So on Sunday I took another trip outside of the city. This time we traveled North West for about an hour and a half. Segovia seems like a pretty secluded town, but there also seemed to be quite a few people living there. Their definite landmark is the 2,000 year old aqueducts, which were actually built by the devil. So a long time ago, there was this servant girl who had to walk very far to fetch buckets of water, and she had to do it multiple times a day. Eventually she got so fed up that she proclaimed she would sell her soul to the devil if water could come straight to the house. With that, the devil appeared and took up the offer; he agreed to build a solution, but the only stipulation was that the project had to be completed by dawn or the deal was off. As the hours passed, the young women looked out her window and saw the devil and his little devil friends building the aqueducts and came to greatly regret her promise. When the structure was nearly completed, save for one single block, the devil flew up to place it when a rooster crowed and surprised him. He ended up hesitating for just a moment, and that’s when the first ray of sun came over the horizon. Basically, the lady was able to keep her soul and the aqueducts were still constructed, at least that’s what the tour guide told us. What I don’t get is why the devil, in his infinite evilness, didn’t just knock them down once the deal was off, but I guess all’s well that ends well.
To balance out all the devil speak, we also toured a couple of churches. The first one was built in the Romanesque style and was pretty interesting. It was all concrete (I guess) on the inside, and there really wasn’t much to it. I mean the ceilings were cool, but the alter was not like any other cathedral I’d seen; really the only decoration was a huge crucifix. There also weren’t really windows for two reasons; they wanted to ensure the longevity of the structure by not compromising the walls with too many holes, and they didn’t want any outside distractions during the mass. I guess it worked because the church was built over 800 years ago and is the second-longest standing structure in the city. Apparently there used to be murals painted on all the wall, but only one has survived. Back in the day, churches were breading grounds for illnesses because everyone congregated there, so the people believed they could combat the spread of germs by covering the walls in lime. When they removed it all in the 1940’s, there miraculously was still one left. Anyway, I wish we would have been allowed to take pictures there because it was one of the most unique old churches I’ve seen. Just picture a large, dark, concrete room with pews facing a crucifix.
The next church we went to was built a little later in the typical Gothic style architecture. It was really neat on the outside, but the inside looked very similar to most of the other cathedrals I’ve seen here. After those churches, we went to an old monastery that contains the tomb of Juan de la Cruz. So this man turns out to be one of the most influential Hispanic writers in all of literature. I think he was also one of the first. I don’t exactly remember everything, but the sect of Catholicism he belonged to had been at war with the Muslims, but then the sect split and starting fighting against each other. He ended being taken prisoner by the other sect and treated very terribly until he eventually escaped. He is now very highly regarded among authors and Catholics alike. We also got to see a castle that was damaged in a fire, but reconstructed and apparently replicated in a scene from Fantasia. There was also some pretty cool scenery. We ended up doing a ton of walking on soo many stairs and hills! It was worth it though. Overall it was an interesting day, and it was nice to spend time in such a small(ish) town.
Oh so the other day I was looking for this one place, but was lost (per usual) and ended up finding the National Library! It was pretty awesome, and I got to go through a museum that outlined the progression of the printing press, books, Hispanic literature, and other forms of media. I have to admit, I felt pretty old when I saw floppy disks, as well as VHS and cassette tapes, on display in a museum!
So begins another week of classes. At my orientation the professors said students tend to work an average of 15-20 hours a week per class, and it turns out they weren’t exaggerating. Oh well, studying Spanish is a great way to improve my neuroplasticity and prevent dementia 🙂