Queen Isabella
Hemingway Ernest Hemingway
Alex Alex

The last major stop on Alex's tour of Spain was Segovia, a historic town nestled in the green hills northwest of Madrid. Segovia was the city under attack in Ernest Hemingway's classic war novel For Whom the Bell Tolls, and the site of the coronation of Queen Isabella, the lady who sent Christopher Columbus to America. It was also, we assume, the site of some heroic deeds by Juan Bravo. At the time, Alex and his parents had no idea who Juan Bravo was, or what he did, but since Segovia dedicated a statue to him, and named a street and a theater after him, they figured he must have been fairly popular. (We'd like to thank the many readers who wrote to us telling us who Juan Bravo was. Some day we'll share some of the many responses we've received!)

Beneath the
Roman aqueduct The view from beneath one of the soaring arches of Segovia's Roman Aqueduct. The aqueduct was built without mortar, and has been standing for nearly two thousand years.

Aqueduct The Roman Aqueduct from street level.
Segovia's most unique feature is its still-functioning ancient aqueduct. It was built by the Romans around 50 AD, and is designed to make water flow uphill. (Don't ask us how that works!) Even more amazing, Segovia's aqueduct was built without mortar. The pillars, and the arches, of the structure were built simply by stacking large stones. (Those Romans were pretty clever, weren't they?)

When standing under a tall arch comprised of hundreds of tons of mortarless stone, it's hard not to think, "What am I doing under here? Those rocks are gonna fall on me!!!" However, it would take profoundly bad luck to be standing under the arch at the precise instant it collapses after standing for twenty centuries. Alex's father managed to take the photograph, above, and lived to tell the story.

For Alex, nothing in Segovia was more fun than running circles around the statue of Juan Bravo. (We still don't know who he was, by the way.) Throughout his two days in Segovia, Alex was continually drawn to this statue like a moth to a flame.
Juan Bravo Alex poses proudly in front of the statue of Juan Bravo.
Alex having fun with Juan Bravo Alex enjoyed running circles around the statue.
Leapin' Lion Ladies! A kiss for a Lion Lady
The Juan Bravo statue was guarded by two Sphinxes. Above left, we see Alex leaping off the pedestal of one of the two "lion ladies." At right, Alex laughs as his mother "kisses on" the lion lady.
The Alcazar in Segovia
The Alcazar in Segovia
In front of the Alcazar in Segovia. Alex was convinced that this was the castle of the wicked queen from Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
In Segovia, the modern mingles with the medieval. More so than in some of the other Spanish cities Alex visited, the modern world has encroached upon the ancient downtown. It's a modern, livable city, suitable for both tourists and residents. It's a lively city, with wide streets reserved for pedestrians (unlike, for example, Toledo, where cars zoom through even the narrowest of streets.) Segovia is a great town for wandering, shopping, dining, hanging out, and, of course, running circles around statues.

In the center of Segovia's Plaza Mayor (Main Square) a large gazebo sits atop a high platform. During the day, a swarm of small Spanish children and toddlers happily run up and down the gazebo's steps and, with equal glee, stomp around in circles once inside the gazebo. Were it not for the statue of Juan Bravo, the gazebo would have easily been Alex's favorite attraction in Segovia.

So if you're ever looking for an overnight side trip from Madrid, consider Segovia. And if you go there, look up Juan Bravo for us, and tell him that Alexander, of The Alexander Home Page, sends his regards.

gazebo in the Plaza Mayor The gazebo in Segovia's Plaza Mayor.