The Alcázar of Segovia – one of Spain’s most beautiful castles
The Alcázar of Segovia (ie. Fortress of Segovia) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the highlights of Segovia. It is one of Spain’s most impressive castles and, interestingly enough, it is also one of the castles* that inspired the design of Cinderella’s Castle at Walt Disney World.
* Everyone likes to argue over this. It’s said however that Walt Disney was inspired by both The Alcázar of Segovia and Germany’s Neushwanstein Castle. See here.
The History of the Alcázar of Segovia
The castle is on a rocky perch that looks out over the countryside in all directions. It is a perfect location for defensive fortifications and has been used over history by the Romans, Moors, and then the Christians after the reconquesta.
The current castle was built in the mid-1400’s by the monarchs of Castile, becoming their primary residence. It served not only as a fortress but also as a royal palace. It had a major role in the rise of Queen Isabella I who was crowned here as Queen of Castile and León. Isabella and Ferdinand II of Aragon are known for being the first monarchs to be referred to as “Queen of Spain” and “King of Spain” because of their part in reconquering Spain from the Moors.
Later, the Alcazar served as a prison (from the mid-1500’s to mid-1700’s) and a Royal Artillery School (mid-1700’s to 1862 when parts of the castle burned in a fire). In 1896 the Alcazar served as a military college. Today part of the castle serves as a military museum.
Highlights of the Alcázar of Segovia
The Alcázar is incredible. Entering the castle requires crossing a drawbridge over a precipitous moat. Looming high above are huge turrets (you can buy a ticket to go up there. The views are great).
The “keep”, the fortified towers that are so prominent when looking at the Alcázar head on, are deceivingly narrow and almost like a façade to what lies beyond. When you step through into the castle you end up in a large courtyard and looking back at the keep.
In my opinion the highlight of the Alcázar are the halls and rooms (I counted 9) which are lavishly decorated. All have a mix of Christian and Mudéjar (Moorish) aspects including azulejos, carved arches and incredibly decorated ceilings (the ceilings are among the most impressive we have seen). The Sala de los Reyes (The Hall of the Kings) stands out, a room depicting sculptures of the 52 kings who’ve ruled here.
More images from inside the Alcázar
Continuing through the castle you find yourself in the Armory which highlights various weapons and armour from the ages. From there you step outside at the back end of the castle on the Patio del Pozo where there are great views looking straight down the walls and cliffs on which the Alcázar is situated.
There is the previously mentioned military museum which includes a lot of weapons, maps and depictions of battles. You can also take the steps up to the top of the keep for great views of Segovia (note: you have to buy a separate ticket for that and it is by appointment and with a group).
More: Visiting magical Segovia
Make sure to visit the Alcazar when visiting Segovia