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There are three things that, in a word, will knock your socks off when you first set foot in Segovia.

First, there’s the Roman aqueduct.

I am in awe of structures this old, built without the machinery we have today. Or mortar, for that matter. This one dates back to the first century CE.

Then there’s the Alcázar.

Situated at one end of the medieval city, like the prow of a ship, it has served Segovia as fortress, royal palace, and prison. Currently, it is a museum.

And lastly, there’s the cathedral. That’s the tall building in the centre of this photo, which I took from the Alcázar.

Built in the sixteenth century in the late Gothic style, it was undergoing restoration work when we were there — hence, the scaffolding.

Segovia is about 75 kilometres northeast of Ávila, and was the final stop of our tour through Castile La Mancha and Castile and León. What Segovia, Ávila, and Toledo have in common is they are all technically do-able as day trips from Madrid. But don’t short-change yourself. Spend at least a couple of nights in each city — you won’t regret it.

Through My Lens: Iglesia de la Vera Cruz

Vera Cruz

For Palm Sunday, I’m posting a photo of Iglesia de la Vera Cruz (Church of the True Cross), which is located in Segovia. This church is one of the most extraordinary churches I’ve ever set foot in.

(But then, I could say that about Córdoba’s Mezquita. Or Barcelona’s La Sagrada Família. Why don’t I just put it out there that Spain does churches in a way all its own?)

Iglesia de la Vera Cruz is a Romanesque church that was built by the Knights Templar and consecrated in 1208. Its name comes from the reason for its existence: to house a fragment of the True Cross ― the cross on which Christ was crucified. The relic has since been moved to another church in another town.

What’s so curious about this church is its twelve-sided (that’s dodecagonal to the geometry nerds among us) shape. In the centre is a two-storey chapel, called an edículo, accessible by twin staircases. The lower level of this chapel has four arches corresponding to the four cardinal directions of north, east, south, west, and the upper level contains an altar. The church is said to be modelled after the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (which is where, according to legend, the True Cross was found).

It’s not a big church and its unique design allowed the knights to come in on horseback, form a circle around the chapel in the centre, and hold vigil over the relic.