Daytrips to Toledo and Segovia
03.11.2009 - 04.11.2009
My first day trip from Madrid was to Toledo which is an interesting city that was the capital of Spain until the 16th century and is a nice day trip approximately an hour from Madrid. The city is now famed for the co-existence of the three cultures, Jewish, Christian and Muslim however in reality this was only for a specified period of time and Toledo was also the battle line for the Muslims and Christians. It is a history that seems based as much on heresay and half truths as it does actual factual history.
The city itself has a very medieval feels about it enhanced by the massive number of shops selling knives, swords, crossbows and templar/Spartan (oddly) like amour. Apparently the city was also famous for its iron production, particularly swords before being replaced by Madrid as the capital. As in all European cities of this type it has a quite nice Alcazar and cathedral as well as some nice synagogues to be seen. The city also has a very labyrinth type feel about it as well owing to the very small nook like streets that go in every direction but straight.
Overall a very cool city and one well worth visiting if only to get out of Madrid for the day and see a different city. The most difficult thing we found was actually getting there after finding out that the information in both books was wrong and after asking two different information desks and getting two different answers. Once we actually got to the right bus station however we were able to get there and back quite comfortably.
My second day trip was to Segovia which is again about an hour out of Madrid by bus, this time however I had no problems finding where to go and was on my way before I knew it. This city was used more by the Romans and the Moorish kingdoms and has a well preserved old town that highlights this.
The main attraction here is the Aqueduct of Segovia which is apparently among one of the best preserved and most significant structures built by the Romans left in Spain. However local legend also has it that the aqueduct was in fact built by the devil to either impress a local water seller named Juanita or as part of a pact towards obtaining her soul. The aqueduct transports the water from a river approximately 18km away at ~30L/s utilizing a grade of approximately 1%. The aqueduct uses weirs and baffles to provide natural decantation therefore remove the dirt by sedimentation and purify the water. The aqueduct reaches a maximum height of ~28m in the city and runs for almost a kilometer to completely dominate the city skyline as well as demarcating the entrance to the old town.
The alcazar here is also impressive and it yet another candidate to be the model for the Disney castle. This castle like a lot in this area started off as a Moorish fort and was embellished by the Spanish after conquest to the spectacle that it is today. The castle has also been through many transitions from residential palace to prison to military academy and now to a display castle. The castle is also the site where Fernando II married Isabelle I and includes an inscription above the throw that translates to both monarchs having equal authority (very unusual for the times). The castle also has a nice tower of some 1000 or so steps that provides a nice bit of exercise (if only a tad dizzying due to their spiral nature) and some spectacular views of the city especially of the cathedral and its littering of spires.
The cathedral here is also quite spectacular with an incredible number of spires that are well displayed within the gothic architecture. The cathedral itself was built with 23 different chapels and its beauty has earnt it the moniker of “the lady of all cathedrals”.
Here I tried some of the local delicacy which involved Castilian soup and roast pork with fries. The soup itself is quite curios, a mixture of garlic, eggs, garlic, bread, garlic, sausage and more garlic. Seriously I quite like garlic but this was just ridiculously! They did however round out the menu with a jug of wine (ice cold red which didn’t inspire me as to the quality) and profiteroles so one cannot really complain.