Tag: Spain

4 Easy and Epic Day Trips from Madrid, Spain

4 Easy and Epic Day Trips from Madrid, Spain

Epic day trips to take from Madrid, Spain: Ávila, El Escorial, Segovia, and Toledo. How to get there, what to see, how long to stay.

13 Epic Things to do in Madrid, Spain

13 Epic Things to do in Madrid, Spain

Epic things to do in Madrid, Spain | Puerta del Sol | Plaza Mayor | Spanish Inquisition Tour | Flamenco | Bull Fight | Prado Museum | Royal Botanical Garden

Segovia, Spain: A Real Life Fairy Tale Get-Away

Segovia, Spain: A Real Life Fairy Tale Get-Away

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small fee from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you, which helps me maintain this site. Thank you for supporting The Clever West Wind.

This post goes out to all the hopeless romantics and star-eyed lovers out there. For those of you brainstorming romantic get-aways, Segovia, Spain, is a perfect, real life fairy tale destination. Complete with castles and moats and knights in shining armor, you need look no further.

Let’s be real here though. As much as I may be a sappy romantic myself, fairy tale endings are a funny concept to me. Many of the original endings were anything but happily-ever-afters. And the stories that did end in some form of justice typically resulted in some pretty ruthless medieval punishments for the villains.

Take, for instance, the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. In the original Grimm Brothers telling of Snow White, the evil step mother is forced to wear red-hot iron shoes and has to dance in them until she dies. Although this is a far more creative punishment than simply falling off a cliff as in more contemporary versions, it’s quite brutal! The original fairy tales are just plain dark.

However, for better or worse, most of our modern day cartoons have swapped the often gruesome and twisted medieval endings for something a bit less warped. But what do fairy tales have to do with Segovia? Keep reading to find out.

Roman Aqueduct in Segovia

An Overview of Segovia

With a population of roughly 51,000, Segovia, Spain, lies about an hour northwest of the capital, Madrid. It is easily reached by bus or train and makes for an excellent day trip from Madrid. You can conveniently book a day trip through different bus tour agencies right from Madrid’s Plaza del Sol.

Originally a Celtic settlement, Segovia passed through Roman, Moorish, and lastly Catholic rule. Today, Segovia’s old town is a UNESCO world heritage site. Multiple landmarks are included in this designation, such as the 1st century A.D. Roman aqueduct, the last gothic style cathedral built in Spain, and the Alcázar de Segovia. Exploring the Jewish quarter, the many historical buildings, and the quaint cobbled streets of Segovia won’t disappoint.

Alcázar de Segovia

Alcázar de Segovia

Appropriately shaped like the bow of a ship, the Alcázar de Segovia stands on a peninsula between the Eresma and Clamores rivers. The palace includes a keep, two towers, and two courtyards, all complete with a moat and drawbridge. In our explorations, we also discovered a beautifully manicured maze-like garden.

Initially a Roman fort, the Alcázar has been reconstructed by each successive ruling culture. Rebuilt by the the Moors, and then later by the Christians, little but perhaps the foundation remains from the Roman era. Through out the centuries, it has served as a fortress, a palace, a prison, and the Royal Artillery College.

If you choose to tour the castle today, you’ll be able to explore the Armory Museum located inside. We discovered countless old cannons, weaponry, and knights in shining armor!

You can also climb to the top of the keep. To get there, we climbed a narrow, winding stair case that only allowed for one direction of traffic. But the work out and the traffic jams were well worth the view from the top!

Alcázar de Segovia

Snow White’s Castle

Ok, so here’s the part you’ve been waiting for—your fairy tale connection. The Alcázar de Segovia served as inspiration for the castle in Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. In fact, Snow White’s wishing well stands on one of the castle’s patios.

We are standing by a wishing well

Make a wish into the well

That’s all you have to do

And if you hear it echoing

Your wish will soon come true

Snow White from Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

PRO TIP: Have a taxi driver take you to the “prettiest view in the city” for a postcard-worthy sight of the Alcázar de Segovia from below.

Segovia’s Gothic Cathedral

Segovia’s cathedral stands on Plaza Mayor, on the location where Isabella I was declared queen of Castile. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, its construction lasted from 1525 to 1577. It was the last gothic style cathedral built in Spain, and at the time it was built, it was the tallest building in Spain.

We had the fortune of seeing both the first and last gothic cathedrals built in Spain on the same day. You can read about our visit to the first gothic cathedral built in Ávila, Spain right here.

