Segovia, El Escorial and Cuenca
Taking the day off from Madrid sightseeing, we caught an early train to Segovia and arrived to see the magnificent Roman aqueduct at 8:30 a.m. It was glowing in the morning son. When it was partially destroyed during the Reconquest War, Queen Isabella ordered it to be rebuilt. Unbelievably, the aqueduct has continued to serve as a source of water for the city of Segovia for 2,000 years. Other delights of this day trip included, what else, a cathedral and a castle!
The castle was amazing! Ferdinand and Isabella, the Catholic Monarchs, lived there at some point during their reign. The position of the fortress overlooking two rivers provides a great view and great protection from invaders! The castle looks it came from a fairy tale. In fact, Walt Disney is said to have modeled Sleeping Beauty's castle in Disneyland after the Alcazar in Segovia. We also saw a stork nesting in a giant tree on the castle grounds. I don't recall ever seeing a stork before. Sadly, I'm showing you a pretty crummy picture of the nest, but it was a delight nevertheless.
Another day trip from Madrid, El Escorial has an important place in Spanish history. The building is the most important architectural monument of the Spanish Renaissance. Construction of El Escorial began in 1563 and ended in 1584. The project was conceived by King Philip II, who wanted a building to serve the multiple purposes of a burial place for his father, Holy Roman emperor Charles V, a Hieronymite monastery; and a palace. In spite of visiting the palace in the rain, it was very grand. The frescoes on the ceilings are compared to those in the Sistine Chapel in Rome. No photos allowed, boo.
We needed some lunch and Paul saw the sign with the chili dog on it. His mouth started to water...but, it was just a sign, the restaurant did not even have hot dogs, much less chili dogs!!!
Cuenca was not on our list. Paul ran into some ex-pats who live in South America at the grocery store, and they raved about Cuenca. It is charming! A day trip from either Madrid or Valencia, it's a beautiful walled town. We saw the cathedral, crossed the breath-taking bridge, wandered the streets, went to the famous hanging houses that now are home to a beautiful museum, and generally had a great day. It's a nice day trip, a perfect amount to see and a lot of history.
Now we are off to Valencia, the home of paella.
Blurry mama stork in her next with babies. I want a new telephoto lens for Christmas!