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Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Water and not-graffiti - Segovia, Spain

On 13 April we caught a coach for a trip to Segovia. This was a short holiday break (13th-16th), staying in that ancient city, and then spending a day visiting Salamanca, and an hour at Avilla and three hours in Madrid on our return.

Jen had been to Segovia before, but I hadn’t. It is a quite spectacular sight, the old town set high on a rocky spur, surrounded by the rivers Eresma and Clamores. The twelfth century Alcazar is perched on a rocky outcrop, like the prow of a ship, its towers and turrets like something out of a fairy tale. To extend the nautical metaphor, the pinnacles of the splendid cathedral rise like masts, and the 1st century Roman aqueduct trails behind like a rudder.

The beauty of the city is that so many sites are within walking distance. Here, I’ll briefly look at two.

The aqueduct was in use until the late 19th century. This construction still takes your breath away, standing tall and slicing through the city. It consists of two tiers of arches, about 2,400ft in length and follows the contours of the ground. Its maximum height is 95ft. The design, incorporating sufficient gradient for the water to flow from the river source, through a series of tanks along the way, is impressive too. And the structure is constructed without benefit of mortar.

So many building facades are endowed with attractive and elaborate geometric shapes, almost like tapestry, covering the entire wall. The technique involved scratching the plaster coat to create the symmetric shapes and goes back to the 16th century. In Segovia there are in excess of 300 different sgraffito examples.

Next: the Alcazar and the Cathedral.

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