Roman Aqueduct of Segovia

Segovia’s Roman aqueduct stands austerely on Plaza del Azoguejo. It was built during the 1st century A.D. Today it can be found on Segovia’s coat of arms, a proud symbol of the city’s identity.

The Aqueduct of Segovia is one of the most well preserved Roman aqueducts in the world. Surprisingly, the nearly 25,000 granite blocks used to build the aqueduct are not held together by mortar, and yet it still stands today. Talk about built to last! Are you brave enough to stand underneath it?

Originally supplied by the Frio River located 11 miles outside of Segovia, the aqueduct runs partially underground. You can trace part of its underground path through the city following the brass markers imbedded in the cobblestone streets. The aqueduct reaches 93.5 feet at its tallest and contains a total of 167 arches.

Happily Ever After

We only spent a half day in Segovia, but quickly fell in love with the charming medieval town and would love to stay over night there next time. I know I’ve only scratched the surface of what Segovia has to offer here. Have you been to Segovia before? Tell me what your favorite part of this beautiful Spanish city was so I can make plans for next time!

For Further Reading

For more ideas on day trips from Madrid, check out my post about Ávila, or watch for an upcoming post about El Escorial. You can also follow me on Pinterest for more Spain travel ideas!

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Ronda, Spain: The Most Romantic City in the World

Ronda, Spain: The Most Romantic City in the World

Ronda, Spain, is the most romantic city in the world. A White Hill Town in Andalusia, it seemingly sits on the edge of the universe.

What Happened When We Got Lost in Ávila, Spain, and Why I Fell in Love with the City

What Happened When We Got Lost in Ávila, Spain, and Why I Fell in Love with the City

Lost in Ávila, Spain, we make good use of our time and explore a gothic cathedral, walk the medieval wall, and visit a stunning viewpoint.

Who the Heck was Antoni Gaudí and Why Do We Care?

Who the Heck was Antoni Gaudí and Why Do We Care?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small fee from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you, which helps me maintain this site. Thank you for supporting The Clever West Wind.

First of all, who was Antoni Gaudí?

Everyone who had been to Spain told me I had to go check out the work of Antoni Gaudí. But I wasn’t at all familiar with Gaudi or his work. So I started looking at endless pictures and blog posts.

But in our digital age where so much is immediately available at the swipe of a screen, I wasn’t all that impressed from what I saw in photos. And a picture can only convey so much. So that is what leads us to this post. Who the heck was Antoni Gaudí and why do we care?

Antoni Gaudí was born in 1852. He was sick a lot. And because he was always so sick and frail, he wasn’t allowed a normal childhood, playing and rough housing and participating in sports like normal boys. I guess all great artists have got to have a little bit of crazy tucked away somewhere. There’s his.

So instead of the normal boyhood activities, Gaudí observed things. He observed the world and nature around him, and he drew what he saw. Nature and God were two great inspirations reflected in all of his work, and it redefined architecture as we knew it. And then Gaudi died in June 1926, just shy of his 74th birthday.

Being there in Spain to see some of Gaudí’s work in person, I was converted. But before you go check out his work yourself, check out the Gaudí Exhibition.

The Gaudí Exhibition Center at the Museu Diocesa de Barcelona

I would make it a priority to stop by the Gaudí Exhibition first. The Gaudí Exhibition stands right next to the Cathedral of Barcelona in the Gothic quarter, or Barri Gotic. We spent maybe an hour and a half there as an audio guide led us through the museum.

We climbed up and down stairs to different exhibits, although there was an elevator if needed. There we learned about Gaudi’s life, inspirations, and innovations in his architecture. There were 3-D models providing an example of his work process, and short films.

The route through the museum ended in the gift shop with fun, bright souvenirs just waiting to go home with you. Ok, now that you’ve checked out the museum, let’s get on to the meat of the topic: Why we care about Gaudí and why you can’t miss his work while you’re in Barcelona.

Here are 3 big reasons why we care about Antoni Gaudí

Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia

1. La Sagrada Familia

Gaudí took over the construction and design of La Sagrada Familia in 1883 from Fransisco de Paula del Villar. Construction had just barely begun the year prior in 1882. I was amazed to learn that La Sagrada Familia was built so recently. I was under the impression that we were far beyond the age of constructing massive and beautiful cathedrals or other pieces of architecture such as this.

