Segovia is an extremely picturesque city. I really couldn’t stop taking shots while we were there, and have so many great images that we had to split it up into two posts. Enjoy this second glance of the wonderful city an hour north of Madrid. Our first post on Segovia can be found here.
Our hotel, Casa de Federico, was within spitting distance of the city cathedral, and so it was the first bit of sightseeing we did while in Granada.
The church is tucked tightly into Granada’s streets, making it difficult to judge its size from the outside. Once inside, I was completely surprised by the enormity of the cathedral. Cavernous. Massive granite columns support a roof that seems a mile away, making the chapel incredibly spacious. The organs are golden and just ridiculously huge. Despite the grandeur, though the church pulls off a serene atmosphere.
Gothic in design, the cathedral was built between the 16th and 18th centuries — a bit later than those in much of Spain; Catholicism had to be patient while Isabella & Ferdinand conquered the Moorish capital of Al-Andalus.
Speaking of the Catholic monarchs, the adjacent Royal Chapel was built to be their final resting place. Less breathtaking than the cathedral, the chapel is still worth a visit because of the sepulchers of the famous king & queen, which are engraved with likenesses of the royals. I read that the Isabella’s head appears more sunk down into its pillow because she was thought to be wiser than Ferdinand.
The Royal Chapel and the Cathedral are in the heart of the city center, close to one of Granada’s main intersections: Calle Colón and Calle Reyes Católicos. Towering there, where the streets named after them literally meet, is a statue of the famous encounter between Isabella and Christopher Columbus — a meeting which would change the history of the world.
It’s a testament to the awesomeness of the Valencian Cathedral that the Door of the Apostles is only its 2nd coolest entrance. Let’s take a little tour.
This door was originally the main entrance to the Moorish mosque, but in the 15th Century was redone in Gothic style, at which point it was adorned with its namesake apostles. All 12 are present and accounted for, though some are missing limbs or a head. They’re exquisitely detailed and six sit on each side of the door.
The tympanum above the door depicts Mary with baby Jesus in her arms, surrounded by angels. And above that is a rose window and stained glass which dates from 1354.
The Door of the Apostles is probably best known as the setting for the weekly Tribunal de las Aguas — the water court which has been held at noon on Thursday for centuries. Read more about that here.
[Secret Tip!] On the southern side of the door, don’t miss an ancient sundial carved into the rock. Whether it still tells the correct time?
Tucked inside the massive Cathedral of Valencia, you can find the Diocesan Cathedral Museum — a set of exhibition rooms filled with art and artifacts not used for worship.
The most difficult part of visiting the museum is finding it. Following the cryptic instructions of the information lady, I felt almost transported into The DaVinci Code. “The golden sun … can be found… through a door in the chapel of St. Frances Borgia … look for it under the Goya, but not that of the demons … and hurry, my love: They’re after you“.
Once you find the museum (and elude the murderous monk on your tail), the first thing you’ll see is a huge golden sun. This is the largest monstrance (vessel for the Eucharistic host) in the world. Impressive.
The rest of the museum is small but filled with interesting works, including the original sculptures from the Door of the Apostles, and paintings by Juan de Juanes. A curious exhibit features small sculptures from a scene depicting the circumcision of Christ.
However the highlight of visiting the museum is not literally found inside of it — the huge paintings by Goya occupying the lateral walls of the Chapel of St. Francis Borgia. Particularly of interest is the painting on the right-hand wall, showing St. Francis attempting to convert an unrepentant man on his death bed. This is the first appearance of demons in Goya’s work.
The museum can be visited in conjunction with the rest of the Cathedral — the entrance costs €4 and includes an audio guide (available in English). It’d be easy to visit the Cathedral and never know the museum exists, since it’s so hidden.
We're Jürgen and Mike, from Germany and the USA. We've been living in Valencia on-and-off since 2008. Much of our time is spent traveling the world with For 91 Days... but Valencia is the city we call home, and to which we'll always return.