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Thursday, 23 April 2015

Pointed turrets and flying buttresses in Segovia, Spain

Two other places we visited during our brief stay at Segovia were the Alcazar and the Cathedral.

The 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.

A 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.

There are many great works of art and sculptures, the most striking being Cristo Muerto (Dead Christ) by Gregorio Fernandez: dramatic features and blood flowing from the wounds of Jesus’ slender body; the remarkable realism is reinforced by the false eyes, teeth and nails.

The pinnacles, flying buttresses, tower and dome create a striking silhouette. Inside, it is elegantly vaulted with immense pillars.


Cathie Dunn said...

Fascinating post, Nik. Definitely a place I should visit one day. The Alcazar looks impressive.

It reminds me of a series on BBC4 about Isabella and Fernando who united Castille and Aragon. I only saw one series, and I'm not sure they ever made a second one. It was in Spanish with subtitles, a little slow, but very interesting.

Thanks for sharing.

Nik Morton said...

Thanks for commenting, Cathie. An interesting area, inevitably steeped in history and sights. We barely scraped the surface (but made no lasting mark...)