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Things to Do in Segovia

Segovia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site perched on a ridge above the rolling plains of Central Spain, is replete with history and myth—its ancient aqueduct a lasting testament to Roman grandeur. Local legend says the city was founded by Hercules and Walt Disney supposedly modeled Disneyland’s castle after Segovia’s Alcazar.

The Basics
One of Spain’s most picturesque towns, Segovia is frequented by day-trippers from Madrid, though those with time to spare won’t regret spending a night or two. A guided Segovia tour often includes attractions like the Roman aqueduct, 16th-century Cathedral of Segovia, Alcazar of Segovia, and the Plazuela de San Martín. For adventure seekers and couples, Segovia is a popular destination for hot air balloon rides above the gorgeous medieval city. 

Things to Know Before You Go
  • Segovia is a must-visit for history buffs and couples.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and prepare to do a fair bit of walking; Segovia’s old city is easily navigable on foot.
  • Don’t forget sun protection; like much of Spain, shade can be hard to come by in Segovia.
  • Day trips to Segovia from Madrid are typically combined with another destination, like Toledo or Avila, and can last more than nine hours.

How to Get There
Segovia is located 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest of Madrid. It’s possible to get there by taking a 30-minute high-speed train or buses that run once or twice an hour from Moncloa bus station in Madrid.

When to Get There
Segovia enjoys mild winters and long spring and autumn seasons. To avoid the high season crowds (and scorching temperatures), plan to visit between September and May.

Dining in Segovia
Restaurants in Segovia serve cuisine typical of the Castilla region. The city’s most famous dish is cochinillo, or roast suckling pig, but other regional specialties include roasted lamb, broad bean stew, cured meats and sausages, and verdel, a seasonal grilled mackerel dish.
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Casa de los Picos
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On your journey from Segovia’s Roman aqueduct to its Plaza Mayor, you’ll no doubt pass by one of the city’s most intriguing buildings, the Casa de los Picos. One look at the façade and you’ll easily see how it earned its name, the (loosely translated) House of Sharp Points, as its front is covered top to bottom with over 600 granite, diamond-shaped reliefs.

It is believed that the 15th century noble home’s curious façade was created as a possible form of defense given the building’s rather exposed location. Legend has it, though, that the house was well known (famously or infamously) for its previous owners, so when new ones moved in, they chose to cover the façade. These days, the thick-walled structure is home to the Segovia Art School and serves as an exhibition hall, which is open to the public free of charge.

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Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso (La Granja)
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Tucked away in the Guadarrama Mountains is one of Spain’s most decadent treasures: the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso (more commonly called La Granja). Modeled after France’s Versailles, the estate features European palatial grandeur at its best, ranging from an interior packed with all the royal amenities — think mural-covered ceilings, and gilt detailing — and an exterior wonderland of lush, manicured mountain gardens.

The land here previously served as hunting grounds for the kings, after which it was donated to monks, and later purchased back into monarchy hands by Philip V, who built the palace you see today. Once a royal summer residence, it is indeed more than just a mansion; it also comes with some 1,500 acres of glorious gardens laced by paths and dotted by copper-finished fountains.

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