January 1, 2013

Alcázar of Segovia

The Alcázar of Segovia (literally, Segovia Castle) is a palace and a fortress of Spanish kings in the in the historic district of Segovia city, Spain. The castle is situated on a cliff, located at the confluence of the rivers Eresma and Klamores, near the Guadarrama mountains (part of the Cordillera Central). The Alcázar is one of the most distinctive castle-palaces in Spain by virtue of its shape – like the bow of a ship. It was originally built as a fortress but has served as a royal palace, a state prison, a Royal Artillery College and a military academy since then. The castle is one of the inspirations for Walt Disney's Cinderella Castle.
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The Alcázar of Segovia, like many fortifications in Spain, started off as an Arab fort, which itself was built on a Roman fort but little of that structure remains. The oldest testimony we have of the Alcázar is a document dating from the early days of the 12th century (1122), a short time after the town had been recaptured by Alfonso VI of León and Castile, which refers to the fortress as a hill-fort on the Eresma. A short time later, in a letter of 1155, it was already being referred to as "Alcázar". However, it is more than probable that the fortress had existed in earlier times, possibly since the Roman occupation, because granite blocks similar to those of the Aqueduct have been found in the course of recent excavations.

This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons.
Author: Frank K. from Anchorage, Alaska, USA  

Name: Alcázar of Segovia or 
Segovia Castle

Location: Segovia city
Province: Segovia

Autonomous community: Castile and León
Country: Spain

Type:  Hill castle
Start of construction: 1120

Condition: opened to the public
Website: www.alcazardesegovia.com
The shape and form of the Alcázar was not known until the reign of King Alfonso VIII (1155–1214), however early documentation mentioned a wooden stockade fence. It can be concluded that prior to Alfonso VIII's reign, it was no more than a wooden fort built over the old Roman foundations. Alfonso VIII and his wife, Eleanor of Plantagenet made this Alcázar their principal residence and much work was carried out to erect the beginnings of the stone fortification we see today. Undoubtedly, the gallery on the north side belongs to this period, consisting of a large hall (called the Great Hall) flanked on both sides by private rooms in the oriental style.
The Alcázar, throughout the Middle Ages, remained one of the favorite residences of the monarchs of the Kingdom of Castile and a key fortress in the defense of the kingdom. It was during this period a majority of the current building was constructed and the palace was extended on a large scale by the monarchs of the Trastámara dynasty. The monarchs of the Trastámara dynasty made use of the new gallery, parallel to the previous one, and converted it into a sumptuous series of halls in the style of the alcázares of Andalusia.

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In 1258, parts of the Alcázar had to be rebuilt by King Alfonso X of Castile. Alfonso X "The Wise" showed a special liking for Segovia and made the Alcázar into one of his favourite residences until the later days of his life, when the Parliament was held in this town which had remained loyal to him. However, the single largest contributor to the continuing construction of the Alcázar is King John II who built the 'New Tower' (John II tower as it is known today).
In the 14th century, Segovia bore witness to the struggle between different noble factions which the Alcázar did not escape; the new usage of artillery forced it to reinforce its walls and extend its defences.

This is a file from the www.flickr.com, Author: R.S. Antonio 
In 1474, the Alcázar played a major role in the rise of Queen Isabella I of Castile. On 12 December news of the King Henry IV's death in Madrid reached Segovia and Isabella immediately took refuge within the walls of this Alcázar where she received the support of Andres Cabrera and Segovia's council. She was crowned the next day as Queen of Castile and León.
The Alcázar was also important during the civil wars of all successive periods, from the reign of Juana the Mad and the war of the "Comunidades" to the War of the Spanish Succession in the 18th century and the Carlist wars in the 19th century. The monarchs of the Austrian dynasty frequently visited the castle.
The next major renovation at the Alcázar was conducted by King Philip II after his marriage to Anna of Austria here. This King had important alterations made in the Alcázar. He added the sharp slate spires to reflect the castles of central Europe. In 1587, architect Francisco de Morar completed the main garden and the School of Honor areas of the castle.
This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons, Author: Pelayo2, License 
Shortly, the royal court moved to Madrid and the Alcázar then served as a state prison, where several important people were confined. It remained like that until 1762 when King Charles III founded the Royal School of Artillery, and installed it in the Alcázar in 1764. The Royal School stayed here, except for short periods of time, until March 6, 1862, when a fire badly damaged the roofs and framework. From this date to the present the Royal School, later called the Artillery Academy, has been located in the convent of St. Francis in Segovia. 
It was only in 1882 that the building was slowly restored to its original state. In 1896, King Alfonso XIII ordered the Alcázar to be handed over to the Ministry of War as a military college.
In 1898, the General Military Archives were installed on the upper floor.
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In 1953, the "Patronato del Alcázar" (Alcázar Trust) of Segovia was created. When the Patronato was set up, they were entrusted with a plan of works that should enable: 
The Artillery Academy to make use of classrooms exceptionally to give lessons of high educational value, and to make use of the halls for social or cultural events to take place whenever the circumstances require it.
The General Military Archives to have installations large and efficient enough to keep their historic documents and files, as long as the building is home to the Archives.
The general public to enjoy a "Museum of the Alcázar of Segovia", which should be a registry of all those records that can be used to retain the memory of that "House" which has been a Royal Alcázar, Military Precinct and Royal School of Artillery either simultaneously or successively.
Today, the Alcázar remains one of the most popular historical sites in Spain and is one of the major attractions in Segovia (along with the aqueduct and the cathedral). Currently, in the Alcázar are open for viewing 11 screens and the highest tower - Tower of Juan II.

 This article is based mainly on the materials of websites: en.wikipedia.org and  www.alcazardesegovia.com


  1. This castle so amazing, I immediately dreamed of as a princess.

  2. Quite amazing to know this. Especially when you are a Segovia. I simply adore this, plus my father's name was Alex Alonso. So it means a lot more to me know. One day i will see it in person.

  3. This castle amazing! And I liked these too 50 Most Beautiful Castles Around The World.

    Quite amazing to know this. Especially when you are a Segovia. I simply adore this, plus my father's name was Alex Alonso. So it means a lot more to me know. One day i will see it in person.

    This castle so amazing, I immediately dreamed of as a princess.

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