“Segovia en estampas. Estampas de Segovia”.

The exhibition “Segovia en estampas.  Estampas de Segovia” starts today, the 18th of January at 8 pm in the Salas del Palacio at the Torreon de Lozoya.

It contains over 140 pictures of both the town and the province spanning from the 16th to the 19th century. The exhibition is sponsored by the Fundacion Caja Segovia together with the Diputacion Provincial de Segovia.

Yet another similar exhibition called “Imágenes de Segovia en las Artes de la Estampa” already took place in 2004, also held in the same lounge; it brought to light an important part of the collection belonging to Caja Segovia. The one launched today shows, as well as some pieces displayed at that time, another works never shown before in our town. These artistic draws, both pictures and books, shed light on visions of monuments, some of them no longer in place, works on the Aqueduct and the Cathedral of Segovia and the famous castle of Coca, amongst others, urban and rural landscaping by artists like David Roberts, Genaro Pérez Villaamil, Gustavo Doré o Vicente López. Until the 1st of May at the Torreon de Lozoya. More info at www.fundacioncajasegovia.es

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What to do in Segovia this long Bank Holiday weekend?

We do know that quite a few of you will be spending this huge Bank Holiday weekend in Segovia. We are actually sold out for the 7th, 8th and 9th of December and we are glad you don’t fear the cold weather. Besides coming to our tours we have some suggestions for you spare time, this is two different markets you should pay a visit to.

One of them is the Christmas Market starting today until the 9th at the Torreon de Lozoya, organised by the Spanish Association Against Cancer right in the town centre, at Saint Martin’s Square. The other one is the Mercado del Marquesado in the Colegio de Arquitectos (calle Marqués del Arco número 5), an open space for designers and artisans to find many special ideas for gifts or simply to have a wander round.

 

MUCES 2017

The European Film Festival MUCES will be held in Segovia from the 15th to the 21st of November. This year we would recommend the “Filmed in Segovia” section. For more info, please see the following link: http://www.muces.es/index.php

Halloween night

Tomorrow night, at midnight, we will celebrate Halloween. This is a very short-lived tradition in Spain since we used to have our very All Souls Night. It is a very special night, full of mystery and magic, where the souls of the dead come back to spend a short time with the living. Everybody celebrates Halloween these days and there are so many different parties where people dress up, but if you want to live a terrifying Halloween night book a tour tomorrow night from eight pm with Sonia and the girls of Escuela Habla to hear, first hand, all those legends and ghost stories. It will surely be dead terrific!!

Segovia and the Saint Patron

On the 25th of the current we shall be celebrating our Saint Patron festivity. His name is Saint Frutos (yes, like the fruits you eat) and, just like every other year, the miracle will take place and the saint will turn yet another page of his Book of the Apocalypse that gets us nearer the end of days every year.

Regardless whether or not you are a pious human being, the night of Saint Frutos is a fantastic opportunity to fill yourself with the local spirit and folk and also to have a few drinks with your friends and relatives. Just after midnight, locals will start to clear off the Main Square on their way home with a grin in their faces and perhaps feeling a little tipsy.

We will come back next week to talk about Spanish Halloween; if you want to get to know about local ghosts and legends, do not miss the opportunity to join the last Legends of Segovia tour this 2017on the 31st of October!

Illustration of Saint Frutos by Mónica Carretero.

Sports Museum. Until the 29th of October.

Segovia is ideal to do sports; actually a lot of locals as well as visitors can be spotted jogging, skating and cycling around the green belt surrounding the Old Town. Every time you take a stroll up the calle Real you are doing sport although you do not realise you are… Our splendid winner of the 1988 edition of the Tour de France started his career in this his hometown Segovia. This, along with a thousand more stories, is the reason why you cannot miss the exhibition about sports at the Torreon de Lozoya, Plaza de San Martín s/n. Tickets are free with a controlled access.

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.

