- 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
Monday, March 5
We arrive in Lisbon, where we spend our first night. This evening, we are welcomed with a lecture from our Expert Scholar before dinner at our hotel.
Tuesday, March 6
Our first visit of the tour is to Jerónimos Monastery, an ornately beautiful example of the 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, a legacy of the Portuguese age of discovery. This afternoon, we pay a visit to the Roman Theater Museum.
Wednesday, March 7
This morning, we travel to Tróia, a former Roman ‘factory’ for the salting of fish in preparation for being made into Garum. We continue to the medieval town of Évora, once the residence of Portuguese kings, whose historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, we embark on a walking tour of its many Roman sites including the Templo Romano de Diana.
Thursday, March 8
We continue our exploration of Évora this morning with a visit to the town’s museum. Afterwards, we head to Elvas for a short stop at the Amoreira aqueduct which spans the entire municipality, before moving on to Badajoz for a visit to the Provincial Archaeology Museum. Finally, we travel to Mérida, where we are staying this evening.
Friday, March 9
We devote an entire day to admiring the plentiful Roman sites of Mérida, including an amphitheater and theater, the latter being one of the best-preserved examples from across the Empire. The city was once the capital of Lusitania, and contains arguably the best collection of Roman remains in the whole of Spain.
Saturday, March 10
We pay a visit to Mérida’s Archaeological Museum this morning before making our way to the Huerta Montero Tholos, a Bronze Age or Chalcolithic burial site remarkable for its exact alignment with the sun on the winter solstice. This afternoon we make our way to Seville, where we have some free time before dinner.
Sunday, March 11
We have an early start this morning for our visit to Itálica. This Roman city was the birthplace of both Trajan and Hadrian, and its impressive remains include mosaic floors and an amphitheater. We return to Seville this afternoon for a visit to the Archaeological Museum, home to artifacts from Itálica and other Roman sites in the area. Afterwards, we take a leisurely walk through the park to see the Plaza de España, especially notable for its ceramics depicting all the provinces of Spain.
Monday, March 12
Our first visit is to the monumental Alcázar of Seville — the former royal palace of Moorish kings, its architecture shows a striking amalgamation of influences. We then pay a visit to Seville Cathedral — the largest Gothic building in Europe, and the third-largest church in the world — and its bell tower, the Giralda. Lunchtime and the rest of the afternoon are free for us to spend as we please.
Tuesday, March 13
We make our way to Cádiz this morning for a visit to the Archaeological Museum, where we see remains of the city’s past as ancient Gadir. We pay a visit to the Gadir archaeological site, where we learn a little more about the Phoenician way of life, and then to Cádiz’s Teatro Romano. Finally, we drive to Jérez where we enjoy a tasting of the city’s most famous export: sherry.
Wednesday, March 14
We begin the day at Carmona Necropolis, a monumental complex of Iron Age and Roman tombs, before embarking on our journey to Córdoba. Here, we spend an afternoon admiring the Cathedral. A former mosque, it was converted in the 13th century, but remains an exceptional example of Islamic architecture.
Thursday, March 15
Our first visit is to Medina Azahara, the ruins of a vast Moorish palace-city which once served as the de facto capital of Muslim Spain. Afterwards, we have the afternoon free to spend as we wish.
Friday, March 16
We travel to Granada and spend the morning at a little-known jewel of the High Baroque period: the Cartuja Granada monastery. After lunch, we move on to Granada Cathedral and take a walk around the Albaicin. This traditional quarter lies at the foot of the Alhambra, and is home to winding streets flanked by traditional architecture.
Saturday, March 17
We devote this morning to the magnificent Alhambra Palace, a Moorish and Renaissance fantasy set on a hilltop against the backdrop of the Sierra Morena. After lunch at a local restaurant the afternoon is ours to explore independently.
Sunday, March 18
After a morning drive to Toledo, we spend the afternoon admiring the impressive Gothic cathedral and the Church of Santo Tomé, home to El Greco’s masterpiece, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz.
Monday, March 19
We spend the morning exploring Toledo by foot — before the expulsion of the Moors and Jews from Spain, the city was famed for its religious tolerance, and is home to some of the last mosques and synagogues to be built in Spain before it became forbidden to do so. Afterwards, we drive to Madrid for a visit to the Museo del Prado, the home of works by Goya, Velázquez, and many others.
Tuesday, March 20
The final visit of our tour is to the National Archaeology Museum. Its collections have gathered artifacts from all over the country, including the renowned Dama de Elche. This afternoon is free for us to explore Madrid at our leisure.
Wednesday, March 21
We transfer to the airport for departures home or onward travel.
We stay in a selection of hotels in Lisbon,
Évora, Mérida, Seville, Córdoba, Granada, Toledo and Madrid.
Prof. Ori Z. Soltes
Prof. Ori Z. Soltes