The Old Town of Segovia

The Old Town of Segovia

Here we present our first itinerary of religious monuments in the city of Segovia. Join us and discover unique places in the old town that will not leave you indifferent.

We started in the Aqueduct

The Aqueduct, our starting point in the itineraries around the city, also has a direct relationship with the religious theme. In its central part on the Azoguejo there is a niche for each side; where you look to the West is placed an image of The Virgin, while the niche on the east side has been empty for years, when a deteriorated statue of San Sebastian withdrew from it. We walk on the steep Real street, the main artery of the city (in fact they form Cervantes Street, Juan Bravo Street, Corpus Plaza and Isabel la Católica Street), and soon we arrived at a very beautiful space with staircases and noble buildings, which popularly is called Square of the Sirens (for two sculptures that exist in it and that are not properly sirens), composed of the squares of Medina del Campo, with the statue of the comunero Juan Bravo, and in the upper part, the St. Martin's Square, next to the parish church of the same name, which has two beautiful doors, exterior and interior, on the west side, and very original iconographic capitals on the north wall; there is also a large atrium with good capitals on the south face; On its wall there are several tombstones that seem to correspond to burials.

Inside the temple we must admire a magnificent Reclining Christ, which is attributed to Gregorio Fernández, it seems that with good reason; a small but very valuable museum exhibits a magnificent Flemish triptych by Adrián Rembrandt, two reliquary busts of San Marcos and San Lorenzo, a beautiful carving of San Francisco de Asís, by Pedro de Mena, and other equally important paintings and images.

The Jewish quarter

A short distance from this temple we find the Plaza of Corpus Christi, where the church of the same name exists next to a Convent of Poor Clares; the temple was former Jewish Greater Synagogue. In a very recent date the work of recovery and restoration of arches, capitals and windows of the previous one has been completed. synagogue, which were largely destroyed by a fire at 1899.

The nuns of this convent carry out binding work on request.

Right at this point of the convent of Corpus Christi and the narrow alley called Jewish Quarter, you enter the old layout of the Jewish quarter, which today is included in the Network of Spanish Jewish Quarters "Caminos de Sefarad". Towards the middle of this street, a beautiful granite entrance gives access to different dependencies, including a Judería Educational Center; It is the house of the eminent Segoviano Andrés Laguna. It seems that part of the building also belonged to the Jewish convert Abraham Sennior. But if we continue along the Calle Real in its last stretch (Isabel la Católica), we immediately arrive at the Plaza Mayor. On our right, the church of san miguel, built long after the primitive was demolished, occupying the center of the square and in whose atrium was proclaimed queen Isabel the Catholic 13 December of 1474. From that first construction some sculptures are conserved that have been replaced by copies in the facade of the temple to better conserve them, and that are shown in the space of access by the street of the Cronista Lecea; they can be seen from the outside. Inside, of considerable dimensions, there is an artistic sepulcher of the Rueda and that of the illustrious Segoviano Andrés Laguna (1499-1559), scientist and humanist, doctor in the court of Carlos V and of the Popes Paul III and Julio II, author of the comments to the book "Materia Médica", by Dioscorides, and of the famous "Discourse of Europe".

The Cathedral

We cross the Plaza Mayor to visit the Cathedral, about which we will not go into much detail, because it can be visited with guides. However, to add to how much can be seen in the temple, it should be noted that, on the altar of the trascoro is the urn that preserves the remains of San Frutos, patron saint of the diocese of Segovia (traveling through the province there will be an opportunity to visit his hermitage next to the Hoces del río Duratón), and in the cloister, located at a certain height, an inscription that attests that the Jewish woman is buried there. she was thrown from the rocks, accused of adultery, and as she was entrusted to the virgin of Fuencisla, she arrived healthy on the ground; He converted to Catholicism and here he has his burial. In the current museum is the small tomb with the golden effigy and stewed infant Pedro, son of Enrique II, that fell to the pit from one of the windows of the Alcázar, in an oversight of his mistress who threw herself behind him into the void.

When we leave the Cathedral, we take the Calle del Marqués del Arco to the Gardens of La Merced (here there was a convent of Mercedarians, built on the remains of what was a Jewish minor synagogue) where, on our right, we find the convent of the Carmelite Mothers, which was founded by Santa Teresa de Jesús. The religious community today makes textile crafts for sale to the public.

Through the Jewish Quarter

From La Merced you can enter the old Jewish neighborhood through the streets of San Geroteo, where the old school of Jesuit Mothers, in whose interior there are remains of the Ibáñez synagogue, one of the five that existed in the city; Almuzara (name that comes from an oil mill or Almuzara), Refitolería (so called because it is the refitorio where the cathedral chapter gave meals to the poor) and Old Jewish Quarter; the latter leads to Door of San Andrés (one of the three that are conserved), in whose reduced interior a Interpretation Center of the Jewish District has been installed; from here, down a steep stairway you can descend to the Valley of the Clamores (stream covered years ago), through which you have access to Jewish cementary located in the place called The Pinarillo, where several tombs are preserved in the open sky and in caves.

In the Plaza de la Merced is the church of San Andrés, that conserve two works of Gregorio Fernandez and images of the missing convent of La Merced; a mercy of José de Ratés, a silver reliquary with a relic of the titular saint of the temple and three lamps of the primitive Crystal Factory of La Granja. The presbytery has the originality of being slightly off center from the central body of the building.

