Aqueduct and Azoguejo Square: viewpoint of the Stone Harp

Segovia acueducto 1


Text and photo: Eduardo González


There are few places where seeing and being seen is almost the same thing. The Aqueduct of Segovia is not only a majestic work of engineering of the most magnificent time of the still young Roman Empire, it also constitutes one of the most spectacular urban viewpoints of Castile, with the busy Azoguejo Square full of restaurants at its feet.


The Aqueduct, which is 30 metres high and has 167 arches, was built in the beginning of the 2nd century A. D. to take water from Sierra de Guadarrama (which we can see in the photo’s background) throughout a journey of 16,222 metres that concluded in the once Celtiberian hill-fort and then Roman municipality of Segovia.


Miguel de Unamuno lost less time with technical terms when he described it and he used words much more appropriate to the beauty of that “stone harp”, between whose spans “wind does not sing” but “swifts squawk”. “Those stones, tactically piled up without any mortar, chamfered by water and sun and wind over the centuries, maintain their individuality, each and every single of them, and they are like many other soldiers of a legion in quiet battle order”.


On both sides of the Aqueduct we find the Artillería Square and the Azoguejo Square, which is that one in the photo where the extremely famous Mesón Cándido, sanctuary of roast suckling pig, is.


The square is an old market place (its name comes from the Arab term suq, souk) where traders, farmers and cattle-raisers gathered and where stagecoaches and buses stopped. Besides, the square also has its literary quote, in none other than the Quixote.


Chapter three, Donde se cuenta la graciosa manera que tuvo don Quijote en armarse caballero, tells how the innkeeper, “who like it has been said, was a little sarcastic and had already noticed the lack of judgment of his guest”, decided “to go along with his humour” and to share that even himself, “in his young days, had taken part in that respectable exercise” of the knight errantry in places as exotic (and generally connected to the guile and prostitution) as the Perchel of Málaga, the Rondilla of Granada, the Ventillas of Toledo or the Azoguejo of Segovia, where he was known “for almost all courts in Spain”.



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