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Spain & Portugal

A vast expanse of history is waiting to be uncovered across the Iberian heartlands of Portugal and Spain. Discover glorious Roman monuments, amazing feats of engineering, and Moorish and Renaissance wonders that linger long in the memory. Join us to discover the captivating lands of the Conquistadors…

March 4 – 21, 2018
October 14 – 31, 2018
17 Days
$6,895 (exc. international airfare)
Single supp: $950
All meals included

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Tour Description

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Explore magnificent Roman ruins in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Mérida
  • Discover the Alhambra, a love letter to Moorish culture in Granada
  • Take a walking tour of Évora, one of Portugal’s most marvelous medieval towns

  • Enter the exclusive world of Bodegas Lustau for an afternoon sherry tasting
  • Enjoy free time to independently explore the Andalucían metropolis of Seville
  • Wander through the monumental tombs of Carmona necropolis

LED BY

March 2018
Prof. Ori Z. Soltes

October 2018
Prof. Ori Z. Soltes

ITINERARY

DAY 1 & 2: LISBON
We arrive in Lisbon on the morning of day 2, Portugal’s historic and happening capital, and transfer directly to our hotel. This evening we are welcomed with a lecture from our Expert Scholar before enjoying our first dinner as a group.
Hotel: Pestana Palace, Lisbon

DAY 3: LISBON
Our tour begins with a visit to the 15th-century Jerónimos Monastery, an ornate example of Portugal’s unique Manueline architectural style. The Monastery is also home to a superb Archaeological Museum, to which we pay a visit before going on to admire the accompanying Tower of Belém. Like the monastery, the tower is a lasting legacy of the Portuguese age of discovery, used not only to fortify the harbor, but as a custom house for both visiting and returning vessels.

Following lunch at a local restaurant, we enter Lisbon’s Roman Theater Museum, where we view the traces and artifacts that remain of this 1st-century BC site. There is then free time to rest or wander the city’s bustling streets for an enjoyable evening at our leisure.
Hotel: Pestana Palace, Lisbon

DAY 4: ÉVORA 
This morning we leave Lisbon and travel to Tróia, a former Roman ‘factory’ in which fish was salted and made into garum, a popular fermented sauce. This is not just any Roman ruin, but the largest known facility of its type in the Roman world.

We continue to the medieval town of Évora. Once the residence of Portuguese kings, Évora’s historic center is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site; a wonderful destination for archaeology enthusiasts. While here we embark on a walking tour of the town’s many Roman sites, including the colonnaded remains of the Templo Romano de Diana, which looms over the main square.
Hotel: M’ar De Ar Aqueduto, Evora

DAY 5: BADAJOZ
We continue our exploration of Évora this morning with a visit to the town’s museum, which contains some 20,000 pieces, including Medieval paintings, and Roman statues unearthed in the local area.

Afterwards, we head to Elvas for a short stop at the 16th-century Amoreira Aqueduct, a marvelous construction spanning the length of the municipality. If time permits, after crossing into Spain, we also pause at Badajoz for a visit to the Provincial Archaeology Museum, an old fortress in which thousands of artifacts chart the region’s history from the Bronze Age to the Moorish era, and all that’s in between.

Our day ends at Mérida, a city first founded by veterans of Emperor Augustus’ army in around 25 BC – and our home for the next two nights.
Hotel: Ilunion Palace, Mérida

DAY 6: MÉRIDA
We devote the entirety of our fifth day to admiring the plentiful Roman sites of Mérida – being the former capital of Lusitania, the city contains arguably the best collection of Roman remains in the whole of Spain. Don’t miss its amphitheater and theater, the latter of which is generally considered one of the best-preserved examples of its kind from the Empire. We also view the triumphal arch and the Puenta Romano, the longest of all the surviving Roman bridges, still standing and frequently used to this day.
Hotel: Ilunion Palace, Mérida

DAY 7: MÉRIDA
Following a sumptuous Spanish breakfast, we pay a visit to Mérida’s Archaeological Museum, where exciting excavations are in progress even now. After perusing exhibits of paintings, tombstones and sculptures we make our way out of the city and arrive at Huerta Montero Tholos. This Bronze Age or Chalcolithic burial site is remarkable for its exact alignment with the sun at the time of the winter solstice. A Megalithic marvel.

This afternoon we journey to the splendid city of Seville, where we enjoy free time to stroll the immaculate Andalusian streets before regrouping for a delicious dinner at our hotel.
Hotel: EME Catedral Hotel, Seville

DAY 8: SEVILLE
An early start takes us to Itálica, just a short drive from Seville. This Roman city is famed as being the birthplace of both Trajan and Hadrian, and its impressive remains not only include elaborate mosaic floors but an amphitheater with space for up to 25,000 spectators.

