AlcazarThe greatest number of Spain’s 2,000+ castles can be found in Castile (Castilla y Leon), which unsurprisingly derived its name from castillo or castle. This region was the battleground between the Moors and the Christians in the 10th and 11th centuries.
Segovia’s Alcazar (Arabic for castle or fort) was built between 1410 and 1455. The Moors were finally expelled from Spain in 1492 (as were 200,000 Jews as a result of the Inquisition). The Alcazar had to be largely rebuilt following a fire in 1862.
With its bartizan turrets and atypical Spanish pointed turrets, it’s an eye-catching edifice perched on a rocky outcrop at one end of the city. There are many attractive chambers to tour round; the horses room is one of the oldest: here can be found mounted knights in full armour; the galera room boasts an exquisite ceiling, faithfully restored after the fire; the monarch room’s cornices are depictions of all of the monarchs of Castile, and the queens, and counts, including El Cid;
the weapons room has an impressive display of cannon, armour, crossbows, mortars, and other devastating weapons. The view from the battlements is panoramic.
CathedralA short walk from the Alcazar is the St Mary and St Fructus Cathedral, the last Gothic cathedral raised in Spain in the Renaissance. Its construction began in 1525 and continued for 150 years (consecrated in 1678). There are many side chapels behind graceful ironwork grilles and a new cloister (built between 1524 and 1528, so it’s not that new!) to visit.
The pinnacles, flying buttresses, tower and dome create a striking silhouette. Inside, it is elegantly vaulted with immense pillars.