One of the best experiences I’ve had with the AIFS in Salamanca, Spain program and since going abroad is getting to explore Segovia, Spain.
Segovia is home to three huge wonders:
- A Roman aqueduct built in the first century A.D.
- A huge cathedral.
- A castle used by important Spanish royalty such as Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand — my favorite.
It’s also the perfect spot to visit if you want to experience authentic Spanish culture, see Roman and Moorish architecture, learn about Spain’s rich history, and find some of the coolest souvenir shops in Spain. This town really has a bit of everything: beauty, history, culture, and fun.
The first thing we saw was the aqueduct in Segovia that was built by the Romans in the first century A.D. It’s incredible for three reasons: first, because it’s just impressively massive; second, because of how precise the angle had to be to get water to flow from the mountains to the city at the right speed and consistency without modern tools; and third, because there isn’t any kind of bonding agent holding the stones together. Even the stones on the arches are just really heavy and placed so precisely that they hold each other up. I remember learning about these when I took Latin in middle school, so it was really cool to see one in person. This one was still functioning until the beginning of the twentieth century.
After the aqueduct, we walked through the city and learned a little bit about its history. It used to be made up of two cities, one on the inside of a gate and one surrounding it. The inside was inhabited by the rich and still houses several small palaces with architecture inspired by Moorish Spain. The poor used to live on the outside the gate. Now the gate is gone and it is all one city, but you can still see the history. The Plaza Mayor (main square) of Segovia holds a smaller church where Queen Isabella was crowned after her brother died and a huge cathedral that was built by the same architect as the cathedral in Salamanca.
After that we went to my favorite part, the castle. Fun fact: this castle was the inspiration for the one in Snow White (according to our guide). The crazy part is that the pictures I got don’t show the most astounding view. We saw it first driving by on a bus — it was huge and looming, built up into a hill, with birds flying all around it like something out of a storybook. The inside is gorgeous with ornate ceilings of real gold, red, and other colors. We walked all throughout it learning what each room was used for. Then, we climbed 100+ stairs to the top of the castle to overlook the entire city. Here, with delicious lunches our host families packed for us or food we brought from Salamanca, we ate a royal lunch with the best view. It was an actual dream come true.