Hotel Report Card: Infanta Isabel, Segovia, Spain

Hotel Infanta Isabel, Segovia Spain, Exterior

Hotel Infanta Isabel
Plaza Mayor 12, 40001 Segovia
tel. 921-461-300 fax: 921-462-217
29 rooms. Singles: €77 Doubles: €105 All major credit cards accepted.

My favorite choice for Segovia, the Infanta Isabel is brimming with 19th century glamor and class. The rates shown above are for busy times, especially weekends and holidays. Weekday rates can be as much as a third lower, making this hotel a real bargain. Located directly on the Plaza Mayor, many of the rooms have small balconies overlooking the cathedral and the square.

Hotel Infanta Isabel, Segovia Spain, Room 302

Overall: A
Location: A+
Ambiance: B+
Cleanliness: B+
Maintenance: B
Staff: A


Lazy days in Segovia, Spain

View of Segovia, Spain

I started my first trip of the year with three nights in Segovia, Spain. Segovia is a small provincial town, located about an hour's drive northwest of Madrid. Not only is it within easy reach of Madrid's Barajas International Airport, there are at least five reasons why it's one of my favorite towns in Spain:

  • a small town atmosphere and pace
  • good hotels
  • good restaurants
  • great sights
  • a noticeable lack of tourists

Any one of these could be reason enough to begin or end your trip to Spain in Segovia.

Roman Aqueduct at Segovia, Spain

The advantages of the town's location -- on a steep, rocky ridge high above the confluence of two rivers -- was already recognized in pre-historic times, but its recorded history starts with the Romans around the 3rd century BC. They built a military fortress on the tip of the ridge. Sometime in the first century AD, with Spain firmly in the grip of the Roman Empire, a town grew. Towns need a steady, secure source of water, and for the Romans that meant building a reservoir in the mountains and then channeling that water to the city through an aqueduct.

Roman Aqueduct at Segovia, Spain

The total length of the aqueduct was over ten miles. Right at the edge of town it has to bridge a small valley. This section, easily the most stunning sight in town, is over 2000 feet long, and more than 100 feet high. The stones, perfectly cut and fitted, do not have mortar, pins or anything else holding them together. Gravity has been doing the job nicely for almost 2000 years. The soaring arches and impossibly slender line make it one of the most graceful structures in Europe. The aqueduct continued to flow water at a rate of 8 gallons per second for most of its history, and actually functioned as the town's back-up water supply until the 1980's.

Meson Candido, Segovia, Spain

Sitting in the shadow of the aqueduct is Meson Candido, probably the most famous restaurant in Spain. They have been serving Segovia's signature dish, roast suckling pig, since the 15th century. Three weeks of mothers milk, and into the oven. It's a must-stop location for every dignitary who visits Spain, and you'll see their pictures lining the walls inside.

Isabel's church, Segovia Spain

One of the people who may have eaten at Meson Candido when it first opened is Queen Isabel (the one who sent Christopher Columbus on his little adventure). Segovia was the main seat of the kings and queens of Castilla y Leon, and Isabel in particular loved the city. Just off the main square is the church where she was crowned. Her marriage to Ferdinand of Aragon joined together the two most powerful kingdoms on the Iberian peninsula and paved the way for a united Spain.

Segovia cathedral at night
Segovia has many other churches, including the the cathedral. Located just off the main square and dominating Segovia's sky line, it was the last Gothic-style church built in Europe.

I don't want to imply that Segovia is unknown, or that you won't see any tourists. It's just that the masses of tourists that swarm almost any worthwhile city all come as day-trippers from Madrid. The bus loads start arriving around 10:00 am, but by 4:00 pm they're all on their way back to Madrid, and peace reigns once again in Segovia.

Most of the old town center is a pedestrian zone. Locals come out and stroll the main street, kids kick a soccer ball around on the Plaza Mayor, while parents watch from a nearby cafe, sipping wine and munching tapas. Segovia appreciates the good life.

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