Art Treasures of Madrid and Andalusia
From the Prado to the Alhambra, discover the magnificent art treasures of Madrid and the splendours of Andalusia.
Beginning in Madrid, enjoy comprehensive visits to three of the world’s great art collections, as you savour the sophistication of the Spanish capital. Then, by fast train and leisurely coach, travel across Andalusia, the historical domain of the Moors from 711 until 1492, and Spain’s most culturally diverse region. From Seville and Córdoba in the west to Granada in the east, discover the fascinating history, art, architecture, food and culture of this captivating corner of the Iberian Peninsula. On the way, enjoy an interlude in Ronda and discover the re-birth of Malaga as a centre of modern and contemporary art.
This tour is part of the World Art Tours program organised by the Art Gallery Society of NSW in partnership with Renaissance Tours.
Suggested departure from Australia on Emirates/QANTAS Airlines flights to Madrid via Dubai.
Arrival in Madrid early afternoon and check in to your hotel.
This evening, join Brian Ladd and fellow travellers for a welcome briefing, and wine and tapas reception.
Following a talk by Brian, begin your exploration of Madrid with a morning walking tour of the Old Madrid, from the Puerta del Sol to the Plaza de Oriente, ending in the beautiful 17th century arcaded square, the Plaza Mayor, the architectural and social heart of the city. Explore the nearby picturesque small square, the Plaza de la Villa.
After lunch at a local restaurant visit one of the world’s greatest art collections – the Museo del Prado. Opened in 1819 to display the royal collection of paintings, sculpture and decorative arts, the Prado houses the world’s largest collection of Spanish painting featuring works by Velazquez, El Greco and Goya, as well as an extensive display of Italian and Flemish works. The Prado boasts the largest and finest array of paintings by Titian and Hieronymus Bosch in the world.
Today visit Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. Highlights of the museum include superb collections of Spain’s foremost 20th century masters, including Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro and Salvador Dalí. Certainly the most important masterpiece in the museum is Picasso’s celebrated Civil War painting Guernica, 1937. The Reina Sofía also has fine collections of work by Juan Gris, Julio González, Eduardo Chillida, Antoni Tàpies, Lucio Muñoz and many other significant artists.
Continue to Joaquín Sorolla House museum. Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida was a leading Spanish Impressionist whose former early 20th century studio-mansion, with a beautiful garden designed by the artist himself, has been preserved as an artist’s museum.
After a talk by Brian, visit the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, based on the collection assembled by the Baron Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza and his son Hans Heinrich, from the 1920s to 1992, when the museum opened. Spanning seven centuries and representing the history of Western art from the Italian Renaissance through to the 20th century, the presentation superbly complements works held by Madrid’s other two great art museums.
Afternoon at leisure.
This morning enjoy a second visit to the Prado Museum, followed by an optional performance in the evening. Programme to be announced, not included on the tour price.
Afternoon at leisure.
Transfer from the Hotel to Atocha Train station for a high-speed train trip to Cordoba (1 hr, 45 min).
After arrival and free time for lunch, visit the Mezquita (Great Mosque), which embodies the power of Islam on the Iberian Peninsula. Dating to the 8th century, the Mezquita evolved over centuries, with many additions and elaborations, especially in the 10th century (under Hakam II) and during the 16th century, when the cathedral with an Italianate dome was built in the heart of the reconstructed mosque. Continue with a stroll through the Juderia or Jewish quarter to visit the Old Synagogue. Finish with a visit to the gardens of the Alcázar (fortress) of the Christian Monarchs.
Morning transfer to Seville.
Seville is the fourth-largest city in Spain and capital of Andalusia. Located on the banks of the Guadalquivir River, Seville is a spectacularly beautiful city combining fascinating vestiges of Moorish culture, medieval and baroque Christian monuments, grandiose remnants of the 1929 Exposición Iberoamericana with a thriving modern industrial urban centre.
This afternoon explore the historical heart of Seville with a walking tour of the Santa Cruz quarter. As the Jewish district in the Middle Ages, it benefited from the protection of the Crown after the reconquest, but at the end of the 14th century it was taken over by the Christians who converted the synagogues into churches. Visit the immense 15th century Gothic Cathedral and admire La Giralda, originally a minaret which became the Cathedral belfry, housing the tomb of Christopher Columbus.
