Saturday, October 19, 2013

SEGOVIA and MADRID

The Aqueduct of Segovia 
Aqueduct runs through the city
The curve of the arch - no mortar
One of the most amazing structures we’ve seen in all our travels is the Aqueduct of Segovia.  Built by the Romans in the 1st century, it is almost 3,000 feet long and 94 feet high at its highest point .  It carried water to the city from the a source in the mountains 11 miles away.  The 167 arches are made of 25,000 granite blocks joined without mortar and held together by force equilibrium.  
Segovia Cathedral

Alcazar
Segovia’s massive 16th  century cathedral is known as “The Lady of Cathedrals.” Situated in the main square of the city, it was the last Gothic church built in Spain.  


Kings Room Alcazar
The Alcazar of Segovia was has been a fortress, royal residence, prison and military academy. Today it is a museum and one of the most famous castles in Spain.  Supposedly, it inspired Cinderella's castle in Disney World.  

The Alcazar is designed like a ship, built around 2 courtyards and surrounded by a deep moat.  The rooms house antiquities, ancient artillery and works of art.  The ceilings are works of art in themselves.  In the Hall of Kings, the upper wall bordering the ceiling is lined with statuettes of Spanish monarchs.  
Our hotel in Segovia - former monastery


Plaza Mayor Madrid
The car trip portion of our journey came to an end in Madrid.  We said goodbye to our trusty Citroen after 5 months and 10 days on the road.  After returning the car to the leasing agent, we spent a few days in Madrid.  


The Royal Palace Madrid 
With a population of 3.3 million, the capital of Spain is a big, vibrant city. In fact, it is the third largest city in the European Union after London and Berlin. Madrid is a mixture of modern and historic.  Filled with museums and public plazas, it a wonderful city to explore on foot.  The largest square, Plaza Mayor, stands on the site of the medieval market.    
Almudena Cathedral

The Royal Palace with 3,418 rooms is one of the biggest palaces in Europe. Nowadays it is used for official functions only. The royal family reside in a more modest palace on the outskirts of the city.   
Ancient Egyptian Temple Madrid
The Prado Museum


Right across from the Royal Palace is the Almudena Cathedral, the only Spanish cathedral consecrated by a pope (Pope John Paul II in 1993).  Construction began in 1879 on the site of a medieval mosque that was destroyed in 1083 when the Spaniards defeated the Moors and reconquered Madrid.  The interior is beautiful and has a wide variety of art from historic to contemporary.  

One of the most unusual sites in Madrid is the Debod Temple.  The  2,000 year old temple was gifted to Spain by Egypt in appreciation for their help with dismantling and relocating the temples of Abu Simbel which would have been submerged when Lake Nassar was created.

Madrid deserves more than the few days we spent there.  We didn't have time to do more than walk by The Prado, a world famous art museum.   Perhaps next time!  Now it is on to Torremolinos and a few weeks in the sun.