IE University’s campus in Segovia boasts a rich history that has defined the city for centuries. Today, Vice-Rector Miguel Larrañaga takes us on a journey of its transformation, proving that we can use the past as a foundation for the future.
Past and future intertwine at IE University’s campus in Segovia. The ancient town, located in Castile and León, just a train ride away from Madrid, traces back its history to the bygone era of the Celtic and, later, Roman civilizations. The plentiful waters of the Eresma River have fuelled continuous habitation of the area since then, establishing a rich historical record filled with trade, textiles and a vibrant cultural legacy.
Today, you can still see Segovia’s centuries-old past reflected in its winding cobbled streets, stunning natural landscapes and medieval Gothic architecture. In fact, the presence of the Aqueduct of Segovia—built around the first century AD by the city’s Roman forefathers—and its plethora of historically important civil and religious buildings led Segovia to receive its UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1985.
Blending history and innovation
It’s in one of these ancient buildings that IE University decided to install its campus in Segovia in 2006. Convento de Santa Cruz la Real—or the Convent of Santa Cruz la Real in English—has since become one of the most unique university campuses in the world, blending deep tradition with cutting-edge technology to create a one-of-a-kind learning environment.
“It was the first foundation of the Dominican monks in Spain at the beginning of the 13th century, so we have more than 800 years of history here,” explains Miguel Larrañaga, professor and Vice-Rector for Student Affairs at IE University. After a years-long period of renovation and restoration, the old convent now holds some of the most state-of-the-art spaces while still maintaining relics of its past—including its signature Spanish Gothic architecture, soaring cathedral ceilings and the enduring spirit of dedication, commitment and hard work.
Now, the monastery has been transformed into an ideal setting for higher education. In a perfect juxtaposition of old and new, ancient prayer halls have become innovative classrooms and meeting spaces well suited for the rigors of the modern age. Recently, Miguel took us on a tour of the Segovia campus, revealing how the new changes influence students’ daily lives: “We’re going to show you the most important spaces around the campus.”
1. The Chapter Room
Historically dedicated to Saint Vincent, the chapter room has always served as a core communal space. “It’s where the Dominicans used to meet in order to pray and make decisions for daily life,” Miguel says. And it still retains its purpose today, serving as a high-tech, all-in-one meeting room, book presentation and theses defense area and so much more.
2. The old church
The old church was built in the 13th century under the leadership of the infamous Tomás de Torquemada, a Dominican friar and the first Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition. Since then, it has managed to solidify its own legacy, in no small part due to its towering portal, which still manages to inspire centuries on. As Miguel recounts, “People used it as a church until the middle of the 19th century.”
Today, it is IE University’s Aula Magna, the main hall used to host opening ceremonies, graduations and other grand celebrations on campus.
3. The Central Cloister
As its name suggests, the central cloister lies at the core of the Segovia campus, serving as the main thoroughfare facilitating movement throughout the institution. “This place leads to the most important places for daily life, not only for the Dominicans but also for the university,” Miguel reveals.
The value of this lush, green space right in the middle of communal life at Segovia cannot be understated. Not only does it establish a logical flow to and from all the institution’s important spaces, but the well-maintained greenery also provides a welcome breath of fresh air during the demanding day-to-day schedule of student life.
4. The Chapel
A dedicated space for prayer and reflection, the royal chapel has long been an edifice of Romanesque art. It’s now completely remodeled to house IE University’s innovative MediaLab, a premier space fostering audiovisual talent. “This place is used by communications students to prepare movies, presentations and other multimedia assets,” says Miguel.
Far from its ascetic beginnings, the MediaLab is now home to the most state-of-the-art media spaces, including a television studio, production control room, digital editing booths, photography studios and more. It’s also ground zero for many interesting projects such as the ongoing one with the municipality of Coca. Miguel explains: “We are trying to reconstruct, in the metaverse, the Roman villa of Emperor Theodosius.”
Onward to the future
Backed by the convent’s rich history, the Segovia campus is ideally suited to expand our students’ expertise and professional profiles while continuing to put IE University, as a whole, on the map. And while the past is a source of endless insight and motivation, we continue to move steadily toward the future, blending tradition and innovation to create a uniquely immersive and enriching learning experience.