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Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct

By Cassie

What is the Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct?

Segovia, located in central Spain, is an interesting medieval city, home to a number of important monuments ranging from a Roman Aqueduct, dating to about 50 AD, to the Alcazar, which dates to the 11th century, to palaces and a cathedral from the 15th and 16th century.

The layout of the city was determined by its different cultural communities: Moors, Christians and Jews. These three groups coexisted and cooperated, particularly during the 16th century, when the city was an important manufacturing center.

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Text: Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct. Images: above, the aqueduct; below, the cathedral.
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Why is the Old Town of Segovia a World Heritage site?

Anyone who visits Segovia can immediately see why the city is a World Heritage site. The old city of Segovia is perched high on a rocky bluff with the magnificent aqueduct at one end and the impressive Segovia Castile at the other. 

According to UNESCO, “Segovia is symbolic of a complex, historical reality. Its neighbourhoods, streets, and houses are laid out in accordance with a social structure in which hierarchy was organized and dominated by belonging to one of the different cultural communities. Moors, Christians, and Jews coexisted for a long period of time in the medieval city and worked together during the 16th century manufacturing boom.”

View down the length of the aqueduct, seen from the height of the upper row of arches.
The Roman Aqueduct.

In addition, it has several monuments “which in terms of beauty and exemplary historical significance, are truly outstanding.” This refers particularly to the Aqueduct, the Alcazar and the Cathedral:

The very impressive Roman Aqueduct carried water from the mountains 17 kilometers (11 miles) away into the city. It was in use for almost 2000 years – until 1973. With arches in two tiers and 221 large pillars, it is in excellent condition. It is 813 meters (2,667 feet) long. In the building that used to hold the Mint, there is now a museum all about the Aqueduct.

The late-Gothic Segovia Cathedral dates to the 16th century. It is open for visitors, and the ticket also allows admission to the Episcopal Palace – also dating to the 16th century – where the bishops of Segovia used to live. The palace holds a collection of art belonging to the diocese.

The Cathedral, lit up dramatically at night.
The Cathedral.

The Alcázar is a medieval fortress and royal palace dating to the 12th-13th century, but renovated a number of times since then. Built for the Castilian monarchy, it perches high on a rocky hill, complete with moat, drawbridge, towers and keep. It is fortress-like on the outside but was opulent on the inside. It is now a museum, open to visitors.

What can you expect on visit to Segovia?

Many people visit Segovia as a day trip from Madrid. It’s possible to see pretty much all of the city in a day, but if you have longer, take two days and really get under the skin of this beautiful medieval city. Do not miss visiting the Alcázar (highly recommended to book in advance) and the Aqueduct. While you’re in between the two, just meander and enjoy the beauty of this ancient city. 

If you do decide to stay a while, you can use the map below to find your accommodations in the center of Segovia.

Is Segovia worth visiting?

There is nowhere like Segovia, so it’s absolutely worth a visit whether you are on a day trip from Madrid or exploring Spain in general. There are also many other excellent UNESCO sites not far from Segovia.

What sorts of travelers would like Segovia?

I think most people would enjoy a visit to Segovia whether travelling solo, with kids or in a group. There’s something for everyone in this fascinating place. 

A castle on a hill, with walls and a central tower.
The Alcázar.

Tips for visiting Segovia

Expect to walk a lot as although the Old Town of Segovia is small, there’s a lot to see. 

To save time, book tickets ahead of time for the Cathedral (and Palace) or book them together with an audio guide to the Cathedral so you’ll know what you’re seeing.

Alternatively, sign up for a private walking tour of the town, or take a hot-air balloon ride over it!

A hallway, lit from the side, with gothic detailing around the arches and the archway at the end.
The cloister in the Cathedral.

Where is the Old Town of Segovia?

Segovia is located an hour and 15 minutes’ drive from Madrid. The city centre is pedestrianised, so if you drive, be prepared to park outside the old town and walk in. 

It’s possible to reach Segovia by either bus or train from Madrid. It takes just over an hour to get to Segovia from Madrid’s Charmartin train station. 

There are plenty of different tours available from Madrid as well; click on the banner below to see the options:

Have you been to Segovia? If so, do you have any additional information or advice about this UNESCO World Heritage site? Please add your comments below!

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