So construction was started in 1882, but finished…when exactly? Actually, La Sagrada Familia is still under construction! Slated for completion in 2026, our admission prices help cover continued construction on this masterpiece. You’ll notice the construction cranes in many photos. But don’t let that scare you off. La Sagrada Familia is breathtaking and cannot be missed, even unfinished.

Built in the Modernista style, La Sagrada Familia has a surreal feel to it. Like the logic of a dream, Gaudí followed his own rules. At times I felt like the sunlight filtering through the stained glass windows played upon the rippled ceiling like reflections on water. Other times I felt like I was gazing up at a canopy of trees or at the cordae tendinae of some great giant’s heart. Gaudí definitely met his aim in imitating nature.

A Few Things You Should Know Before You Go

1. Book tickets ahead of time. Booking tickets is a must – you may not get in otherwise.

2. Include the Tower Tour and Audio Guide in your ticket purchase. There are two towers currently complete and open to the public – the Nativity Tower and the Passion Tower. We viewed the Nativity Tower and it was beautiful. I hope to check out the Passion Tower next visit.

3. Book tickets close to sunset. We took another blogger’s suggestion and booked our tickets close to sunset. We did not regret this – the sun coming in through the stained glass windows was unforgettable.

4. Show up early. I cannot stress this one enough! If you book your tower tickets close to sunset, I would be sure to show up early for extra time to view the rest of the cathedral. The cathedral closes to the public not long after the last tower tour is offered. I would plan on spending at least a couple hours here. Trust me, you’ll want the time.

Park Guell

2. Park Güell

Park Güell sits on a hill overlooking the city of Barcelona. Designed by Gaudí, it was originally intended to be an upscale, exclusive neighborhood, but was never completed or used for its intended purpose. Construction lasted from 1900 to 1914, at which time construction was interrupted by World War I. Park Güell first opened as a public park in 1926.

I was surprised to discover that Park Güell is quite large. There are two sections – one with free entry, the other with paid entry. Of course, the part you pay entry for is the part that’s most well known from postcards and pictures. For example, the iconic Gaudi lizard is located in the paid-entry section of Park Guell. And again, if you are planning on visiting the paid-entry section of the park, be sure you book tickets at least a few days in advance.

We ended up not visiting the paid-entry section of Park Guell this time. But if you decide not to visit the paid-entry section as well, I wouldn’t write the park off altogether. I can tell you the rest of the architecture and art in the park is absolutely impressive, beautiful, and every bit of it is worth your time.

Casa Mila aka La Pedrera

3. Casa Milà or “La Pedrera”

Casa Milà, or “La Pedrera,” is located in the Passeig de Gracie, or “passage of grace,” which is an avenue in the Eixample district of Barcelona. Another design by Antoni Gaudi, it’s construction lasted from 1906 to 1912. It was built to be the private residence of Pere Mila (hence it’s name) and his wife Roser Segimon.

Casa Mila was nicknamed “La Pedrera” by the people Barcelona, which means the rock quarry. The building reminded the people of a pile of rocks. I suppose I can see that. But my initial impression of Casa Milà was that its undulating form belonged under sea in Disney’s Little Mermaid, perfect for a city near the ocean. It wasn’t until after Antoni Gaudi’s death that Barcelona started to love La Pedrera and feel proud to claim it as an icon of their city.

You’ll also find other Modernista buildings in the Passeig de Gracie, such as Casa Batllo, also designed by Gaudi, and Casa Amatller, designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch. For an entrance fee, you can take a roof top tour of Casa Mila and many other of these beautiful Modernista buildings.

I hope this clears up your questions about who Antoni Gaudi was and why he’s such a big deal. I would love to hear your own impressions of Gaudi’s work. What does his work make you think of? And what was your favorite of his constructions and designs to visit and why?

Here’s some more reading material if you’re looking for more ideas on what to do in Barcelona, Spain. Or you can read this if you’re traveling Spain on a budget and looking for free things to do in Barcelona.

7 Free Things to do in Barcelona

7 Free Things to do in Barcelona

Traveling can get expensive fast. One of the number one reasons I hear people list for not traveling is the cost. I get it. But travel really doesn’t have to be something so far out of reach. For those of you who are traveling Spain 

15 Things to do in Barcelona, Spain

15 Things to do in Barcelona, Spain

We landed in Barcelona after our long Amsterdam layover. We started and ended our Spanish adventure in Barcelona. I immediately loved the city. But at first I couldn’t tell if I actually loved the city, or if I just loved being on vacation. After seeing