So, we already told you about our day trip to Toledo. Now, let us tell you about our favorite day trip from Madrid. It was to a town called Segovia.
Segovia is a small town (about 50K people) about an hour (by high speed train) north and a little bit west of Madrid. The train station is quite a ways from town, but there are buses that run from the train station to the heart of town and, at least when we went, there were buses waiting when the train arrived. Just make sure you check the bus schedule (posted on the road across the street from where the bus drops you off) so you know what bus you need to get back to the train station.
Segovia is known for four things.
The first is the aqueduct, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The aqueduct was built in the 1st or 2nd century — it seems historians can’t quite agree on the exact date.
While I haven’t confirmed the veracity of this, on-line sources tell me the aqueduct is made of over 24,000 granite blocks (held together without mortar), spans 818 meters (that is roughly 2700 feet for our American readers), reaches 30 meters (nearly 100 feet) in height, and has over 170 arches that weigh something like 20,000 tons. Believe it or not, it was used to provide water to the city into the 20th century.
The second is the cathedral. The cathedral was built in the mid-16th century and, at least from the outside, is one of the more impressive cathedrals we have seen. Unfortunately, we ran out of time and didn’t get a chance to go inside. It is supposedly quite nice inside.
The third is the Alcazar, another UNESCO World Heritage site. Apparently, there has been a fortress of one sort or another on the site of the Alcazar since Roman times. The current building was largely constructed during the Middle Ages, but it sounds like there has been a ton of remodeling and rebuilding over the years.
The royal court resided at the Segovia Alcazar until the 17th century. After that, the Alcazar was used as a prison for a bit. It then became the Royal Artillary School in the 18th century. Today, it is a museum. At least some people think it was one of the inspirations for Cinderella’s castle.
And the fourth, and by far the best, is roast suckling pig. Sweet baby pig. Known as cochinillo asado in Spain. There are a ton of rules for a real cochinillo, although the internet doesn’t completely agree on the scope of those rules. The general consensus is that the baby pigs can’t weigh more than 4-6.5 kilograms, they can’t be older than three or four weeks, they can’t eat anything other than milk, and even the mommy pig has to eat a special diet while nursing (rye, oats, cabbage, and potatoes according to one source). The pigs are brined in salt water, dried, and cooked in a special oven. The resulting product is so tender that it can be cut with a plate. If you visit Segovia, make sure to make a restaurant reservation in advance so you are sure to get a chance to taste the cochinillo asado. It isn’t cheap, but it is worth every penny.
We would go back to Segovia in a heartbeat.