Visit the 13th century Torre del Oro (‘Tower of Gold’), which formed part of the Moorish walled defences of the city. Also see the 18th century bull-ring, Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza.
Join Brian for a talk, followed by a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts with an important collection of predominantly religious art from the Spanish Golden Age, including works by leading artists, Zurbaran, Murillo and Ribera, as well as works by late 18th/early 19th century artist, Goya.
Afternoon at leisure.
This evening you will have the opportunity to enjoy a Flamenco performance in one of the renowned tablao in Seville.
Morning tour of the Real Alcazar, the royal residence dating from 1364. The ornate Moorish-inspired rooms are decorated with complex patterned tile and plasterwork, complemented by extravagant gardens laid out with terraces, fountains and pavilions in diverse styles, including French, Italian and Arab.
Afternoon at leisure to further explore Seville on your own. You may wish to visit the Archive of the Indies, which illustrates Seville’s role in the colonisation of the New World. Included in the exhibition are over 8,000 hand-drawn maps and charts as well as letters from Christopher Columbus, Magellan and Cortes.
Morning transfer to Ronda.
This little town high in the Serranía de Ronda Mountains is one of the oldest and most aristocratic places in Spain. Ronda’s near impregnable position kept the Catholic troops at bay until 1485. The main attraction is a deep gorge, spanned by three bridges over the Guadalevín River. On both sides of the gorge are houses clinging to the cliff that look as though they might plunge into the chasm at the slightest push.
This afternoon enjoy a walking tour in Ronda.
Today depart for Málaga. Founded by the Phoenicians as a colony some 3,000 years ago, Malaga has been ruled by the Romans, the Carthaginians and the Moors. Once considered the poor cousin of the Andalusian capital, Seville, Malaga now competes successfully for attention, thanks to its profusion of museums, delightful pedestrianised centre, trendy restaurants and stylish hotels.
This afternoon visit the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo in Málaga. The CAC Málaga has developed an innovative exhibition programme within Spain, inspired by the German “Kunsthaus”. According to this model, the Centre has been conceived of as a “House of Art”, dynamic and open to new trends and forms of expression in contemporary art.
After a morning talk by Brian, continue your exploration of Málaga with a walking tour including the Cathedral, La Manquita. After re-conquering Malaga from the Moors in 1487, the Catholic kings ordered a cathedral to be built over the original mosque. The construction was not finished until 1728, and the façade is mainly Renaissance in style. Next visit La Alcazaba, a military fortress build by the Moors in the 11th century, on the remains of a Romans fortress.
Continue to the Picasso Museum, housed in the Condes de Buenavista Palace, a building from the 16th century. The museum was created in response to Pablo Picasso’s own desire for his work to be present in the city where he was born in 1881.
Afternoon at leisure.
Departure for Granada.
First occupied by the Moors in the 8th century, Granada reached a Golden Age under the Nazarid Dynasty (1238-1492). Following the end of the reconquista in 1492, Granada blossomed in full Renaissance splendour.
This afternoon begin your exploration of Granada with a tour of the magnificent Granada Cathedral and the Royal Chapel, both built in the early 16th century on the orders of the Catholic Monarchs to herald the return of Christianity. The Gothic style Royal Chapel was completed in 1517 and served as a royal mausoleum. The Catholic Monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand, and their immediate successors, are buried under magnificently sculpted Renaissance marble tombs.
Join Brian for a talk before visiting the Alhambra (red fortress) occupying a dramatic hilltop position overlooking the city of Granada. Built in the 14th century by the Sultans of the Nazarid, the Alhambra was the last Moorish stronghold in Spain until 1492. Designed to reflect the very beauty of Paradise itself, the Alhambra comprises gardens, fountains, streams, a palace and a mosque, all within an imposing fortress wall, flanked by 13 massive towers.
After a lunch at a local restaurant, continue to the 14th century Generalife (‘the garden of lofty paradise’), the country estate of the Nazarid rulers and one of the oldest surviving Moorish gardens in the world. The Generalife features the Water-Garden Courtyard, thought to best preserve medieval garden design in Al-Andalus.
