The history of Segovia
Segovia is a medieval city located in the centre of Spain, about 100 km from Madrid.
Capital of Spain in the Middle Ages, its central geographical location allowed the various kings to maintain their power in Spain.
Famous in part because of its aqueduct which revolutionized the lives of its inhabitants, Segovia is one of the most beautiful medieval cities in Spain.
Discover throughout our article everything you wanted to know about this magnificent medieval city.
If you wish to visit the medieval city then you will find in this post everything you need to organize your stay.
The Segovia Aqueduct
Mainly famous thanks to its imposing aqueduct, it was built during the Roman Empire around the first century AD.
It brought water from the river hechebeda for almost 2000 years directly into the city. The water was stored in large tanks and redistributed to the city’s inhabitants, allowing them to have quick access to water.
The Segovia aqueduct is 813 metres long and almost 29 metres high at its highest point.
It consists of 127 arches and 20,000 granite blocks. The peculiarity of this building is that there is no trace of mortar between the stones that form it.
The masons have applied an engineering system based on physics – the stones rest one on top of the other. To achieve this result they used wooden structures where they made the stones rest, once the whole was stable the wooden structures could be removed.
The Segovia Aqueduct
Who built the Alcazar de Segovia
Research shows that the Alcázar de Segovia was built with the same stones as the aqueduct, which means that it was built by the Romans.
In order to strengthen the protection of the Alcázar and to protect the fortress as well as possible, its builders built it at the foot of a ditch more than 20 meters deep.
Naturally deep, it is from this ditch that the stones were extracted to create the Alcázar and the aqueduct, making it even deeper and more dangerous.
It is possible to see the traces left in the ditch when the stones were cut.
Alfonso 8 the Noble was one of the first monarchs to live in the Alcázar, followed by a large number of monarchs.
The Alcázar was a place where many decisions on the legacy of the Spanish crown were made.
Its visit is very interesting and we advise you to take an audioguide if you do not have a private English speaking guide.
Alcazar of Segovia
Visit Segovia from Madrid
The advantage of visiting Madrid is that there are a multitude of cities like Segovia and Toledo that can be visited in one day. In another article we will tell you more about what to do in Toledo, a medieval city classified as a UNESCO National Heritage Site.
Segovia is famous all over the world for its citadel, aqueduct and gastronomy. In this article we will tell you about the different things to do during your stay in Segovia and you will see that despite its small size not everything can be visited in one day.
How to get to Segovia
Segovia is part of the Autonomous Community of Castilla y León, named “historical and cultural community” for its great cultural wealth.
It is made up of nine provinces: Avila, Burgos, León, Palencia, Salamanca, Segovia, Soria, Valladolid and Zamora.
It is the largest autonomous community in Spain and the sixth most populated, with 2,409,165 inhabitants.
The city of Segovia is located in the northwest and is an hour’s drive from Madrid. There are three options to get there:
The first option is to go by car.
You can easily find a car rental company in the city centre of Madrid. It takes a good hour’s drive to get there. There is an underground car park a few meters from the aqueduct.
It is also possible to book a private driver who will drive you from Madrid to the medieval city. This option is interesting if you wish to visit the city with a private guide.
Besides not having to worry about the route your guide will show you the city in an intimate and unique way.
The second, faster and cheaper solution is to take the train from Madrid Chamartin station to Segovia station.
This option is convenient, but very restrictive, you have to respect the train timetable so you don’t miss the time and once in Segovia you have to get on a bus that goes back and forth between the centre and the station.
It is quite possible to visit Segovia with a guide while leaving Madrid by train.
The last option is to take a bus from Madrid to Segovia.
The departure will be from Moncloa and you will arrive in 1h30. There are on average 1 to 2 buses per hour (EMT bus network website at the end of the article). It is the cheapest solution, but the longest.
The Madrid-Segovia connection is very easy. If you don’t want to organize this excursion yourself, don’t hesitate to write to us, the Madrid Discovery team will propose you the ideal itinerary to live a unique and authentic experience.
Visit Segovia Spain from Madrid
When to visit Segovia
We often get this question, it is indeed important to ask when to visit Segovia or Madrid, because some periods are not very favourable for tourism.
The ideal time to visit Segovia is from mid-March to mid-November, the most frightened will prefer the months of May to October. The temperature in summer is hot (very hot in August) and cold in winter (very cold in January and February).
If the cold doesn’t bother you then Christmas is the ideal time, the atmosphere is very warm and spending Christmas in Spain is an unforgettable experience!
