Autumn is slowly leaving us. Now, in November, sunlight fades too early. It’s a ritual that is repeated every evening – darkness falls slowly and silently, and just before it envelops the Santa Cruz la Real campus, a new, artificial light appears which is warm and beautiful. The hallways and walls of the old building change color. The students in the library look strangely detached from this calm transition. And the days get shorter and shorter, heralding the arrival of a new winter.
Segovia is an ideal city to discover on foot. The path that goes along the Eresma valley is wonderfully pleasant at any time of year and can surprise walkers with sights like this one. Segovia has a serene beauty, which should be taken in one piece at a time, calmly, without rushing or following any particular path. As the poet Antonio Machado once said: “Wayfarer, the only way is where your footsteps lead you and no other. Wayfarer, there is no set way. You make your own path by walking.”
“Light does not fall upon Segovia, but rather it is the city that rises toward it.” So said the Andalusia-born poet María Zambrano (Vélez-Málaga, 1904-Madrid, 1991), a writer and essayist who spent her childhood and youth in Segovia where she met Unamuno and Machado, and drank in the mysticism of San Juan de la Cruz. It was in Segovia that Zambrano, a privileged disciple of Ortega, wrote her first articles and developed her capacity for universal thought. She was also in Segovia when Spain declared its second republic, of which she was a fervent supporter. When war broke out, she left Segovia and went into exile, first in Paris, then in Mexico, La Habana, Puerto Rico, Rome… Twenty five years after she left Spain, Zambrano wrote an essay entitled “A place for words: Segovia”, in which she waxed philosophical about places around the city. She also talked about the special quality of the light in Segovia, something that had a marked impact on her. It’s the kind of light that puts everything in its natural place, she tells us. She’s right, the city rises each day toward the light, just like in this photo of its old quarter. This light will always remain, eternal, just like the literary legacy that María Zambrano left us.
One of the strangest fashions I’ve ever known is that which consists of carrying around a stick for taking selfies. A large number of the tourists walk around the center of Segovia with one. Whenever I see them climbing up the steep steps of the Postigo area to see the aqueduct in all its glory, I’m reminded of poor Sisyphus, condemned by the gods to keep rolling a boulder up a mountain, only to have it roll back down every time he reaches the top. Now, I’m not saying that tourists have to push enormous rocks up there, but they do have to carry their long sticks for their smartphones. The unhurried pace of Segovia, the atmosphere of its steep streets, the magic of its hidden corners and squares, are all hard enough to capture with a smartphone or camera. If I had to carry a selfie-stick around it would be very difficult indeed to capture the soul of my city. That’s why, if you visit Segovia, leave the stick at home, and don’t be a slave to selfies. Sharpen your senses. Try to retain in your memory the images of this beautiful little city, which is particularly beautiful in autumn, when temperatures are still benign. Challenge yourself to capture the essence of such an old and eternal place, where time seems to pass slowly, as if the rest of the world were travelling at a different speed. You don’t need a selfie stick to do that.
Big names in the worlds of literature, art, architecture and journalism met last week in Segovia for the 12th edition of Hay Festival Segovia. Once again, this international festival of ideas, art and thought, proved very popular – over 13,000 people attended one or more of the 94 events that made up the program. Thanks to the solid commitment of IE Foundation to the Festival, IE University again served as key collaborator and academic partner, hosting multiple events and activities from 16 to 24 of September. IE University played host to key players like architects Richard Rogers and Sou Fujimoto, writers Leila Slimani, Fernando Aramburu, Javier Marías and Dolores Redondo, to mention just a few of the 160 guest speakers who shared their experiences in course of the Festival.
The Tucson University of Arizona (USA) is regarded as an international model on technology and engineering studies. Thanks to an agreement with IE University, 25 of its students have come to Spain on a cultural and language immersion program. On the next six weeks, the will go to classes given by professors of both institutions not only in the Santa Cruz la Real campus, but also in different places around Segovia to learn about Spanish language, literature, culture and art.
Now that it’s spring, the weather is milder, and the streets of Segovia are bustling with people from all over. The Plaza Mayor is definitely the best meeting point. It’s where everything happens, and yet it’s also a place where sometimes nothing happens. I walk through its colonnade with my camera at the ready searching impatiently for something inspiring at long last. I say to myself: “Really, is it such a good idea to be rushing things like this?” I change tack, stop in my tracks and resign myself to waiting. All this, just to capture that fleeting moment that makes me want to spring into action. “Photography requires you to know how to experience the pleasure of waiting,” said master photographer Sebastião Salgado. And just when it seems like there’s nothing there for me, I see a mother kiss her child to comfort him – the very picture of tenderness. Austrian narrator and dramatist Arthur Schnitzler said: “To be ready is one thing, to be able to wait is another; but to seize the right moment is everything.” If I hadn’t waited, I would have gone home empty-handed.
Spring is the most unpredictable season I know. This evening a rain shower fell on Segovia’s Plaza Mayor. Nobody was expecting it. Only a few days ago Segovia was enjoying weather that was more like summer, and today you could be forgiven for thinking it was winter! There’s not an awful lot we can do about it I suppose! Actually, I quite like the fact that May is like this – raining one day, sunny the next. I want each day of the month of May to surprise me when I wake up. If spring wasn’t crazy, it wouldn’t be spring.
Andrea’s merry-go-round heralds the arrival of this year’s edition of Titirimundi, the international Puppet Festival, held in Segovia from May 10 to 15. This beautiful carousel, inspired by the fairground attractions first created in the eighteenth century, is a veritable work of art, decorated with paintings of scenes and characters from novels by Jules Verne, Tolkien, and J.K. Rowling. It is also pretty unusual in that it is made of so many different materials, such as wood, leather, glass, metal, pewter and copper. Children can ride on any number of different vessels and artefacts made from scrap metal. Airplanes, hot-air balloons, spaceships, dinosaurs, and wooden horses have taken up residence at the foot of the aqueduct.
The passers by looked like puppets in a Chinese shadow theatre with the Roman Aqueduct as the backdrop. The city center was suddenly darker because of this first snowfall of spring, and the snowflakes fell so thick and fast that I could hardly see what was happening more than a few meters in front of me. I couldn’t believe how the weather had turned like that. It has to said, however, that snow is one of the most beautiful miracles performed by nature. Beauty comes in any form it chooses. It always manages to brighten up even the darkest of days.