A Memorable Adventure in Moorish Spain
Spectacular Moorish palaces and pretty white-washed streets are nestled amongst a rugged landscape of deep gorges and the dramatic Sierra Nevada mountains - the beauty of Andalucía is waiting to be explored.
We fly from London to Malaga arriving mid-afternoon for our transfer to Ronda and two nights at the 4-Star Catalonia Reina Victoria Hotel.
The town of Ronda is built upon a series of plateaus, with the town's buildings and houses seemingly built out of the rocks on which they stand. A monument frequently associated with Ronda is the magnificent Puente Nuevo, a tall bridge across the canyon, connecting historic Ronda with the new town. The dizzying heights of this bridge grant spectacular views across the rural landscape below, while from the grassy fields at the foot of the bridge, the bridge is as impressive as it is beautiful, with an enormous central arch flanked by two smaller ones. This bridge was built over the course of 40 years between 1751 and 1793, and still stands, alongside two other bridges, the Puente Romano and the Puente Árabe.
Today, we set out on a sightseeing tour of this, one of the oldest cities in Spain. We visit the beautiful Casa Bosco, with its terraced gardens, and the Puente Nuevo, and the historic bullring, the oldest in the country dating back more than 300 years. This afternoon is free for you to wander the labyrinthine streets. The Arabic Baths in the town are certainly worth visiting, and are considered some of the bestpreserved in Spain. Much of the buildings are still intact, despite their venerable old age stretching back into the 13th century. Given the importance of bath houses in ancient Moorish culture, these baths grant an excellent insight into the lives of Andlaucía's former rulers.
Today we catch the train to Cordoba in first class where we are picked up by our coach for a morning of sightseeing.
This beautiful city, once the largest metropolis in Western Europe, is worldrenowned for its magnifi cent mosque, or Mezquita, built in the 8th century, and re-consecrated as a cathedral in the 13th century. The Mezquita is set in the Old Town of Cordoba, a labyrinthine collection of medieval streets, which also contain the beautiful Roman Bridge and the fascinating Jewish Quarter. Alongside these notable sights, one of the attractions of Cordoba is that each street yields a new building from a different period, each with its own story and unique architectural design. Later, we continue to Seville where we transfer to the 4-Star Hotel Becquer before dinner in a local restaurant.
We take a tour today that includes the historic whitewashed streets of Seville's Santa Cruz area and the amazing Gothic cathedral.
The Santa Cruz area of the city is a delight to explore, characterised by its intricate streets, its pretty squares and its ancient churches. It was in fact, the old Jewish quarter of the city until the Jewish populace was expelled in the 15th century. Many of the streets from this time still exist, as do the buildings which lean over the narrow streets. The Cathedral of Seville is found near this area and is a wonderful example of religious architecture. Originally the grand mosque, the new cathedral was rebuilt to reflect the wealth of the city and the church at the time. True to the aim, the cathedral is truly striking, both inside and out.
Another highlight is the Plaza de España. Set amidst the lush greenery of the Parque de María Luisa,this impressive square was built for the Ibero-American Exposition in 1929. Utilising architectural styles from through the city's history, this beautifully ornate plaza with its enormous decorated building has seen processions, demonstrations and festivals during its time as a public space. Be sure to see the small alcoves, each one based on a different region of Spain.
Today takes us by rail to beautiful Granada where we stay at the 4-Star Melia Granada. Granada was once the stronghold for the Islamic kings of Moorish Spain, and since then has seen a variety of different cultures on its sunny streets.
We enjoy a guided walk around the Albayzin on Day 6. A UNESCO World Heritage site built on a hill opposite the world famous Alhambra, we tour this ancient Moorish quarter of the city. Built on a series of short hills, this district has changed hands many times and sees ancient Moorish gardens and mosques brush shoulders with churches and convents. Given this area's position above the bustling streets, there are several superb viewpoints from which we can gaze across the city, and up at the Alhambra fortress.
After lunch we return to the historic Old Town where you can continue exploring independently. Here, you can see the cathedral of Santa María de la Encarnación and the Royal Chapter.
Of all Spain's many historical monuments, the Alhambra is surely the most celebrated and iconic. We devote this morning to exploring this fantastic 14th century monument, once described by Moorish poets as 'a pearl set amongst emeralds'. Here, we see the stunning Moorish architecture of the Alhambra, as well as its beautiful landscaped gardens and courtyards.
The oldest part of the Alhambra is found at its core, an old citadel which has been restored to much of its former glory. As the years went on, several extra sections were added by various ruling parties. The Royal Complex was built by the Moorish kings, and echoes the resplendent grandeur of that age with highly decorative patios and open spaces.
The Palace of Charles V is a highlight, with its enormous faux-Roman courtyard and its Renaissance façade. The more adventurous may wish to ascend the battlements for a superb view across the city and the basin in which Granada is sat. For a more relaxed experience, the Court of Lions offers a tranquil side to the Alhambra as do the extensive gardens which provide a cool refuge from the hot Spanish sun.
Adorned by all manner of flowers and dotted by babbling fountains, the Generalife gardens are a delight to lose oneself in. Proudly displaying flowers and lush greenery, this small oasis of calm has been flowering in the Alhambra for hundreds of years.
Later, we enjoy a wonderful farewell dinner together at Las Tomasas, in the Albayzin overlooking the Alhambra. Lit up by floodlights against the deep greens of the hills behind it, the Alhambra is simply spectacular, brooding high above the vibrant streets of Granada in the evening. We enjoy traditional Spanish food at this restaurant, against the finest backdrop anyone could ask for.
Our flight home is on Day 8. On arrival back in London, our tour concludes.
Please note that while every departure of this tour features the same excursions, they may not necessarily be in the order listed above.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
A Memorable Adventure in Moorish Spain