It is not very common to have rain, but if you are travelling at the beginning or end of the season then we recommend that you take warm clothes to protect you from the cold and rain.
What to do in Segovia
What to do in Segovia? The advantage of visiting Madrid is that the region offers a wide variety of activities including visits to medieval cities.
The city of Segovia offers three main interests, castles, gastronomy and possible hiking around the city.
First we will list the different visits to do and then we will talk about the gastronomy and what to eat in Segovia.
The city of Segovia is one of the oldest cities in Spain where many civilizations such as the Celts, Romans and Moors have lived and left traces.
Visiting this city is therefore a step back in time several hundred years. The part of Segovia that can be visited is the old town, very easy to get to and not much frequented by tourists you will have the opportunity to visit unique monuments rich in history.
The following monuments can be visited independently, but if you prefer to visit them with a guide please do not hesitate to contact us and check our offer on our web page, we will offer you a unique experience in a confidential setting in the company of an English speaking guide.
The Alcázar of Segovia
The visit to the Alcázar is one of the most interesting tours of the city. Here you will be able to visit the different rooms where the history of Spain was written, which will offer you a complementary visit to the Royal Palace of Madrid.
Allow a good hour to visit the entire Alcázar.
The Segovia Alcázar is made up of 3 parts: the museum, the castle and the Juan 2 tower. It is possible to buy a ticket to visit all of them or to buy a ticket for each part.
We advise you to take a tour of the Juan 2 tower to have a great view of the city, but don’t forget that 152 steps of a spiral staircase await you!
Summer schedule : (from April 1st to October 31st) from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm
Winter schedule : (from November 1st to March 31st) from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
The Alcázar is not open all year round and we advise you to visit their website for the latest updates.
Prices are available on the website of the l’alcazar, children under 5 years old have free entrance. You can rent an audio guide during your visit to the Alcázar de Segovia for 3€, it is available in more than 10 languages.
The Segovia Aqueduct
The Segovia aqueduct is part of the landscape of the medieval city, you can’t miss it. To have one of the most beautiful views of the building we recommend you take the stairs that are located on the right side of the aqueduct, once at the top you will be on the rampart and will have a great view.
The cathedral of Segovia, imposing by its size and architecture and a must during your visit to the city.
It is composed of 3 naves forming a Latin cross plan, the cathedral has side chapels, a transept with a semicircular apse with a choir and a tower.
It is possible to enter the cathedral through three doors: the Puerta de San Geroteo, the Puerta de San Frutos and the Puerta de Santa María.
Opening hours of the cathedral :
March to November: Monday to Sunday: 9:30 am to 6:30 pm (last passage half an hour before)
April to October: Monday to Sunday: 09h00 to 21h30 (last passage half an hour before)
The cathedral is closed 30 minutes before closing time. We advise you to visit the cathedral between April and November.
The cathedral of the medieval city
Guided tour of the tower of the cathedral of segovia
It is possible to take part in a guided tour of the tower present in the cathedral, here are the schedules :
March to November:
Monday to Sunday: 10:30 (guided tour in Spanish); 12:00 (guided tour in Spanish); 13:30 (guided tour in Spanish), (15:00 guided tour in English) and 16:30 (guided tour in Spanish).
April to October:
Monday to Sunday: 10:30 (guided tour in Spanish); 12:00 (guided tour in Spanish); 13:30 (guided tour in Spanish), (15:00 guided tour in English); 16:30 (guided tour in Spanish); 18:00 (guided tour in Spanish) and 19:30 (guided tour in Spanish)
May to October:
Friday, Saturday and Sunday: 21:30 (special night guided tour including a visit to the interior of the illuminated cathedral – in Spanish)
Muralla of Segovia
Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, it is one of the most beautiful and ancient walls in Spain.
The total length of the wall is 3 km 406m and can be up to 2.5 m thick. Its height has been estimated to average around 9.50m.
The wall was composed of 5 gates acting as toll gates, currently it is possible to see 3 of them: The gate of San Andrés, the gate of Santiago and the gate of Saint-Cyprien.
Take a walk in the Jewish quarter of the old town
We advise you to visit the Jewish quarter after the wall, the walled walkway of the wall will give you a breathtaking view of the Jewish quarter of the city and the general architecture of the city.
Once the visit of the wall is over, go to the Jewish quarter of the city to discover the atypical architecture of the district.
Eating in Segovia
Segovia is best known for its magnificent Roman aqueduct and its magnificent alcazar, but for food lovers from all over the world it is one of the best places to taste the suckling pig, a speciality of the region.
Visiting the medieval city is above all to taste a suckling pig and enjoy a moment of tasting during your stay in Spain.