The (correct) dating of the aqueduct

The Roman aqueduct of Segovia is the town’s main tourist attraction. At the same time its whole construction remain a mystery for there are no documents from the era related to these works, so that basically everything we know about it is through archaeological findings. Please find below the link to a piece of recent information in the English edition of El País written by Aurelio Martin and based upon the findings made by Santiago Martinez Caballero, archaeologist and Director of the Local Museum, which tell us about the definite time of construction, after years of speculation. Enjoy!

http://elpais.com/elpais/2016/11/01/inenglish/1477997248_304960.html

 

Who was Henry the 4th of Castile? Part two

We continue where we left it last week; if you remember we did mention that history is always told by its winners and therefore many of the chronicles and badinages about the king’s impotence were written after his death. Recent findings tell us that he suffered from various illnesses and that it is more than likely that he could not have children as a consequence of those.

The reputed doctor Gregorio Marañon studied the king’s remains and wrote an essay about all the conditions King Henry suffered from: “impotence, penis abnormality and infertility, a malformation in his genitals, flank sickness and blood in his urine”. He also wrote about his appearance: “a broad forehead, his hands were out of proportion (hence the King never allowed people to touch or kiss his hands, at the time this led people to the wrong idea that the king was being rude), long and strong fingers”.

Gathering all this information we still do not know exactly if all this stories are true or not, what historians know for sure is that Henry the 4th has gone down in Spanish history as one of the worst-treated; this is due to a number of reasons of which we point out two.

The first one is that, although he was a child with poor health, he had an excellent education which made him a man very fond of music and art, as well as hunting and hawking. A monarch he was with an extraordinary sensitivity towards his peers and subjects; his eccentric personality led him to keep a zoo with exotic animals in his Valsain palace, up the Guadarrama mountain range. The second is that his half-sister, Isabella, the Catholic Queen, tried her best to void her brother’s reignfrom historyand succeeded to a point; of all she could not do, her chroniclers made a really big effort to make up stories and twist past events in order to give birth to a black legend of which probably little resembles true events.

Next week we will tell you about the buildings and stories in Segovia from his reign. Have a fantastic week!

Who was Henry the 4th of Castile?

This monarch, son of John the 2nd of Castile and Maria de Aragon, was born in 1425 in Valladolid and died on the 11th of December 1474 in Madrid. He was the famous Catholic Queen Isabella’s half-brother and his life was controversial in all of its aspects.

The chronicles and stories about his difficulties to have children, his conflicts with the nobles and even his very personal relationships with his favourites are widely known. But what part of this is real and what has been made up by his enemies? We may never get to know where to draw the line between reality and fiction, as history is always told by those who came out triumphant of all conflicts; however, there are some recent findings which try to shed some light into his black legend and more precisely into his impotence.

This difficult matter started off after his first marriage with Blanca the 2nd of Navarra. He was married to her for 13 years. As time went by and the couple were unable to produce an heir to the throne, rumours started to spread across the country about the king’s inability to copulate. Henry the 4th tried to solve his problems by using quite a few ointments, he even contacted some Italian doctors who prescribed him a series of sexual exercises and yet, the heir would not arrive. As a consequence, Blanca and Henry’s marriage was dissolved. His second marriage, to Jane of Portugal, finally brought the so much sought after heir, the first and only child of Henry, Princess Jane “la Beltraneja”. Why was she nicknamed so? The rumours about the king’s impotence had already reached far and beyond the kingdom, and so his enemies saw the opportunity to concoct a plot against him; the story about how Princess Jane was not the king’s daughter but the King and Queen’s favourite’s Beltran de la Cueva, a handsome twenty year old counsellor, was unfurled.

At the time of Henry the 4th ‘s death, the Castilian crown belonged by birth right to his daughter, Princess Jane, but Isabella was a determined woman and she took advantage of those rumours to openly question the legitimacy of her niece to be the heir to the throne as she expressed her doubts on the princess’ paternity. After a long and crude civil war in Castile between Jane and Isabella, the latter came out victorious and proclaimed herself Queen of Castile.

We will continue this story next week, have a nice one!