Segovia borders with Burgos, Soria and Valladolid to the north; with
Madrid to the southeast and with Ávila to the west. 16th century
Segovia Cathedral is one of the best attractions in Spain.
In December 1985, UNESCO included “the
old city of Segovia and its Roman aqueduct” on the list of World Heritage
Cities. There was no shortage of reasons for this, taking into account the
beautiful location, the milieu, buildings, green areas and streets. All these
aspects carry a fair amount of weight in UNESCO’s decision-taking process. There
is, however, more to the city than its physical appearance, which can be seen
here and now. We are referring to something that lies hidden in the city’s very
essence: the human factor.
Segovia is what it is today because it was here that Alfonso X studied the
firmament; because Quevedo drew his inspiration from the town and its people
when writing his picaresque novel, El Buscón don Pablos; because it was here
that the Catholic Sovereign, Isabella I of Castile, was proclaimed queen, a
major event in Spanish history; and it was here that the first book in Spain was
printed. The character of Segovia has been forged by the mystic poets, Juan de
la Cruz and Teresa de Jesús; by the intrepid warriors led by Juan Bravo el
Comunero; by Día Sanz and Fernán García, who won Madrid back from the Moors; by
the words of writer María Zambrano; by the discussions and lectures organised by
Antonio Machado at the local school; by Gómez de la Serna, who revealed “The
Secret of the Aqueduct”; and by Louis Proust, who did his research at the Royal
Chemistry Laboratory, watched over by the fortress.
Moreover, Segovia once had a Hebrew synagogue, assiduously attended by devotees,
including distinguished figures such as Abraham Senneor, a high court judge
responsible for the Jewish quarters of Castile. In the Moorish district, Ulema
Iça de Gebir wrote his major work, Kitab segoviano o Breviario sunní, while
Tomás de Torquemada, the Prior of the nearby monastery, Monasterio de Santa
Cruz, devised ways of undertaking a thorough cleansing of the religious
environment. Segovia also flourished on account of its international wool trade
and its thriving textile industry, which for centuries afforded the local people
a reasonable standard of living.
All this is reflected in the city’s
architecture and, above all, in the Archives, the zealous guardians of its
historical documents. Nevertheless, Segovia is a city still in the making, with
an economy based on cultural attractions and gastronomy, offering visitors an
interesting combination of museums and exhibition rooms on the one hand and a
variety of taverns and restaurants tempting us with the delights of Segovia’s
cuisine on the other. In the course of the year, streets and squares are
transformed into stages for a number of artistic activities. At Easter, music
lovers have the opportunity to attend the sacred music concerts held at the
local churches. At Titirimundi, puppets and marionettes tell us impossible tales
full of magic and imagination.
Folksegovia is now the most highly acclaimed world folk music festival in Spain.
In an ideal setting – just by the old, Romanesque stones of San Juan de los
Caballeros – our ears are bathed in rhythms from Africa one minute and by the
rousing bagpipes of Scotland the next. But there is still more: palace patios,
convent cloisters and elegant façades provide a backcloth for the International
Music Festival, whose programme includes Chamber Music Week, the Youth Festival
and the Open Festival (theatre, music and dance). Naturally enough, the fact
that the city has two university campuses broadens the scope of educational and
cultural activities even more. As each day passes, Segovia grows in significance
while the monuments of this World Heritage City look on in silence.