Segovia, Madrid....and The Three Wise Men
In Segovia, the aqueduct is the symbol of the city. Surely, it must have been one of the most beautiful in the Roman world.
It was probably built between the late 1st and early 2nd centuries, when Vespasiano and Trajano were emperors, in order to bring water from a nearby river to the city. This magnificent work of civil engineering that has been working until recently and is still in excellent condition, begins near the Granja Palace
with simple arches and carries the water to a tank known as 'el Caserón'. A canal then transports the water to a second tower and once it reaches Diaz Sanz square, row upon row of arches tower high above the ground. Its 20,400 stone blocks are neither cemented nor stuck together by any substance, and they remain as a solid perfect block up until this day. The maximum height of the structure is on the Azoguejo Square at 28.10 m and a total of 166 arches.
From the Granja Palace, located in San Ildefonso, there are wonderful views to the mountain pass of Navacerrada, which was already snow-covered. Also the palace has magnificent gardens. There are fountains spread far and wide, a huge lake and different sorts of gardens.
Any traditional Segovian dish tastes delicious. You can eat butter beans from Granja, Castilian soup (made basically with garlic and bread), stew and wild boar. However, the most characteristic dishes are roast lamb and roast piglet. “Chorizo” and sheep cheese are traditional, as well. Wine made in Ribera del Duero are the best choice to go with these exquisite delicacies.
Madrid is an amazing city. I had been there before, but the city always gets to enrapture me with its atmosphere. What is extremely necessary is to wear comfortable footwear to scour the whole city, since there are huge distances between any two places to visit. The city looks quite alike any other European capital. You don’t have to miss its old part of town and its main square, both in the city centre and near the main art museums, Sol square, the “Retiro” (a huge park in the heart of the city) and the Royal Palace. Here go two funny pictures. The first one is a vertical garden. The second one was taken the night before New Year`s Eve. In Madrid, that night there's a "pre-campanada". It's all put on, but the clock struck twelve and people celebrate it as if it was New Year's Eve. So, you have two chances to live the experience of being in Sol square for the twelve stroke. that's crazy!
Tonight is the twelfth night, when the Three Wise Men visit every house to leave gifts for children. There’s a parade of floats symbolizing the coming of the Three Wise Men to Bethlehem. So, it has religious roots.
It’s also a custom to have dinner with one’s family, and then eat all together the traditional large ring-shaped cake baked for Epiphany (roscón de Reyes) and to drink hot chocolate. In some places bonfires are lighted right across the parade to illuminate, metaphorically, the path to Bethlehem.
Little figures have been hidden inside the cake’s pastry. If you find a broad bean you’ll have to pay the cake. On the other side, if you find the king figure you’ll get a cardboard crown and you’ll be the king for a night. The photo below shows a roscón freshly baked (it's a home-made roscón).
Now it's time to leave. I've to take my niece to the Three Wise Men Parade.
Jonathan, thanks for your corrections and your vivid descriptions of Leeds, York and your walks.
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