Every impressive castle has an impressive history, and the Alcázar of Segovia is no exception. People are tired of hearing that, from a certain perspective, it looks like a stranded ship, so we are going to say it now, and we take it out of the way: the fortress looks like a stranded ship.
A city with an aqueduct like the one in Segovia wouldn’t be in need of another symbol, but the fact is that it has it. It all started, precisely, with a few thousand stones that the Romans must have left over from their famous work of engineering. It seems that with them, they built a fortress in this place, and as we all know when it comes to fortresses, they took advantage of what was left behind to make a better one.
So, also the Arabs, and then the Christians had a superb castle in here to which the final touches were given during the second half of the sixteenth century, that is when Philip II held the world in the palm of his hand.
By then, these thick walls had already been home to kings and had seen many things: in the thirteenth century, Alfonso X came up here to question the perfection of God’s creation, saying that the results would have been better if God had consulted him. The legend says that a bolt of lightning immediately fell on one of the towers, which collapsed resoundingly and made the good Alfonso run away as fast as he could to confess his sin of pride.
In 1474, Isabella the Catholic was proclaimed Queen of Castilla in what was already more a sumptuous palace than a defensive fortress, and which almost fifty years later it would again be the main stage, this time, of the bloody Revolt of the Comuneros.
The loyal to the young Charles V resisted in the fortress, while the rebels destroyed the old Cathedral because it was on their way in their attempt to take the fortification. They did not succeed, although the siege lasted months of cannon fire, rains of arrows and dead bodies piled up on both sides. There were also brief exits of the besieged to the field, from the back and not to run away, but to get their hands on some cattle to bring inside the walls to be able to hold a little longer.
The coin ended up falling on the side of Charles, a twenty-year-old who couldn’t wait to say that he spoke in Italian with the ambassadors, in French with the women, in German with the soldiers, in English with the horses and in Spanish with God.
The museum that is currently in the Alcázar tells you stories like these, and others related to the Army Artillery Corps. But once you are inside, take the opportunity to see the Throne Room, the Armoury, the Tower of John II, the Hall of the Kings and all the different chambers of one of those places crammed with striking shadows of the past.