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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Alcazar of Segovia

The Alcazar of Segovia is a stone fortification, located in the old city of Segovia, Spain. It is also literally called as Segovia Castle which is a famous tourist attraction and travel destination. The details of Alcazar of Segovia are explained in world tour guides below. Rising out on a rocky crag above the confluence of the rivers Eresma and Clamores near the Guadarrama mountains, it is one of the most distinctive castle-palaces in Spain by virtue of its shape - like the bow of a ship. The Alcazar was originally built as a fortress but has served as a royal palace, a state prison, a Royal Artillery College and a military academy since then.

Alcazar of SegoviaThe Alcazar of Segovia, like many fortifications in Spain, started off as an Arab fort. The first reference to this particular Alcazar was in 1120, around 32 years after the city of Segovia returned to Christian hands. However, archaeological evidence suggests that the site of this Alcazar was once used in Roman times as a fortification. This theory is further substantiated by the presence of Segovia's famous Roman Aqueduct.

The shape and form of the Alcazar was not known until the reign of King Alfonso VIII, however early documentation mentioned a wooden stockade fence. It can be concluded that prior to Alfonso VIII's reign, it was no more than a wooden fort built over the old Roman foundations. Alfonso VIII and his wife, Eleanor of Plantagenet made this Alcazar their principal residence and much work was carried out to erect the beginnings of the stone fortification we see today.

The Alcazar, throughout the Middle Ages, remained one of the favorite residences of the monarchs of the Kingdom of Castile and a key fortress in the defense of the kingdom. It was during this period a majority of the current building was constructed and the palace was extended on a large scale by the monarchs of the Trastamara dynasty. In 1258, parts of the Alcazar had to be rebuilt by King Alfonso X of Castile after a cave-in and soon after the Hall of Kings were built to house Parliament. However, the single largest contributor to the continuing construction of the Alcazar is King John II which built the New Tower.

In 1474, the Alcazar played a major role in the rise of Queen Isabella I of Castile. On the 12th December news of the King Henry IV's death in Madrid reached Segovia and Isabella immediately took refuge within the walls of this Alcazar where she received the support of Andres Cabrera and Segovias council. She was crowned the next day as Queen of Castile and Leon. It was also the site where she married Ferdinand II.

Alcazar of SegoviaAlcazar of Segovia Throne RoomThe next major renovation at the Alcazar was conducted by King Philip II after his marriage to Anna of Austria. He added the sharp slate spires to reflect the castles of central Europe. In 1587, architect Francisco de Morar completed the main garden and the School of Honor areas of the castle. The royal court eventually moved to Madrid and the Alcazar then served as a state prison for almost two centuries before King Charles III founded the Royal Artillery School in 1762. It served this function for almost a hundred years until March 6 1862 where a fire badly damaged the roofs and framework. It was only in 1882 that the building was slowly restored to its original state. In 1896, King Alfonso XIII ordered the Alcazar to be handed over to the Ministry of War as a military college.

Today, the Alcazar remains one of the most popular historical sights in Spain and is one of the three major attractions in Segovia. Notable rooms are the Hall of Ajimeces which houses many works of art, the Hall of the Throne and the Hall of Kings with a frieze representing all of the Spanish Kings and Queens starting from Pelagius of Asturias down to Juana la Loca after moving to El Palacio Real in Madrid, Spain.

1 comment:

Gary at SpainGuides.com said...

Segovia truly is one of the most beautiful places I have visited in Spain. We also enjoyed the famous roasted baby pig in one of the typical restaurants near the castle , an which I would highly recommend to all travellers to this historic city.

Thanks again.. great bog.