Like Spain, I am bound to the past.
-William S. Burroughs
Segovia is best known for the dramatic Roman aqueduct that slices through the old town like a hot knife through butter (interestingly, the aqueduct precedes the historic city center). The remarkably well-preserved aqueduct from 50 BC, as well as the city's 11th century Alcázar and the 16th century Gothic cathedral, make up Segovia's inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Yet as incredible as these buildings and history are, it was an architectural detail that captured my attention in Segovia: most of the old buildings in town are elaborately decorated with esgrafiado, a decorative technique in stone and plaster unique to the region (it's included in the UNESCO listing). So, while the Spanish sun kept movement in the city to a minimum, the buildings were alive with geometric patterns and varied textures.
On a sunny weekday, I took a high-speed (Alta Velocidad Española, or AVE) train from Madrid to Segovia for about $30 round-trip, and have to say this has been my favorite Spanish day trip so far. I love the marvel and ingenuity of the Roman aqueduct, and how a beautiful city built up around it; the mix of ancient and modern lends a unique element to Segovia. The town was quiet apart from a few swarms of tourists at the Alcázar and cathedral, so a solitary hike in the wooded area near the Alcázar was unexpected and welcome. Plus, there are great views of the Alcázar with the best being from Iglesia de la Vera Cruz.