We return to Seville this afternoon for an excursion to the Archaeological Museum, home to many artifacts from Itálica, as well as other Roman sites in the area. The museum also displays the El Carambolo treasure, almost three kilos of ancient gold jewelry and statues, including that of a Phoenician goddess. Later we take a leisurely walk through the park to view the Plaza de España, a magnificent landmark notable for its ceramic depiction of Spain’s various provinces.
Hotel: EME Catedral Hotel, Seville

DAY 9: SEVILLE
Our first visit today is to the monumental Alcázar of Seville – a former royal palace of Moorish kings, with a rich blend of architecture that demonstrates a striking amalgamation of influences. Though originally established in the 11th century, the sprawling rooms and courtyards of the palace are still used by the Spanish royal family.

Next we enter Seville Cathedral. As well as being the largest Gothic building in Europe, and the third largest church in the world, the Cathedral is also famous as the final resting place of Christopher Columbus and his son, Diego. Its bell tower, the Giralda, was converted from its previous incarnation as a minaret after Seville was taken by the Christians in the mid-13th century. From its highest heights it offers outstanding views of the city. Lunchtime and the rest of the afternoon are free for us to spend as we please. Tonight we come back together for dinner at a local restaurant.
Hotel: EME Catedral Hotel, Seville

DAY 10: CÁDIZ
We make our way to Cádiz this morning for a visit to the Archaeological Museum, where we find evidence of the city’s past as the ancient Phoenician and Punic city of Gadir – one of the most important settlements in the Western Mediterranean. Highlights include two beautifully carved Phoenician stone sarcophagi.

Next we head to the Gadir archaeological site, where we learn even more about the Phoenician way of life by seeing streets, homes and tools dating back as far as the 9th century BC. This afternoon we head to Cádiz’s Teatro Romano, a 1st-century attraction that features in the writings of Cicero. We round off the afternoon with a drive to Jérez where we enjoy a tasting of the city’s most famous export, sherry. As the night draws in we return to our hotel in Seville.
Hotel: EME Catedral Hotel, Seville

DAY 11: CÓRDOBA
We bid farewell to Seville this morning and drive east to Carmona Necropolis, an intriguing complex of Iron Age and Roman tombs that contain such amazing monuments as the Tomb of the Elephant, with its kitchen and three dining rooms, and the Tomb of Servilia, which was built to resemble a Roman villa.

Following this, our journey leads on to Córdoba, where we spend time admiring the extraordinary Cathedral. A former mosque, and converted to Christianity in the 13th century, it remains an impressive example of Islamic architecture.
Hotel: Parador de Córdoba

DAY 12: MEDINA AZAHARA
This morning we take an excursion to Medina Azahara, the ruins of a vast Moorish palace-city which once served as the de facto capital of Muslim Spain. Though it flourished for only 80 years during the 10th century, a romantic complex of decorated archways and halls remains.

Returning to Córdoba, we have the afternoon free to spend as we wish. Feel the rhythms inside the Flamenco Museum, explore its atmospheric mosques and churches, or simply watch the world go by at the 17th-century Plaza de la Corredera. This evening the group enjoys dinner at a local restaurant.
Hotel: Parador de Córdoba

DAY 13: GRANADA
Our travels take us over to gorgeous Granada today, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Once here we spend the rest of our morning at a little-known jewel of the High Baroque period: the Cartuja Granada Monastery, a charterhouse founded in 1506, which contains a spectacularly-decorated tabernacle.

This afternoon we move on to view the resplendent Granada Cathedral, before taking a gentle walk around the Albaicin. This traditional quarter lies at the foot of the Alhambra, and is home to a network of winding streets flanked by traditional architecture. We celebrate our first night in the area with an evening meal at one Granada’s lovely local restaurants.
Hotel: Alhambra Palace, Granada

DAY 14: TOLEDO
We simply must devote this morning to the peerless Alhambra Palace, a hilltop Moorish and Renaissance fantasy set against the backdrop of the Sierra Morena. This legendary UNESCO World Heritage site is certainly set to take our breaths away. A huge complex of carved ceilings, flawless courtyards and glorious gardens, it rightly draws in visitors from all corners of the globe.

After lunch at a local restaurant, the afternoon is ours to explore Granada independently, before reuniting for dinner at our hotel.
Hotel: Parador de Toledo

DAY 15: TOLEDO
In the spirit of Sunday, the day of rest, our morning begins with a relaxing drive to Toledo, a World Heritage city set on the banks of the Tagus River. After lunch we admire Toledo’s impressive Gothic cathedral, a 13th-century sanctuary streaming with natural light. We also enter the Church of Santo Tomé, home to El Greco’s stupendous 1580s masterpiece, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz.

