Segovia is located in the center of Spain in the community of Castile and León, just 50 miles from Madrid. This city is known for its Roman Aqueduct, one of the Roman Empire’s most astounding engineering feats built in the 1st century. This aqueduct was used to transport water to the city until the mid 19th century. This imposing structure’s enormous pillars and arches welcome visitors to the city.
The Alcázar, or Segovia Castle, was built in Roman times. The first documented record dates back to the 12th century when the Moors occupied the city until Alfonso VI of Castile captured Segovia. It was here that Isabella was proclaimed queen and where she married King Ferdinand.
The castle also served as a prison and later a military school. Within its walls, one can visit the Throne Hall and the Hall of Kings where a frieze depicts many of the Spanish kings and queens. The castle contains important works of art as well as large display of knight’s armor.
It has been said that this castle was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s famous castle.
The majority of Segovia’s attractions are found in the Old Town, a medieval world of ancient cobblestone streets, narrow alleys and charming squares filled with artisan boutiques, specialty shops and restaurants.
Toledo, located just south of Madrid, is a bustling city with a rich history dating back to medieval times. It is here that Christian, Muslim and Jewish cultures co-existed, and each left its own unique footprint.
Walking down the narrow, twisting cobblestone streets of this medieval city surrounded by fortified city walls, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported back in time, a time of Kings and Queens and knights in shining armor.
Toledo is a treasure trove of paintings and sculptures by the famous 16th century Spanish painter, El Greco. The Church of St. Tome is home to one of El Greco’s most famous paintings, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz, a portrait of the town’s most notable 16th century citizens dressed in full Renaissance attire.
Gothic architecture abounds in Toledo with the 13th century Cathedral of Toledo and the monastery of Saint John of the Kings, built in the 15th Century by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.
Perhaps the most impressive historical site is the 3rd century Roman Palace, the Alcázar of Toledo. It was here in 1521 that Hernán Cortés was received by King Charles I following Cortes’ conquest of the Aztecs in New Spain (Mexico).
Toledo has a long history of producing swords and other bladed weapons, which today are popular souvenirs. Another popular gift is Damascene jewelry. Damasquino is the medieval art of decorating non-precious metals with gold and originates from the artisan work of Damascus, Syria.
Madrid, Spain’s capital and the third largest city in the European Union, is filled with elegant boulevards, winding cobblestone alleys and expansive, manicured parks. The Buen Retiro Park is one of the most beautiful parks you’ll find in any European city. Rich collections of Spanish and European artwork can be found in Madrid’s numerous art museums and galleries including the impressive Prado Art Museum which houses the best collection of Spanish art by such masters as Francisco Goya, Diego Velazquez and El Greco.
The Centro de Arte Reina Sofia art museum is home to Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, Spain’s single-most famous artwork, as well as numerous other paintings by Picasso, Salvador Dalí and Joan Miró
Located in the heart of old Madrid is the portico-lined Plaza Mayor, a rare, expansive opening in the midst of narrow winding streets. This is the perfect place to sit down, relax and catch your breath while enjoying a traditional Spanish tapa and caña (small glass of cold beer) at one of the numerous outdoor restaurants after a long day of museums and sightseeing.