I spotted my reflection in the window in the metro yesterday and realised I am a walking talking babushka! You know, the Russian dolls that are packed one into another and as you remove one layer, there is a smaller one inside it! Thankfully I am travelling solo and all pictorial evidence of my babushkan image will be destroyed and all that will remain is the image that these words conjure up. Last layer on and I am ready for my last day in Madrid...a day trip to Segovia.
Segovia's piece de resistance is the Roman Aqueduct. It is stunning to see this ancient emblem of the Roman times running through the centre of the town slicing it neatly into two halves. On one side is the new developed part of Segovia with its housing blocks and cars and buses vrooming up and down the busy roadways. And, through the arches of the aqueduct peeps the old town.
Andres at the tourist centre provides me with a map and outlines the route I must take. Besides the aqueduct the other main points of interest in Segovia are the Cathedral and the Alcazar i.e. the castle. En route to the Cathedral there are several historic structures. A plaque outside each one tells their story. The Cathedral comes upon me suddenly, as I turn into the erstwhile main plaza. Made of honey-hued stone, its main bell tower rises high amidst several slender steeples adorned with gargoyles. The inside is made up of many chambers, each one containing artworks related to different periods of Christianity.
From the Cathedral I make my way towards the Alcazar. Perched at the end of the town, the castle is straight out of a fairy tale. I half expect Rapunzel to be sitting with her hair hanging out of the window in one of the towers. I am not surprised to learn that the original castle was destroyed and this one was built only in the late 19th century. The walk back is along the outer periphery of the town with great views of the surrounding countryside and the snow-covered mountains beyond. The old Jewish quarter with its Synagogue, parts of the old wall and the original city gates help piece together the diverse history of Segovia.
Segovia and Cuenca are two of the Spanish cities vying for the spot of European Cultural Capital 2016. While I am not aware of the basis on which the choice is made, as a visitor my vote goes to Segovia. The city is obviously aware of the treasures it holds and is going all out to showcase them. Cuenca has a lot of catching up to do...it could start with getting its tourist information staff in to work!
From a potential cultural capital to an established cultural capital...it's time to pack and move on to Toledo tomorrow.