The Alcazar of Segovia – The Castle Which Inspired Walt Disney (HQ Images & History)

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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 Guadarrama 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 to its distinctive ship shaped bow.

Segovia castle with its sharp spires were one of few that inspired Walt Disney to create the iconic fairytale castle look instantly recognized by kids and adults all over the world to this day.

Frequently Asked Questions

FOR HISTORY | BEAUTIFUL IMAGES | INTERESTING FACTS | TICKET PRICES

Early History of Segovia Palace

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.

Alcazar of Segovia in Current Times

In 1862 the castle’s roof and framework were badly damaged by fire when it served as a Royal Artillery School. It was only in 1882 when the Castle of Segovia was finally fixed and looked like it did before the accident. 20 years to restore the damage of such an impressive fortress is quite a while if you ask me. But I get it, military has better things to spend their money on I guess. Later that year, King Alfonso XIII finally decreed that the Alcazar of Segovia be handed over to the Ministry of War and for the time being it it was converted to a military college. Subsequently, in 1898 the General military archives were created on the uppermost 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.

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

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

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.

Visiting Alzacar de Segovia – Tips and Tricks

Planning to visit this monument? We have gathered helpful information that will make your planning and journey easier! Read it below to make sure you’re ready for the best experience instead of unexpected setbacks.

A group of four tourists taking picture in front of the Segovia castle on a cloudy day.
You will find many groups of friends like these taking pictures in front of the palace. Flickr photo by PabloBM shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license.

How to get to Alcazar of Segovia?

Fortunately, it is located very conveniently, only about 60 miles (100 kilometers) from Madrid, the capital of Spain, and is easily accessible by multiple means of transportation.

Visiting by Vehicle

If you are renting a car during your visit in Spain, it’s a no brainer to use it for the trip, especially if you want to visit other nearby places while having full flexibility of your time. It will take you around 1 hour and a half to reach the fortress by vehicle from Madrid.

Travelling by Train

If you don’t have a car, traveling by train is most probably your best bet. It is very fast and it only takes around 30 minutes to reach the city of Segovia. You can depart from Madrid’s Chamartín train station and arrive at Guiomar AVE station, from which you will need to take a bus or a guided tour to reach the actual castle since the train station is located outside the city of Segovia.

  • AVE Trains run every hour seven days a week from Madrid to Segovia
  • One-way ticket costs for an adult (26-59) vary from 14 to 24 euros (from $18 to $32 USD) depending on the time of the day.
  • Approximate journey time: half an hour.

Visiting by Bus

Probably least convenient but still effective way to the castle is by bus. It is cheaper than the train, however, it will take you around 1 hour and 30 minutes to get there. At the time of writing a one-way ticket for an adult costs around 4 euros (5 USD). You should start your journey at Moncloa station (look at the map below) to catch your bus.

  • Multiple buses run seven days a week from early morning.
  • One-way ticket price: 4 euros (5 US dollars).
  • Approximate journey time: 1 hr 30 mins.
Moncloa Bus Station on a map:

Ticket Prices, Visiting Hours & Travel Tips

The tickets have many options from full entry to partial access. The most expensive ticket with full access to various parts of the monument is priced at 9 euros ($10 US dollars). Other tickets include various exceptions and reduced-price rates with limited access. For instance, if you’d like to climb 152 steps to the Tower of Juan II you’d have to buy a full access ticket, otherwise, the tower is excluded from other ticket options. Your best bet is to visit the official website and see the ever-changing options and prices for yourself.

Summer season hours (from April 1st to October 31) of operation are from 10 am to 8 pm, and in the winter (from November 1st to March 31) the hours are from 10 am to 6 pm.

Typically, you should allow at least 1 to 2 hours to explore the palace in full and visit the main areas: the rooms, the Artillery Museum, and the Tower of Juan II, if of course, you are capable of walking up the spiral staircase. It would be wise to buy a guided tour around the fortress which lasts around 45 minutes and costs 40 euros ($48 USD) at the time of writing or at least grab a pair of headphones and order an audio guide for a mere 3 euros ($4 USD).

Alcazar of Segovia at the night time shot from below. The castle and the granite hill it stands on are beautifully enlightened.
Alcazar of Segovia at the night time. Philippe.morange, CC BY-SA 3.0 ES, via Wikimedia Commons

Some words of advice and tips: 

  • Make sure your footwear is comfortable as you will have to cover quite some steps on the trip day, especially, if you are looking to explore the city of Segovia and not only the palace.
  • One reviewer on Tripadvisors suggests visiting the castle two times – one in a day time and the second one at night. If the weather is good, the night scenery of the castle is simply majestic.
  • Instead of aiming only for the Alzacar de Segovia, plan further and add other monuments to your list. The city of Segovia has a lot to offer besides the fortress. We suggest taking a look at some full-day sightseeing tours of Segovia on Tripadvisor.

Quick Video Tour of The Main Castle Areas

A short overview of what you can expect to see inside and outside the fortress during your journey.

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