09 57. Showers ‚2. Singles ‚13; doubles ‚19.) From PI. Azoguejo, follow the aqueduct down C. Teodosio and turn left; around the bend and up the slope is Hostal Don Jai’me 0, Ochoa Ondategui 8. This hostal has rooms with wood paneling and large mirrors. (921 44 47 87. Singles ‚22, with bath ‚30; doubles with bath ‚40; triples with bath ‚50. MCV.) Camping
Acueducto , C. Borbon 49Ctra. Nacional 601, km 112, is 2km toward La Granja. Take the AutoBus Urbano (‚0.65) from PI. Azoguejo to Nueva Segovia, (-s’fax 921 42 50 00. Open Semana Santa-Sept. ‚4.30 per person, per tent, and per car.)
Sample Segovia’s famed lamb, cochinillo asado (roast suckling pig), or sopa castellana (soup with bread, eggs, and garlic), but steer clear of pricey Plaza Mayor and PI. Azoguejo. Buy groceries at %Dfa, C. Gobernador Fernandez Gimenez 3, off C. Fernandez Ladreda. (Open M-Th 9:30am-8:30pm, F-Sa 9am-9pm). At the casual but classy ESBar-Meson Cueva de San Esteban , C. Vadelaguila 15, off PI. Esteban and C. Escuderos, the owner knows his wines, and the service is friendly. (921 46 09 82. Lunch menus M-F ‚8, Sa-Su ‚10. Entrees ‚7-14. Wines ‚1-3. Open daily lOam-midnight. MCV.) At GiMeson El Cordero , C. del Carmen 4-6, spreads of wine, meats, and other specials are a feast for the eyes and the stomach. (Selection of menus from ‚9. Entrees ‚9-15. Open M-Sa 12:30-4:30pm and 8pm-midnight, Su 12-6pm.) For tasty vegetarian options (‚3.60-9) as well as meat entrees (‚6-10), try Restaurante La Almuzara 0, C. Marques del Arco 3, past the cathedral. (Open Tu 8pm-midnight, W-Su 12:45-4pm and 8pm-midnight.)
SIGHTS AND ENTERTAINMENT. Segovia rewards the wanderer. Its picturesque museums, palaces, churches, and streets beg closer observation. The serpentine DlRoman aqueduct, built in 50 BC, commands the entrance to the old city. Supported by 128 pillars that span 813m and reach a height of 29m near PI. Azoguejo, the two tiers of 163 arches were constructed out of some 20,000 blocks of granite without any mortar to hold them together. This spectacular feat of engineering, restored by the monarchy in the 15th century, can transport 30 liters of water per second and was used until the late 1940s. The cathedral, commissioned by Carlos V in 1525, towers over the Plaza Mayor. Inside, the Sala Capitular, nicknamed The Lady of all Cathedrals, displays intricate tapestries. (Open Apr.-Oct. daily 9am-6:30pm; Nov.-Mar. 9:30am-6pm. ‚2.) The Alcazar, a late-medieval castle and site of Isabel’s coronation in 1474, dominates the northern end of the old quarter. In the Sala de Solio (throne room), an inscription reads: Tanto monta, monta tanto (she mounts, as does he). Get your mind out of the gutter this simply means that Ferdinand and Isabella had equal authority as sovereigns. The 140 steps up a nausea-inducing spiral staircase to the top of the Torre de Juan II (80m high) afford a marvelous view of Segovia and the surrounding plains.
Though the city isn’t particularly known for its sleepless nights, native Seg-ovians know how to party. Packed with bars and cafes, the Plaza Mayor is the center of nightlife. Club headquarters are on Calle Ruiz de Alda, off PI. Azoguejo. You can count on a party every night at La Luna, C. Puerta de la Luna 8, where a young crowd downs cheap shots and Heineken. (Shots ‚1. Beer ‚1.50. Open daily 4:30pm-4am.) From June 24-29, Segovia celebrates a fiesta, complete with free open-air concerts, dances, and fireworks, in honor of San Juan and San Pedro.
DAYTRIP FROM SEGOVIA: LA GRANJA DE SAN ILDEFONSO. The royal palace and grounds of La Granja, 9km southeast of Segovia, were commissioned by Philip V, the first Bourbon King. Of the four royal summer retreats (the others being El Pardo, El Escorial, and Aranjuez), this Versailles of Spain is by far the most extravagant. Marble, lace curtains, lavish crystal chandeliers, and a world-class collection of Flemish tapestries enliven the palace, while manicured gardens and a forest envelop it. (Open daily Apr.-Sept. Tu-Su 10am-6pm; Oct.-Mar. Tu-Sa 10am-l:30pm and 3-5pm, Su 10am-2pm. ‚5, students and EU seniors ‚2.50. W free for EU citizens. Mandatory guided tours in Spanish depart every 15min.) Buses run to La Granja from Segovia (20min. 9-12 per day, round-trip ‚1.50).
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