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SEGOVIA

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V24, Page 583 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SEGOVIA, the capital of the Spanish province of Segovia; on the railway from Madrid to Valladolid and Zamora. Pop. (1900) 14,547. Segovia is built upon a narrow ridge of rock which rises in the valley of the Eresma, where this river is joined by its turbulent tributary the Clamores. It is an episcopal see in the archbishopric of Valladolid. Founded originally as a Roman pleasure resort, it became in the middle ages a great religious centre and seat of the Castilian court; it was surrounded by Alphonso VI. with the walls and towers which still give to it, even in their dilapidation, the air of a military stronghold. The streets are steep, irregular and narrow, and are lined with quaint old-fashioned houses, built for the most part of granite from the neighbouring Sierra Guadarrama. The place teems with records and monuments of the many vicissitudes of fortune and art through which it has passed, foremost among the latter being the ancient alcazar or citadel, the cathedral, the aqueduct of Trajan, and a notable array of churches and other ecclesiastical edifices. The alcazar is perched upon the western tip of the long tongue of rock upon which the city is built. Of the original medieval fortress but little remains save the noble facade—the building having been wantonly fired in 1862 by the students of the artillery school then domiciled within its walls, and all but destroyed. The work is Gotho-Moorish, with an admixture of Renaissance in the decoration. The 16th-century cathedral (1521-1577), the work of Juan Gil de. Ontaiion and his son Rodrigo, occupies the site of a former church of the 11th century, of which the present cloisters, rebuilt in 1524, formed part. It is a well-proportioned and delicate piece of Late Gothic—the latest of its kind in Spain—and contains some very fine stained glass. The most remarkable of the many other churches are those of La Vera Cruz (Knights Tem lar, Romanesque of the early 13th century), San Milian and San Juan (both Romanesque of second half of 13th century), El Parral (Gothic of early 16th century), and Corpus Christi, an ancient Jewish sanctuary and an interesting specimen of Moorish work. The towers and external cloistering, or corredores, of several of the later churches—especially those of San Esteban and San Martin—are fine. The great aqueduct, however, called El Puente del Diablo, usually ranks as the glory of Segovia, and is remarkable alike for its colossal proportions, its history, its picturesqueness, and the art with which it is put together. Erected or rebuilt, according to fairly trust-worthy tradition, in the time of the emperor Trajan (c. A.D. 53–117), and several times barely escaping destruction, it is now in perfect working order, bringing the waters of the Rio Frio down from the Sierra Fuenfria, to m. S. The bridge portion striding across the valley into the city is 847 yds. long, and consists of a double tier of superimposed arches, built of rough-hewn granite blocks, laid without lime or cement. (For illustration, see AQUEDUCT.) Segovia lost its ancient prosperity when it was taken and sacked by the French in 18o8. Since then, however, suburbs have sprung up on all sides, outside the walls. The woollen industry decayed, but its place was taken by dyeing, iron-founding, and manufactures of paper, flour, earthenware, and coarse porcelain. Segovia has a botanical garden, a museum and picture gallery, a savings bank, two public libraries, and -two remarkable collections of archives. Public education is provided by an institute, a dozen primary schools, a school for teachers, and schools of art and handicrafts. The royal artillery school of Spain is also established here.
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