Segovia Travel Guide
Segovia Local History
Castile and Leon (Castilla y Leon) is historically, aesthetically and culturally, the heartland of Spain. It is the region that shaped the nation's history. Its lofty central plains with open skies was frontier land, where castles and walled towns marked the slow push south of Christian forces in their struggle against the Moors. Spain's legendary hero, El Cid, was born here and was instrumental in the expulsion of the Moors from the region.
Once made up of several kingdoms, Castile and Leon today forms the largest autonomous region, composed of nine provinces: Avila, Burgos, Leon, Palencia, Salamanca, Segovia, Soria, Valladolid, and Zamora. Each has its own marked identity, but all share an extremely rich heritage. The capitals of all nine provinces were well established cities in the early Middle Ages and each boasts a cathedral and scores of monasteries and convents from the past. The pilgrims' route to Santiago de Compostela, which passed through the provinces of Burgos, Palencia and Leon, introduced Romanesque and then Gothic architecture and art forms into the region, and a magnificent cultural legacy emerged that combined new aesthetic ideas with the region's inherent spirituality.
Segovia Parks & Gardens
Palacio Real de la Granja - San Ildefonso de la Granja was the summer palace of the Bourbon kings of Spain, who replicated the grandeur of Versailles in the province of Segovia. Set against the snowcapped Sierra de Guadarrama, the slate-roofed palace dominates the village that grew up around it. Before the palace was built, in the early 18th century, a farm stood here.
Hence the totally incongruous name la granja, meaning "the farm" in Spanish. Most visitors, however, seem to find a stroll through the gardens very pleasing, so allow adequate time for that. The fountain statuary is a riot of cavorting gods and nymphs, hiding indiscretions behind jets of water. The gardens are studded with chestnuts and elms. A spectacular display takes place when the water jets are turned on. Admission is 4.81 adults, 2.25 children 5-14, free for children 4 and under. Located at the Plaza de Espana, 17. San Ildefonso (Segovia). Tel: 92/1470-019.
Segovia Restaurants and Bars
Segovia is a land of roasts. It is common in the whole of Castile-Leon, but in Segovia they are something beyond the norm. There, it is terribly hard to decide whether to have the roast suckling pig or the roast suckling lamb, since both of these oven specialties are the most delicious things that the excellent local restaurants offer. The suckling pig is the king of the Segovian roasts, but it is not the only one.
The suckling lamb is famous in this province, as in the rest of Castile-Leon. Beef is also great, specially the one that comes from the livestock that grazes in Pradena and Villacastin. Let us not forget that pork, ever-present in Segovian cuisine, is not only used for roasted dishes, but also in the making of excellent hams and sausages, like Iberian cured ham and the famous Cantimpalos chorizo, a spicy sausage that is very traditional of Spain.
El Bernardino - The restaurant is built like an old tavern and is located a 3-minute walk west of the Roman aqueduct. Lanterns hang from beamed ceilings, and the view over the red-tile rooftops of the city is delightful. The menu might include a huge paella, roast veal with potatoes, flan or ice cream, plus bread and wine. The roast dishes are exceptional here, including roast suckling pig, from a special oven, and roast baby lamb. You can also order grilled rib steak or stewed partridge. Reservations are recommended and main courses is 6 - 5. There is also a fixed-price menu at 21. Located on Cervantes 2. Tel: 92/1462-474.
La Concepcion - This restaurant is known as La Concha by the Segovians. This intimate and cozy establishment with its few tables, linen tableware, and silver cutlery can accommodate 30 patrons. The menu changes every season, and visitors will find the cuisine surprisingly creative. Recommended is the meat and fish dishes, poached eggs with little vegetables, and St. George's mushrooms. Other favourites include flamed-grilled lamb, and 'carre' Millefeuille filled with cream cheese. The wine cellar has 100 entries in which the bottles are monitored and room temperature maintained. Booking is essential and main courses are 20 - 40, with a Gourmet menu at 40. The restaurant is located at Plaza Mayor, 15 40001. Tel: 92/1460-930.
Meson de Candido - For years this beautiful old Spanish inn, standing on the eastern edge of the old town, has maintained a monopoly on the tourist trade. Apart from the hotel restaurants, it is the town's finest dining choice. The oldest part of the restaurant dates from 1822, and the place has gradually been enlarged since then. The restaurant's popularity can be judged by the crowds of hungry diners who fill every seat in the six dining rooms. The a la carte menu includes those two regional favourites: cordero asado (roast baby lamb) and cochinillo asado (roast suckling pig). Main courses are 9 - 15, and reservations are recommended. Meson de Candido is located on Plaza del Azoguejo, 5. Tel: 92/1425-911.
Restaurante Duque - This restaurant was established in 1895, and has been a local favourite since. The severely dignified interior looks almost unchanged since it was built. The decor includes heavy ceiling beams, exposed stone, rough-textured plaster, and battered 19th-century artifacts from long-ago farms. They serve the kind of cuisine that was in vogue when the restaurant was built, with very few concessions to modern cuisine. There is an excellent version of cream of crabmeat soup, roasted suckling pig slow-cooked on a spit, savoury roasted lamb with aromatic rosemary, thyme, and garlic, and different preparations of grilled chicken, veal, beef, and pork. An excellent accompaniment for any of these might include kidney beans cooked with chunks of salted cod, fresh spinach, and mounds of mashed potatoes or rice. Main courses 12-21, and reservations are recommended. Located on Calle Cervantes, 12. Tel: 92/1462-487.
Segovia Bars & Clubs
Nightlife areas in Segovia - Some of the most spontaneous good times can be created around the Plaza Mayor, Plaza Azagejo, and the busy Calle del Carmen that runs into the Plaza Azagejo. Each of those sites contains a scattering of simple bars and cafes that grow more crowded at night as the days grow hotter. If you want to go dancing, try Mansion (Calle de Juan Bravo), which is open nightly from 11pm till dawn for dancing, drinking, and flirting with the 20- to 30-year-old crowd. It is one of the most popular discos in Segovia. Or you might want to visit its somewhat more stylish competitor, Bar Ginasio (Paseo del Salon), which is open nightly from 8pm till dawn. It is a bit more atmospheric and frequented by persons from ages 25 to around 50.
Bar-Meson - A cavern-restaurant and bar, which serves draught beer. This spot is popular with locals and offers excellent value. Located off the top end of Plaza San Esteban, on Cuevas de San Esteban, c/Valdelaguila 15.
Meson de Jose Maria - This centrally located bar and restaurant, serves quality regional cuisine in a rustic stucco-and-brick dining room. Before dinner, locals crowd in for tapas at the bar, then move into the dining room for such Castilian specialties as roast suckling pig, rural-style conger eel, and freshly caught sea bream. Try the cream of crabmeat soup, roasted peppers, salmon with scrambled eggs, house-style hake, or grilled veal steak. For dessert, a specialty is ice cream tart with a whisky sauce. Main courses are 5.50 - 19, and there is a fixed-price menu at 24-36. Reservations are recommended. Situated 1 block east of the Plaza Mayor, on Cronista Lecea, 11. Tel: 92/1461-111.
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