First Excursion – Segovia
Yesterday many of the extranjeros (foreign exchange students) took a short bus trip south of the city to Segovia; known mostly for it’s vast Roman aqueduct that welcomes you in to the city. Block by block the Roman empire constructed this aqueduct as a means to bring water to the city 15K from the top of the mountains. By the time the water arrived in the city for use, it was clean and filtered … que intelligente! The aqueduct also served as a propaganda device, showing communities like Segovia how great and helpful the Roman Empire was for all the people. Projects like the aqueduct, bridges, and major road construction were ways to symbolize the power of the empire and keep the community in favor of the rulers.
We toured the city with three professors from the university and got to hear legends and history of the city. Many Spanish cities like this are rich with a mixture of cultures. The influences of the Roman Empire, Muslim and Jewish citizens, and the takeover of the Catholic church can all be seen within inches of each other. Some buildings here had Roman window architecture with Muslim decoration and served as Jewish temples. After touring the city, snacking on lunches our host families had packed us, and seeing sites such as the city’s Plaza Mayor and Gothic cathedral, we met up in the afternoon to visit Alcazar, the castle at the Northern end of Segovia.
The castle on the outside wasn’t that impressive to me, but the inside was gorgeous! I loved this castle. We toured through the rooms and saw many examples of armor, furniture, and decoration consistent with the 16th century when this castle was in it’s prime. The techos (ceilings) were the most impressive. I’m a sucker for Muslim interior decoration, and this was some of the most spectacular I have seen! It was very geometric and ornate, utilizing bold blues, reds, and greens to complement the excessive use of gold. They were spectacular! Even though the decoration was Muslim, the Catholic reyes (king and queen) Isabel and Ferndinand lived here for a period of time. It was cool to look out the windows at the Spanish countryside like they too had viewed. After touring the inside, we hiked up a narrow spiral staircase to the top of the tower and took in the views of Segovia and it’s countryside. Beautiful. It reminded me of many Wisconsin state park towers I had hiked up back home, but with a less foresty view.
Everyone seemed to enjoy Segovia very much! Our next excursion we’re headed to Salamanca!
Courtney Cerniglia is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point majoring in business administration and Spanish.