The District of the Canonjías

In front of the church, the narrow street of Adolfo de Sandoval (prolific Segovian novelist) leads to what was neighborhood of the Canonjías, residence of the canons of the primitive cathedral when it was located in what are now gardens of access to the Quarterdeck; the door of the cloister is conserved, that gave access to the enclosure and that is placed in the today called street of Velarde (the captain that, next to Daoíz, both originating from the school of Artillery of Segovia, defended the park of Artillery of Madrid before the Napoleonic invasion), which led us to the valley where, a few years ago, a statue of San Juan de la Cruz, work of the sculptor José María García Moro; a few meters below the path that bears the name of the saint, an iron cross is stuck in a rock in which an inscription says that it is generally believed that Saint John rested in this place when he went up to the city from the Convent of Fathers Carmelites founded by him.

The Episcopal Palace

Returning on our steps towards the St. Stephen's Square, we find in it the temple that gives it its name, with a small atrium next to which rises the slender and beautiful tower that, with its six bodies, is a singular example of the Romanesque. Occupying an entire side of the square is the building of the Episcopal palace.

In front of the door of the church is that of the Holy Trinity, with a Romanesque interior of great beauty; highlights a table with two angels holding the Holy Face, which some attribute to Ambrosio Benson and others to the "Master of Segovia."

On the street of San Agustín we look for a small garden next to which a staircase invites us to go down to the Plaza de Colmenares, name that receives from the first segoviano chronicler Diego de Colmenares, whose rest, according to the tradition, rest in a tomb in the interior of the church, of which he was parish priest, of Saint John of the Knights, located in the same square, next to the wall. It is a beautiful example of Romanesque, of great proportions in its interior, where there are two other burials that are said to be the tombs of the segovian captains Día Sanz and Fernán García, conquerors of Madrid. This temple was headquarters of the so-called noble lineages. The dwelling of the great ceramicist Daniel Zuloaga is housed on one of the naves, which acquired this ruined temple to turn it into his workshop, in which his nephew Ignacio Zuloaga also painted. Today, this dependency is a museum of the potter's works, among which there are several with religious motives.

We finish our route

On the street of Los Zuloaga we ascend again to San Agustín street, which we cross to take that of Joaquín Pérez Villanueva (Civil Governor of the province, 1946-1950) that leads us to the Romanesque church of San Sebastián; From here, on the right, we take the street of Licenciado Peralta (segovian military cult who defended the cause of Doña Juana, daughter of the Catholic Monarchs), where there is another convent, Franciscan Concepcionistas, whose community works the pastry for sale.

We arrived at the Seminario square, where we are going to finish this our first itinerary of religious tourism. There is the great granite façade of the old Conciliar Seminary, built by the Society of Jesus; it is said that at his inauguration he attended the one that would later be San Francisco de Borja.

The old conciliar Seminary incorporates a church of considerable dimensions, in which several images of remarkable value are preserved. The building is now converted into a center of spirituality and residence for assistants to seminars, meetings, spiritual exercises, etc. The offices and other dependencies of the Bishopric of Segovia have also just been installed here.

Some Important Characters

TERESA DE CEPEDA Y AHUMADA (1515-1582), the great mystic and doctor of the church, Santa Teresa de Jesús, was born in Ávila, although some historians tend to a nearby village. In her youth she was very fond of reading, especially of the lives of saints, and before reaching the 20 years she entered as a novice in the Carmelite Convent of La Encarnación de Ávila. Determined to return all its purity to the rule of Carmel, he began a series of activities, with frequent trips to found new convents, work in which he suffered setbacks, confrontations ... being in the convent of Salamanca, in 1574, affirms in his "Book of Foundations" that "being one day in prayer, I was told by our Lord that I was going to found Segovia", to which the 18 arrived in March of 1574 accompanied by some religious and who would later be Saint John of the Cross, which is said to have said the first mass in the new convent, founded under the invocation of San José del Carmen on the 19 day of March of the aforementioned year.

The Segovian chronicler Diego de Colmenares echoes this event in chapter XLV of his "Historia de Segovia". It seems that Santa Teresa returned to our city three more times, one of them months before her death, which occurred in Alba de Tormes in 1582. She was beatified at 1614, canonized at 1622 and declared a doctor of the church by Paul VI at 1970. It is also believed that during some of his stays in Segovia he wrote some pages of his work "Las Moradas".

FRANCISCO DE BORJA Y ARAGÓN was a Spanish nobleman, Marqués de Lombay and Duque de Gandía, who married Leonor de Castro, lady of the Empress Isabel, wife of Carlos I. In charge of transferring the body of the Empress, to his death, to Granada, upon discovering the The coffin and contemplation of the decomposed body vividly felt the detachment to all earthly things, a sensation that he had already experienced on occasion, so that when his wife died in 1546, he professed in the company of Jesus and had a close relationship with Saint Ignatius of Loyola; in 1551, being already doctor in Theology by the University of Gandía that he founded, he was ordained as a priest and renounced all his titles and privileges in favor of his firstborn. As General of the Society of Jesus he succeeded Father Lainez. He died in September of 1572.