Discover what to eat and above all where to eat the best dishes of the city.
Tortilla de patatas
What to eat?
Very nourishing suckling pig is a specialty of the region, tender and tasty this dish will give you enough energy to go around the city walls again.
Crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside the suckling pig must melt in the mouth to be perfect.
This dish is very well known in the region, so much so that the people of Madrid go to Segovia on Sundays to taste it.
It is also important to note that this dish must follow some rules; the suckling pig must be no more than 3 weeks old and be fed only milk and weigh no more than 5kg.
This makes the meat very tender and tasty.
There is even a contest for the best suckling pig!
We advise you to order a suckling pig for 4 to 5 people, the chef will prepare it for you and divide it into several portions. If you travel in summer, don’t order too many dishes, because the suckling pig is very nutritious and will be enough to satisfy you.
The suckling pig is not the only traditional dish you can enjoy during your visit.
The “Judiones de la granja” are large white beans prepared in a soup, creamy and tasty this dish will be ideal when visiting the city in winter. It is often eaten with chorizo and tocino* in the manner of a Madrid cocido.
You will find many other equally delicious dishes on the restaurant menu, to start with we recommend sharing a Russian salad, castellan soup or some croquetas. The offer of wine (mainly red wine) is also very wide in this region and would not displease you.
Finally for dessert it is imperative to taste the local pastry el ponche segoviano. Composed of a light sponge cake covered with custard and a thin layer of marzipan it will be ideal to end your meal.
*marzipan: slightly sweet almond paste.
Where to eat?
After different visits to Segovia we could low the selection of the best restaurants and pastries or eat a good suckling pig and buy a segoviano poncho. In general the restaurants in Segovia are all of very good quality, so it is safe to go to the restaurant of your choice.
Here is our selection of restaurants and pastries:
Mesón De Cándido; an authentic restaurant where you can enjoy a large terrace. Very easy to find it is located very close to the aqueduct. The suckling pig is delicious and their pastries are exquisite!
La cocina de Segovia; gastronomic restaurant it will suit people looking for a more exclusive setting, the cuisine is delicious and the service of quality. Their wine list is very wide and will suit all tastes.
Jose Maria; authentic and rustic restaurant typical of Segovia. Quality suckling pig, economical wine list and family atmosphere. Far away from the tourist area, it will suit people looking for a more authentic setting.
If you wish to buy pastries and especially el ponche de segovia we recommend you to go to Lemon and Mint (on the plaza mayor) they are famous for having the best pastries of the city.
Restaurant – suckling pig
When to eat?
You probably know it and you must have realized during your first days in Spain that Spanish timetables are different from other countries, lunch and dinner are much later than in our country.
Spaniards are used to eat a sandwich or a pincho de tortilla around 11H30 / 12H00, it’s the almuerzo. This allows them to have lunch around 14H30 / 15H00.
Restaurants do not open their kitchen before 14H00, in big cities like Madrid or Barcelona it will be possible to find a table for 13H00 but this is not common.
It is the same for dinner, restaurants do not serve before 20H45 / 21H00 and it is not uncommon to reserve a table for 23H00.
Segovia’s restaurants have adapted to their international clientele and offer more flexible dining hours.
However, we suggest that you contact the restaurant via their social networks or web page to find out the opening hours.
Visit the surroundings of the medieval city
If you can easily move around by car then we recommend you to make visits outside the medieval city, you will be amazed to discover the cultural richness of this region. Discover our selection of 4 things to do around Segovia. If you like more intimate sights and places away from the crowds of tourists then these are the places for you.
Monastère de Santa María del Parral
You will have the opportunity to discover the Roman Catholic monastery of the monks of the Order of Saint Jerome, outside the centre of Segovia. Visits are not open every day and we advise you to contact the monastery directly to make a visit.
Monastery opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday from 11am to 5pm, closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Royal Palace of the Granja de San Ildefonso
Visit this magnificent royal palace of the Granja de San Ildefonso during your tour of the city.
Opening hours of the Royal Palace of the Granja de San Ildefonso :
From 01 April to 30 September: Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 20:00, closed on Mondays.
From 01 October to 31 March: Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, closed on Mondays.
The palace of San Ildefonso is not open every day, here is the link to the official website of the palace.
Do you have any questions about how to organize your stay, what to visit in Madrid or which hotel to take? Don’t hesitate to write to us, our specialist guides in Madrid will help you prepare your stay.
Do you want to visit Madrid with a family with a guide? Are you passionate about art and dreaming of visiting the Prado Museum?
See you soon in Madrid.