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Last updated: 09/13/2006
Explore the wonders of Spain, a country rich in tradition, history and culture. This fascinating country boasts some of the world's finest museums, monuments, majestic castles and palaces.
Arrive in Madrid
The Royal Palace and the Prado Museum in Madrid
Transfer to Granada
This morning we journey to Granada with a stop for lunch. On arrival i Granada we transfer to our hotel for the afternoon and the remainder of the day at leisure.
The Alhambra in Granada
Devote a full day to sightsee one of the must-sees' of Spain, the Alhambra. This mountain top palace, built as the centre of the Moorish kingdom of Granada, represents the pinnacle of Moorish art and architecture. We visit the wooden Royal Palace and the fortifications of the Alcazaba.
The serene gardens of the Generalife, country estate of the Nasrid kings, on the Alhambra's northern side, are a perfect place to relax and reflect. The gardens have undergone many changes since the 13th Century. Today the formal Upper Gardens vie for attention with the Moorish patio lower gardens and the Cypress Patio, once the secret meeting place for the wife of Sultan Abu-I-Hassan and her lover. B, D.
Transfer to Seville
In this capital city, the city of passion, you are in the very heart of Andalusian culture-- the centre of bullfighting and Flamenco music. Seville was also the home of famous and infamous figures of history. The legendary "Don Juan" started from here to conquer the hearts of women across all Europe, while Columbus started from a port close to Seville to discover a new world. The famous opera, Carmen, was inspired by this city. B, D.
Jewish Quarter, La Giralda, Real Alcazar in Seville
Begin your day by visiting the city's old Jewish Quarter, a beautiful warren of whitewashed alleyways and flower-lined patios, and the focus of worship for the three great religions. Perhaps surprisingly, it is here that we find the great Gothic Cathedral, itself built on the site of a 12th Century Mosque. The building's architecture reflects it's history : La Giralda, the bell tower is still recognizably a minaret, and the Patio de los Naranjos, with its fountains and orange trees, is unchanged from its former' life as the courtyard of the mosque. The rest of the Cathedral is florid Gothic, a suitably extravagant resting place for Christopher Columbus.
Relax this afternoon for awhile in the unbelievably peaceful Royal Palace (Real Alcazar). The Royal Palace is a Christianized Almohad fortress. This See the dazzling dome of the Ambassadors' Hall, the cool gardens and patios, and the State Rooms of Charles V. There will follow some time at leisure to explore this picturesque quarter. B, D.
Transfer to Cordoba
Transfer to Cordoba, Spain's greatest centre of Moorish culture that once boasted Europe's pre-eminent university in the middle ages. Some leisure time with a group dinner in the evening included. B, D.
La Mezquita and Medina Azahara in Cordoba
Everywhere you look in this beautiful town is a picture postcard view of whitewashed houses, crumbling churches, orange trees and tumbling flowers. The focus of our morning is the Great Mosque, La Mezquita, built over a period of 200 years following the Moorish conquest of the area in the 8th century. The peaceful courtyards are perfect places to sit and reflect on history and culture.
Take a delightful afternoon excursion to Medina Azahara, built by Abdul Rahman in the 10th Century. Although ruined, one can still make out the palace, administrative district, parks and gardens. Chroniclers tell us about the extraordinary beauty of the palace's Throne Hall and Golden Salon, both with arcs of ebony and ivory and ornaments of marble, gold and precious stones. In the center there was a basin filled with mercury, which reflected the rays of sunshine. But the glory of Medina Azahara was short-lived; after only 74 years, it was destroyed by the Bereberes, and remained forgotten until archaeologists began work excavating it in 1910. B, D.
Transfer to Toledo
El Creco's house, Santa Maira la Blanca, and San Juan Monestary in Toledo
Toledo, Spain's medieval capital city, centre of Spanish Catholicism, is also melting pot of the great religions. Our first stop is the Iglesia de Santo Tome, a medieval church with a beautiful Mudejar tower, now best known as the home of El Greco's masterpiece The Burial of the Count of Orgaz . Nearby is El Greco's House and Museum, where we can learn more about the life and work of the great artist.
We continue to the Sinagoga de Santa Maria la Blanca, the oldest and largest of the city's original eight, built in the 12th Century. Here the Golden Age' of religious tolerance came to a violent end with a massacre of Jews in 1391. After lunch, the Sinagoga del Transito is perhaps the best example of the mix of religions in Toledo : a former synagogue, built in the 14th Century, then transformed into a Mudejar prayer hall with one of the most exquisite interiors. The ceiling frieze harmoniously fuses Islamic, Gothic and Hebrew geometric motifs. The group will not want to miss the excellent museum dedicated to Sephardi (Spanish Jewish) culture.
Our final stop of the day is at the Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes, another great building with a mix of architectural styles. Next to the original wall of the Jewish Quarter, this monastery was commissioned by the Catholic Monarchs to celebrate victory over the Portuguese (Toro, 1476), but includes several wonderful Islamic design features and decorations, including the geometric-patterned ceiling. B, D.
Return to Madrid
- Inclusions -
- all transfers except airport transfers
- Exclusions -
- meals not designated in the itinerary
- Extras -
- Explore the wonders of Spain, a country rich in tradition, history and culture. This fascinating country boasts some of the world's finest museums, monuments, majestic castles and palaces.
The trip begins and ends in the capital city of Madrid, known as being one of the great cultural capitals of the world. Mysterious and enchanting, from its grand boulevards and plazas, centuries-old palaces and medieval quarters, this city has many faces.
On to Spain's exotic Andalusia region and its most unforgettable place, the dramatic hilltop fortress and palaces of the Alhambra, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Located in a site of rare natural beauty, Moorish poets described it as 'a pearl set in emeralds.' It is one of the most perfect examples of Moorish art in its final European development.
Next comes Spain's 'fun city' of Seville where you are at the heart o the Andalusian culture of flamenco and bullfighting.
The ancient, charming city of Cordoba reminds you of a picture postcard with its whitewashed houses, crumbling churches, orange trees and tumbling flowers. The center of Moorish culture and known as the 'Moor's Mecca of the west, ' it has a cultured past as grand as that of Rome or Constantinople.
The ancient capital of Toledo, set high on a hill above the Tagus River, combines many different cultures: Roman, Visigoth, Moorish, Jewish and Christian.
Join us for this our first European adventure to experience wonderful tradition, history and culture in this most special country of Spain.
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Email the tour operator - Magnificent Spain
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