December 21, 2012

Visiting an Aqueduct

Almost 10 years ago I went to Rome and saw the Coliseum and the Pantheon. At both sights the ancient architecture and engineering were impressive, but neither met my lofty expectations. Perhaps it was how they were jammed into neighborhoods. Or the hordes of people crowding about that made it difficult to admire these structures in the location they sit throughout time. That was not the case with the aqueduct in Segovia. This two thousand year old structure in the Castile and León region of Spain exceeded my expectations.

It's amazing to stand next to a historical structure.
I have never seen anything like the Segovia aqueduct.

The structure towers over the town square. It has stood the test of time and changing beliefs. A cross now stands by one of the pillars and a statue of the Virgin Mary is perched up overlooking the town square.

We visited the town of Segovia on the first leg of our road trip around northern Spain - Madrid to Rioja. As we approached the town I expected to see the aqueduct from a distance dwarfing the buildings of the current town but did not. Instead there were modern suburbs and neighborhoods. We stopped for lunch at a small cafe, skipping the popular touristy restaurants in the center of town. Then we continued driving through the narrow streets. At one point we came around the corner of an ordinary block and there it was - the aqueduct. A massive stone structure stretching across the valley that houses the center of town, the Segovia aqueduct is still perfectly even with square corners two thousand years after it was built.

The stones fit perfectly together with no mortar.

A narrow street approaching Plaza Mayor and the cathedral in the medieval part of Segovia.

We parked our car and walked along side the stones down to the center of town. From there we continued up some stairs to the hill that is home to the historic old city. Standing there we could look out along the ancient structure that appeared even straighter and more perfect than from below. Every stone was the exact shape to press up against the one next to it. And the amazing thing is this huge structure was built without mortar and still stands strong and secure today.

The Segovia Cathedral
From the top of the stairs by the aqueduct, we headed off to explore the medieval part of Segovia. We walked through the narrow streets of the old city to Plaza Mayor and the Segovia Cathedral. As we got further away from the aqueduct the streets became quiet with locals going about their business, a shop here or there, and a few tourists wandering around with cameras. At Plaza Mayor we went to the cathedral. Inside the cathedral was amazing - I found it to be much more grand and ornate than I expected to see in this small city. The chapels were all beautifully decorated with religious paintings and carvings from centuries past. And there was a feeling of calm; as well as reminders that this church is still part of everyday life here in Segovia. As tourists walked by women were sweeping the floors and people were sitting on the pews focused on prayer and contemplation. It was a beautiful and serene place being appreciated by both locals and visitors alike.

Inside the Segovia Cathedral.

Leaving the church, we started walking back to where we parked our car. At the far end of the town there is castle, but unfortunately we did not have time to visit on this trip to Segovia. It was late in the afternoon and it was time to leave the aqueduct and drive to the next stop of our road trip...

1 comment:

Bethany Miller said...

Looks amazing. Standing in cathedrals is my favorite part- so beautiful, so much history- I wish the walls could talk!