The evening is left free for us to take in the sights of Toledo by night.
Hotel: Parador de Toledo

DAY 16: MADRID
After breakfast we rise to explore Toledo by foot – a real feast for the senses. Before the expulsion of the Moors and Jews from Spain, the city was well known for its religious tolerance, and is home to some of the last mosques and synagogues built in Spain before it became forbidden to do so.

Next we drive to Madrid, and begin our adventures in Spain’s buzzing capital with a visit to the Museo del Prado. The country’s principle museum of art, Prado exhibits renowned works by Goya, Velázquez, and many, many more.
Hotel: NH Collection Palacio de Tepa, Madrid

DAY 17: MADRID
Our final full day of the trip starts with an enlightening tour of the National Archaeology Museum. Within its collections are gathered artifacts from all over the country, including the renowned Dama de Elche, the most famous piece of Iberian art in existence. Little can compare to the intricacies of this limestone bust, which dates back to around the 4th century BC.

The afternoon is free for us to explore Madrid at our leisure, leaving plenty of time to go wherever our curiosity takes us. Marvel at Picasso’s Guernica at the Centro de Arte Reína Sofia, connect with 17th-century Spain in the Plaza Mayor, or wander the luxurious lawns of the Parque del Buen Retiro. We mark our last night with a delectable farewell dinner and drinks as a group.
Hotel: NH Collection Palacio de Tepa, Madrid

DAY 18: HOME
We transfer to the airport and make our return journey home.

Additional Information

Calendar Year

2018

Reservation Form

Accommodation

2018 Accommodation

Pestana Palace LisbonPestana Palace Lisbon

This Palace is beautifully resorted and boasts ‘one of the leading hotels in the world’. In an ideal location as well, next to the Tower of Belém and the city’s other great monuments, this makes the perfect first night’s stay. The rooms are elegant and spacious and the hotel has two lovely pools and a spa.

 

 

M’ar De Ar Aqueduto EvoraM'ar-de-ar-AE-1

This exciting combination of contemporary and rustic décor reflects the historic city centre perfectly. Without forgetting the XV century Sepulveda family Palace it once was, this stylish hotel accommodates the modern traveller with a few contemporary surprises along the way. The rooms are a calm space with views over the aqueduct or the hotel garden.

 

 

Ilunion MeridaIlunion-Merida-1

The beauty of Merida is reflected in this hotel. After a long day of sightseeing, the Arabian lounge makes the perfect place to put your feet up as you soak up the relaxed atmosphere of the hotel. The large windows in the bedroom look out across the town and the cozy décor combines classic wood furnishings and greco-decoration…Don’t miss the sunset over the Plaza De Espana from the roof-top pool.

 

 

EME Cathedral Hotel SevilleEME-1

This hotel is the essence of the Mediterranean. Indulge all your senses, from unparalleled views of the Cathedral, almost in touching distance at you recline on the roof bar, to tantalized taste buds of the full flavoured Spanish cuisines. This hotel has a statement design, the rooms are modern & bold so get ready for some fun in Seville!

 

 

Parador de CordobaDe-Cordoba-1

From exploring the old town be transported to this new, contemporary and sophisticated hotel. On the site of the ruins of Abderraman I Palace, you can wander the grounds and find some of the oldest palm trees in Europe! The rooms are cosy and are good sizes with soft and warm textures, with amenities to meet all your needs.

 

 

Alhambra Palace Alhambara-1

Step onto the terracotta tiles of the top floor bar terrace and look out across the romantic city of Granada, steeped in history and culture. The Hotel is a beautiful design, almost a look-a-like of the Palace. The rooms have been built with original decorations, intricate plaster shapes & romance in mind – all with the latest luxury amenities.

 

 

Parador de ToledoToledo-1

We definitely make the most of this World Heritage Imperial city. This hotel has impressive views from its swimming pool, terraces, lounges and rooms… in fact, anywhere you are in the hotel you’ll see spectacular scenery! You’ll be welcomed by the warm and cosy atmosphere and the rooms are clean and crisp in neutral colours and tiled floors.

 

 

NH Collection Palacio de Tepanh_collection_palacio_-1

In the heart of Old Madrid, it’s only fitting to stay in this stunning Palace which was designed by the architect of the Museo del Prado, Juan de Villanueva. The rooms are all renovated in a contemporary, yet elegant style. Each has a cosy feel with wooden floors and leather furniture. In a prime location, too, it doesn’t take long to wander into town for an evening stroll.