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Patterns of Segovia

Segovia Cathedral

When night falls and the day-trippers return to Madrid, Segovia takes on a quiet magic befitting its dramatic location. My mother and I are here for several nights, and from our room on the top floor of a small hotel, we can see the sky turning darker shades of violet. A triangular window has playfully been cut into the wall, following the slope of the ceiling and framing the floodlit tower of the proud alcázar. The fortress, said to have inspired Walt Disney’s Snow White Castle, commands the surrounding countryside like the prow of a ship, rising above a sheer drop on three sides and narrowing to a sharp point.

Beneath the weathered stones of the Roman Aqueduct an orchestra performs the recognisable strains of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. In the plaza we join a captive audience, transfixed by the rousing notes of the tenor and then, the wailing soprano.

One of Segovia’s specialties – the perfect fuel for those harsh Castilian winters – is cochinillo, or roasted suckling pig. The delicacy is wheeled into the dining room whole, then carved up with much aplomb using the edge of a sturdy porcelain plate. We observe the chef’s speed and skill, a substantial gold medallion hung triumphantly around his neck. The cochinillo is so tender and inviting that even my mother, who is an avowed pescatarian, cannot resist snapping off a sheet of crispy skin.

Segovia is earthy, rich and textured, like the patterns on the ancient houses that line her twisting streets. On our explorations through the old town, we savour the swirling designs surrounding a Gothic window frame, the pyramidal shapes of the Casa de los Picos, and the reliefs that effortlessly catch the colours of the sinking sun. The next time we come to Spain, my mother declares, Segovia will be a mandatory stop.

Music by the Roman Aqueduct

Casa de los Picos – House of the Points

Circles and diamonds

Old town streetscape

Ancient doors

Spinning wheels

Shield of hearts

Floral relief

The Alcázar – inspiration for Snow White Castle

Alcázar gardens

Moorish tiles

Shield of Castile and León

View from the Alcázar

32 Comments Post a comment
  1. Just checked out your blog and love the detail about the places you’ve seen-your writing really transports the reader to each place. I just started a blog on castles/photography and this is exactly the style of writing I want to use and get better at. Hope to read more soon-Enjoy your future travels!

    September 19, 2012
    • Thank you, what a kind and flattering thing to say! Keep practicing your writing, don’t be afraid to experiment, and try to strike a balance between narrating your firsthand experience and giving an account of the place’s history.

      I too have a penchant for ancient sites, and one of my earliest posts was on the ruins of Glastonbury. The writing wasn’t terribly convincing, but most importantly, it was a start!

      September 19, 2012
  2. One sentence: Spain seems to never run out of beautiful places. I love that view from the Alcázar.

    September 19, 2012
    • Segovia is one of Spain’s most beautiful cities – easily walkable and dripping with history. I would recommend it to just about everyone!

      September 19, 2012
  3. Ah, James, another of your wonderful posts! I love that you concentrated not on the showy front-liner, the Alcazar, but on the architectural detailing, because it is, indeed, marvellous. Made me nostalgic thinking of you and your mother having Roast Sucking Pig (sic) under the arches of the aqueduct – I had it too, with my parents, when we went together in 1974. 🙂

    September 19, 2012
    • Thank you Meredith! Great to hear you had such a similar experience with your parents. 🙂 It was my second time in Segovia so I was less preoccupied with the bigger sights like the cathedral and Alcázar. As for the cochinillo, I guess it must be an enduring part of Segovia’s identity – on our way to the bus station we passed a roundabout with a monument cast in honour of the dish!

      September 19, 2012
      • Oh yes, the cochinillo must have been famous for centuries – Mum knew about it, and she didn’t read guide books to find out 🙂

        September 22, 2012
  4. Wow! Beautiful shapes, colors, and shadows.

    September 19, 2012
    • It was lovely just to wander through the old town. 🙂

      September 19, 2012
  5. Beautiful pictures! I just arrived back home a couple of months ago, but you’re making me want to travel overseas again and explore new places! HOW do you get the chance to travel all the time? Jealous! 😉

    September 20, 2012
    • Ha, well these photos were taken last summer when I was still in Spain! I’ve been meaning to post this for a long time but I never got around to it. 😛 The truth is I haven’t been travelling since coming back from Guilin at the end of May – now I’m just itching to go somewhere!

      September 20, 2012
  6. Very interesting and nice. The patterns are wonderful.

    September 20, 2012
  7. Absolutely gorgeous entry!!!

    September 20, 2012
    • Thank you, Nicole!

      September 21, 2012
      • I was there in 1993 with my mom. I will never forget the roast suckling pigs in the windows! They looked so cute but I never could bare to try eating them.

        September 21, 2012
      • To be honest they did look quite pitiful when they were wheeled out whole…

        September 22, 2012
  8. I love the details on these buildings, thanks James.

    September 22, 2012
    • You’re welcome Deb!

      September 22, 2012
  9. belmak25 #

    beautiful patterns and photos!

    September 25, 2012
    • Segovia is a gorgeous place. 🙂

      September 28, 2012
  10. Reblogged this on rabbanisemesta.

    September 25, 2012
  11. Hey I’m writing a post about Segovia. Would it be okay if I popped in a link to your post? The photos are stunning!

    September 27, 2012
    • Sure Heather, thanks for linking me!

      September 28, 2012
  12. James, I really enjoy your blog, so it came instantly to mind when I was thinking of One Lovely Blog Award:

    October 1, 2012
  13. It is such as a good place.. And i promise to myself to go here somedays 😀

    October 9, 2012
    • You should! Segovia is one of my favourite cities in Spain.

      October 9, 2012
  14. I studied abroad in Spain in July 2010 and Segovia was my home for that month. I really enjoyed this post as it brought back some great memories. Segovia is such an enchanting city, rich with history and culture, and I definitely plan to return some day.

    May 11, 2013
  15. Reblogged this on Holiday Rent Club in Spain.

    August 9, 2013
  16. Very well written! Segovia is such a romantic and beautiful place, and you captured it wonderfully in this post; living in Madrid I sometimes forget how close some of these fantastic cities are, now I’ll have to go back for more suckling pig…

    January 10, 2014
    • Thanks for the comment! The suckling pig in Segovia was truly the best I’ve ever had…

      January 11, 2014

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  1. Within the Walls of Segovia « a year abroad

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