Out of Madrid and into
nearby historic regions...
Toledo's Alcazar and Roman Bridge
We did two short day trips from Madrid on
Sunday and Monday, each
about 50 miles, to see Toledo and Segovia. Toledo
offered history, good museums and a cathedral while
Segovia offered an alcazar, Gothic cathedral and a
spectacular functioning Roman Aqueduct. We used our
Iberian rail passes for travel, but both trips had train
Sunday, August 24th - Toledo
We took the metro in the
morning from our hotel to Madrid's Atocha station (atrium,
first picture below) and headed southwest 43 miles to Toledo.
The train unexplainably stopped in Algodor, 15 miles from
Toledo, and we were herded onto buses for the rest of the
trip. From Toledo's train station, we took a taxi up the hill
to El Greco's museum, which was well hidden, but worthwhile
(second and third pictures below). Across the street, Museo Victorio Macho
overlooks the Tajo River gorge (fourth picture below).
Plaza Azoguejo at the Roman Aqueduct
We walked up the hill to
Santo Tome', which houses El Greco's "Burial of
the Count of Orgaz" (first picture below - more explanation on
the art page). Toledo's cathedral had
strange hours, but at least kept to them (unlike Seville's).
The second and third pictures below show an exterior and
interior shot. From the cathedral, we walked to Plaza
Zocodover just inside the ancient walls (fourth picture below)
where we munched mazapans (a local sweet fruity pastry) and then
caught the #6 bus back to the train station. From just outside
the train station there was a good view of the alcazar (closed
for remodeling until 2005) and ancient city walls (large
picture, top of page left). Again we were herded onto buses to Algodor
to catch the train to Madrid, but this time the buses were
about 100F - the bus ride from hell. No signs, no explanations
and no one spoke any English at the train stations. We caught
the metro back to the hotel and had a
good dinner in the Spanish restaurant there. The best wine of
trip was there as well: La Rioja Alta, SA, Vino Ardanza '96 Reserva
Rioja, which goes for about $22 a bottle retail. We finished the day
with espresso's at Starbucks.
25th - Segovia
We metroed again in the late morning to
Madrid's Atocha station and headed 50 miles northwest to
Segovia, which at 3000 feet promised cooler temperatures. The
train ride there showed the changes of ecosystems going from
desert to pine forest. From the train station, we taxied up
the hill to the alcazar (first picture below) which offered
good aerial views from its tower of the desert plains (second
picture below) and the walled city (third picture below). From
the alcazar, we walked to the cathedral (fourth picture below)
which had a good collection of interior elements from the
flamboyant last phases of Gothic design.
From the cathedral, we
headed down the pedestrian street to the real prize in
Segovia, the 2000 year old Roman Aqueduct. It has 118 arches
and was built without any mortar. Stairs allow you to climb
right to the top. The exposed portion of the (still working)
aqueduct towers 100 feet above the
Plaza Azoguejo (large picture, top of page right and four
views below). We grabbed some snacks at a shop in the plaza
and taxied back to the train station.
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