Thursday, December 16, 2010

My Obsession With Castles

Alcazar de Segovia

The Alcazar de Segovia is located in the old city of Segovia, Spain.  Although originally built as a stone fortress and fortification, it has served as a state prison, a royal palace, a Royal Artillery college and a military academy. Today, it serves as one of the most popular tourist destinations and historial hotspots in Spain .   Due to its location and presence, it remains one of the most notable and distinctive castles in Spain to this day.

The Alcazar de Segovia, like many of its predecessors and other historical fortifications, began as an Arab fort, but little of the original structure actually remains.   When it was first built remains uncertain, but early mention of this Alcazar appears around 1120 when Segovia returned to Christian hands.  Archaeological evidence does suggest the Alcazar de Segovia may have been around even during early Roman times as a fortication, further substantianted by the presence of a famous Roman aqueduct in the Segovia area.  

The Alcazar de Segovia became one of the favourite residences of the royal family of Castile and played an important part in their defense systems. King Alfonso X build the Hall of Kings to house Parliament (see picture of Throne Room). King John II built the famous New Tower. Queen Isabella even took refuge in this castle after King Henry IV's death until she was able to be crowned Queen of Castle and Leon.  Interestingly, it was also the site where she married Ferdinand II.  

Throne Room

When the royal court decided to move to Madrid, the Alcazar became a state prison for almost two hundred years and housed some very famous prisoners.  When King Charles III was crowned he turned Alcazar into a Royal Artillery School, a function that served for over one hundred years.  Unfortunately, Alcazar was badly destroyed by fire in 1862 and has to be abandoned.  King Alfonse XIII, almost twenty years later, decided to invest in Alcazar again, and set upon a restoration project, beliving Alcazar could be used as a military college. 

Today, Alcazar de Segovia continues to serve as a famous historical attraction.  I can't wait to visit Segovia when I go to Spain in March.



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