Today visit the Fundación Rodríguez Acosta, housed in a typical Granadino carmen (private villa) built in 1930s modernist style. The villa includes an art gallery, archaeological findings and a library collected by the Granada-born scholar Manuel Gómez-Moreno Martínez. Cypress hedges and garden ornaments provide the framework for a traditional enclosed garden comprising several terraces overlooking Granada’s fertile plain and to the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
After an afternoon at leisure, celebrate the conclusion of the tour with a special farewell dinner.
If returning to Australia today, make your way to Granada Airport for a short flight to Madrid, connecting with Emirates/Qantas flights to Australia via Dubai. Arrival in Australia on the evening of Saturday 7th (or morning of Monday 8th, depending on destination).
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.
Final payment due
21 July 2017
Please see booking conditions for fitness level definitions.
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.
Australian and New Zealand passport holders do not require a visa for Spain.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in centrally located four and five star hotels with private facilities and daily breakfast (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L=Lunch, D=Dinner, R=Reception). Wines with meals
- Comprehensive sightseeing, including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Lectures and talks with your tour leader throughout
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours for assistance)
- Transfer on arrival and departure
- Items of a personal nature, including telephone, laundry, taxis, room service etc.
- Travel insurance
Madrid – NH Collection Prado
Córdoba – NH Collection Amistad
Sevilla – Gran Meliá Colon
Ronda – Parador
Málaga – Molina Lario Hotel
Granada – Palacio de Santa Paula
NB. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted
06–10 October 2017 (5 days)
Fri 06 Oct 2017 / Granada – Barcelona
In the morning, transfer to Granada airport for the Vueling airline flight VY2011 departing Granada at 09.05 to Barcelona. (PLEASE NOTE: Flight VY2011 is not included in tour cost, please ensure this flight segment is included with your international airfare)
After lunch, start your exploration of Barcelona with a panoramic coach tour of the city, which will introduce you to many precincts, including the famous boulevard Las Ramblas, Vila Olímpica, Port Vell, the Monument to Colón (Columbus) and Eixample (the Art Nouveau quarter).
Visit the Fundació Joan Miró (1893-1983) situated on a hill overlooking the city, to view paintings, graphics and ceramic artworks by the internationally renowned abstract artist, who was born in Barcelona.
Sat 07 Oct / Barcelona
Join Brian for a talk about the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, Catalan artists Joan Miró and Salvador Dali, and Pablo Picasso, who in his youth lived in Barcelona.
A morning walking tour will take you into the heart of the Barri Gotic district, where much of the city’s historic architecture is contained within a few blocks, including the Cathedral, Palau de la Generalitat and Casa de la Ciutat.
Lunch is at a local restaurant.
Visit the celebrated Picasso Museum, dedicated to the towering genius of twentieth century art, Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). This modern museum is housed in five Catalan-Gothic palazzos dating from the 13th and 14th centuries, located in the Barri Gotic.
Tonight you may wish to attend a concert at the Palau del la Música, an exceptional Art Nouveau theatre (optional, not included in tour cost).
Sun 08 Oct / Barcelona
The focus today is Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926), Spain’s most celebrated architect and his masterworks. Begin the day with a coach trip to Park Guell to explore a fanciful park designed by Gaudi as an innovative garden suburb for the bourgeoisie.
Continue on to visit Gaudi’s greatest work, the massive unfinished Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, a Catholic church under construction since 1882.
In the afternoon visit Casa Milà, known locally as La Pedrera (Catalan for quarry).
Mon 09 Oct / Barcelona – Girona – Barcelona
Enjoy a full-day coach journey to the north east of Catalonia, to the province of Girona. Our destination is Figueres, the birthplace of the remarkable surrealist artist, Salvador Dalí (1904-1989). Visit the artist’s Teatre-Museu Gala Salvador Dalí, a museum designed by Dalí himself which houses aspects of his astonishing oeuvre, and in which the late artist and his wife Gala are buried.
Return via the provincial capital of Girona and enjoy a farewell lunch.
After lunch explore the city’s tight huddle of ancient arcades, grand churches, climbing cobbled streets, medieval baths and Catalonia’s most extensive and best preserved Call (medieval Jewish quarter), all enclosed by defensive walls.
Tue 10 Oct /Barcelona
Tour arrangements conclude after breakfast.
If returning to Australia today, make your way to Barcelona Airport for Emirates/Qantas flights to Australia via Dubai. Arrival in Australia on the evening of Thursday 11th (or morning of Friday 12th, depending on destination).