The Alcazar de Segovia or the Castle of Segovia is a stone fortress located in the old city of Segovia, Spain. It is a unique fortification located at the confluence of the Clamores and Esrema rivers near the Guadaramma Mountains.

The fact that it was built on top of granite rock and is located in its geographical position is a testament to its initial military status. Indeed the name Alcazar is a term from the Arabic language that means palace or royal residence. Alcazar of Segovia, therefore, translates to a palace or a royal residence of Segovia. The fort hover has constantly changed residents from being used originally as a fortress, later to be used as a royal palace, seat of parliament, state prison, Artillery College and Military Academy. It is one of the most well-known palace-castles in Spain especially due its distinctive bow of a ship shape.

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Early History

Like many castles in Spain, the Alcazar of Segovia started as a wooden Arab fort built over Roman foundations. After its capture by Emperor Alphonso VI in 1120, the work started in order to make it the stone fortress as it is today. The first phase was subsequently concluded during the reign of Alphonse VII who made it his permanent residence.

Photograph of the Alcázar de Segovia after the fire of March 6, 1862, which destroyed all its roofs. The Alcázar remained in ruins until its reconstruction in 1898. “El Alcázar tras el incendio (Segovia, 1” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Recuerdos de Pandora

Over the years the palace became the seat of the royals of the Castile Kingdom and the Transtamara dynasty. In the 13th century, additions were made by Spanish architects working for Henry IV and John II to give it a Gothic air.

The last architectural phase happened in 1587 and was executed by architect Fransisco de Morar in conjunction with Juan de Herera. They added the Escuelo de Honor building, royal courtyard and the sharp spires we see today.

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Current Times

In 1862 the castle’s roof and framework were badly damaged when it served as an Artillery College. It was only in 1882, when the Castle of Segovia was finally restored to its original status. Alphonce XI finally decreed that the Alcazar of Segovia be handed over to the Ministry of War as a military institution. Subsequently, in 1898 the General military archives were created on the upper most floor.

The majestic Alcazar de Segovia. Frank K. from Anchorage, Alaska, USA [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Close-up of the castle. Christof1887 at the English language Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Finally in 1953, the “Patronato del Alcázar” or Alcázar Trust of Segovia was entrusted with ensuring that the fortress facilities were exclusively utilized for military studies as well as opening the facility to the general public.

Picturesque view of the castle from a distance. (CC BY 2.0) by Luis Antonio Fernández Corral

Today the Castle of Segovia is one of the most famous monuments in the city of Segovia as well as the whole of Spain.

Interesting Facts About Alcazar de Segovia

  • The fort with its sharp spires was one of the castles that inspired the Walt Disney castles that can be found around the world as well as seen in their movies.
  • It has secret passages that connect to the adjacent rivers.
  • In 1474 Isabella was crowned here as the Queen of Castle and Leon.
  • A fire destroyed part of it in 1862.
  • It is built on top of granite rock.

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