The Convent of Santo Domingo el Real

It is, without a doubt, one of the most ancient civil buildings in the town of Segovia, and a great number of historians have shown keen interest in it. It is no other than the Convent of Santo Domingo el Real, located right in the town centre opposite the Romanesque church of the Trinidad.

The building belongs to the order founded by Saint Domingo de Guzman. This famous clergyman used to pray, when he was in Segovia, in a cave close to the Eresma River where the Santa Cruz convent would be later built (we already wrote about this one). Concerning the feminine branch of the order it looks like implementation in Segovia was quite early relating to privileges granted to the order by several kings, renewed from one to the next and that would start originally in the 14th century according to Professor Antonio Ruiz Hernando.

It looks like this construction was, at the time it was purchased by the Dominican nuns, the property of local authority Juan Arias de la Hoz. From the start the property, basically the Tower of Hercules and the old palace, was too small and so it became necessary to purchase several adjacent buildings. The construction is basically made with mason stone with 8 metres  high walls with some interesting slit-arrow, living proof of the defensive purposes the fortress-house fulfilled some centuries ago. Entrance to the church is done with limestone block and we can still see half a Romanesque arch later absorbed by a more modern construction.

Another unusual construction belonging to the ensemble is the Tower of Hercules, also unusual the statue inside, away from the public eyes. It was described in the 17th century by local writer Diego de Colmenares, probably telling the story from the words of a nun. The statue shows a man riding a pig or a wild boar. This human figure has always been portrayed as Egyptian Hercules, allegedly the founder of the town and always according to the legend. However, this legend was considered by all to be outright true for many years, including some prestigious local writers, such as Colmenares himself.

Finally it is worth mentioning the paintings in the second floor of the palace, very similar to the ones we can see at the Alcazar, done in white and a burgundy shade of colour by mudejar artists around the 12th – 13th century in Romanesque-Mudejar style; these are considered an artistic treasure of great importance.

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