El Escorial and Segovia. And snow!

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November 16th 2013
Published: June 22nd 2017
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Monasterio de El EscorioMonasterio de El EscorioMonasterio de El Escorio

Remarkable condition for its 400+ age. Built by Phillip II using New World gold for his campaign to bolster the Catholic Church and resist the Protestant Reformation. The Inquisition was alive and well here and the library contains thousands of books and manuscripts confiscated by the Inquisition.
Geo: 40.9494, -4.11921

Today a visit to two towns in the Sierra de Guadarrama, about 80km north west of Madrid.

El Escorial's main feature is a massive monastery/royal palace built by Phillip II in 1584. Nearly all Spanish monarchs from that time to the present are buried in the basilica, after their bodies spend 50 years in the Puridero (decaying place). We only looked at the outside, but the guide books indicate that many tourist treasures lie within.

About 10km from Escorial is the Valle de Los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen) basilica and monument, built in 1959 by Franco to commentate the 40,000 casualties of the Spanish Civil War who are buried there. The huge basilica (it's crypt is bigger than the one under St Peter's) is wholly excavated into a granite ridge and on the rocky outcrop summit is built a cross, 150m high and visible for miles. In 1975 Franco was buried in the church under a simple granite slab marked only "Francisco Franco", The back side of the hill contains the Benedictine monastery supporting the basilica.

Then onto Segovia, notable for its Aqueduct and the inspiration for Disney's fairy castle, Alcazar Segovia (Segovia Castle). It was cold, and we were delighted
Garden of the FriarsGarden of the FriarsGarden of the Friars

We were much impressed by the residual snow from the previous night's fall. Little did we know what was to come!
to experience a minor snow storm lasting about an hour. Luckily we were inside an Italian restaurant, joking with the Sicilian staff and enjoying free grappa (used as a rinse in my espresso demi-tasse), limoncello and biscotti. Carol, we asked for granita and they were very pleased we knew of it.

See pics and captions (persevere with the download, lots of pics here).

Additional photos below
Photos: 10, Displayed: 10


Valle de Los CaidosValle de Los Caidos
Valle de Los Caidos

The Civil War monument with the entrance to the underground basilica in the centre.
Looking down the valleyLooking down the valley
Looking down the valley

And, in response to requests from our readership, a pic of the Mini.

The monastery and grounds on the back side of the monument. Kids were having a great time snow-balling.
Segovia AqueductSegovia Aqueduct
Segovia Aqueduct

Built in the second half of the 1st© this is one of the two best surviving examples of Roman aqueducts. The other is the Pont du Gard in France, which doubles as a bridge. This one carries water from a river 15km to Segovia, and ends at the castle well. At its highest it is 28.5m and 5m wide at the top. In the city there are 167 arches. I could wax lyrical, but apart from Mike P I guess I'd lose your interest.
Snow stormSnow storm
Snow storm

Big, soft snowflakes that settled on tables and cars, but melted on contact with the ground. In the distance you can see the fairly radical bend in the aqueduct.
Segovia CastleSegovia Castle
Segovia Castle

The Arabs built a wooden fort here on Roman foundations. In the late 12th© Alphonso VII of Castille had the "modern" castle built, and it was extended by Phillip II (mentioned previously) in the late 16th©. It was here that Isabella I took refuge before being crowned Queen of Castille and Leon in 1474. We climbed 152 spiral steps to the top of the large, rectangular tower at the rear. Nothing compared to Helen's 600 stairs, but we were still puffing - it must have been the altitude!

A 16th© weapon that needed a crank to bend the steel bow. You can make out two "arrows" to the right of the bow. In the background is a copy of an old painting depicting a similar bow.
Impressive moatImpressive moat
Impressive moat

The castle survived 1,000 years without breach. Looking at this moat it's easy to imagine how.

17th November 2013

Looks so cold - burrrrrrr........ You look like you are having a fantastic time.

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