A history of Segovia cathedral


The city of Segovia is part of the autonomous community of Castile and León, found about 100 km north of Madrid. Occupied by the Romans, the Visigoths, the Celts and abandoned during the Arab conquest of the peninsula, it was later controlled by the Muslims for more than 6 centuries.

It was repopulated after the reconquest of Spain by the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella. A Celtic fort used to stand where today’s Alcazar is located, an example of the city’s different architectural influences.

One of Segovia’s endearing features is its cathedral, which, due to its size and beauty, is known as the “La Dama de las Catedrales” (The Lady of all Cathedrals).  Its construction began in 1525 and it was finished as recently as the start of the 17th century. It was one of the last Gothic cathedrals to be built.

But what many people don’t know is that there was another cathedral in Segovia before it, the cathedral of Santa María. This was destroyed by a fire 5 years before the current cathedral’s construction began. You can visit the current cathedral with the World Experience tour that covers three of Spain’s historic cities.

The cause of the fire was an armed uprising in Castile, in which the cathedral played an important part. It was Charles I King of Spain who ordered the construction of the new cathedral.

Facts about Segovia’s cathedral

It has three main entrances. The first of which is named after the first bishop of the Diocese of Segovia, San Geroteo, and is found on the south side of the building.

The San Frutos door is the main entrance to the cathedral and pay homage to the city’s patron saint, Saint Fructus.  Finally, the El Perdón, or Santa María door, is found on the cathedral’s main facade, facing west. There are two smaller doors either side, and a sculpture of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception is integrated into it.

Segovia’s Aqueduct

The city is not just known for its cathedral, but also for housing one of the best-preserved Roman aqueducts in the world, and without doubt the biggest on the Iberian Peninsula.

The etymological origin of the word aqueduct comes from Latin and is comprised of the Latin word aqua (water) and ducere (to lead). The construction itself has no less than 167 arches, 120 pillars and measure 30 metres high.

It is thought that it was built between the end of the first century and the beginning of the second century, although this cannot be proved as the inscription that the Romans generally used to leave on their aqueducts has not been found.

Investigators believe that its construction began whilst Rome was under the control of Emperor Hadrian. The water it transports come from the Fuenfría natural spring, about 17 km from the city.

You can see the aqueduct from the hot-air balloon tour of Segovia with World Experience.