Beyond the Pillars of Hercules - The Golden Age of Spain

Curiosity for the unknown, religious fervour, and a lust for gold…

  • Explore the world of the Conquistadors when the Spanish empire was at its zenith
  • Visit Muelle de Carabelas and climb aboard replicas of Columbus’ ships
  • Enjoy an afternoon at the magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Site of El Escorial

In the late 15th century, Spain saw a period of cultural flourishing unprecedented in the country’s history. This was Spain’s Golden Age, a key moment in modern history which saw Europe expand rapidly beyond its narrow confines, laying the foundations for today’s Western world. The arrival of this Golden Age was heralded not at home, but across the sea — by Columbus’ discovery of the New World and the subsequent domination of Central and Southern America by the Conquistadors. But in Spain itself, driven citizens seized on the opportunities of their country’s expanding fortunes to create the world’s first trans-global empire, decimating the peoples and civilisations that they found in their way.

The ‘Pillars of Hercules’ were the gateway to this era of discovery — the Rock of Gibraltar as the northern pillar, and Morocco’s Jebel Musa its southern brother. ‘Plus Ultra’ — ‘Further Beyond’ — was the motto inspiring this generation of adventurers. Today, the stories of Conquistadors Hernán Cortés, Francisco Pizarro, Inés de Suarez, and more, live on. Their extraordinary tales, filled with daring, violence, and often spectacular success, still resonate. Encapsulated in the impress of the Spanish King, Charles I, the image of the pillars and the accompanying motto persevere to this day in the Spanish Coat of Arms. Join us as we explore the lands that produced these great Spanish adventurers; discover the culture that inspired them, and examine how their legacy echoes still.


  • All InclusiveAll Inclusive

Itinerary 2017

Day 1


We fly into Seville in the afternoon, check into our hotel and have an introductory talk before dinner.

Day 2

Ships from America

We spend the day in Seville: visiting the Maritime Museum at Torre de Oro, by the riverside where ships from the Americas used to dock; the Archivo General de las Indias; the Cathedral which is home to Columbus’ tomb, and the Giralda Tower.

Day 3

Columbus’ First Voyage

We make our way to Palos, near Huelva — the departure site of Columbus’ first voyage. We visit the Monasterio de Santa Maria de la Rabida, and the Muelle de Carabelas, where we see replicas of Columbus’ ships and the Columbus monument. We continue to the parador at nearby Mazagón.

Day 4

Pacific Discoveries

We explore Jerez de los Caballeros this morning, the birthplace of Vasco Núñez de Balboa, discoverer of the Pacific. We stop at the local museum, before travelling on to Zafra parador, where Hernán Cortés once stayed.

Day 5

Palatial Renaissance

We make our way to Trujillo, the birthplace of Pizarro and Orellana, conquerors of Peru. We enjoy a walking tour, taking in the Plaza Major and exploring the many churches and magnificent Renaissance palaces.

Day 6

The Conquests of America

We travel to Guadalupe, the spiritual home of the conquests of America. We visit the monastery where Ferdinand and Isabel gave Columbus the green light, and where he returned with Indian natives upon his return. The Virgin of Guadalupe is patron of all the Americas. We move on to Madrid, stopping en route at Oropesa, the birthplace of Rodrigo Orgónez, one of the conquerors of Peru.

Day 7

New World Wealth

In the morning, we visit the Museo de America and the Museo Naval. After lunch, we continue to El Escorial — Philip II’s gigantic palace built with the wealth of the New World, and architectural symbol of the Spanish Golden Age.

Day 8


We explore ‘Columbus Square’ in Madrid, with monuments to Columbus and the Age of Discovery, and visit Madrid’s Royal Palace. After lunch, we transfer to the airport for our return home.

What's Included

  1. Tour Manager
  2. Flights - London to Seville, Madrid to London
  3. Meals - All meals included with wine at lunch and dinner
  4. Hotels - 7 nights in 4* hotels in Seville, Mazagon, Zafra, Trujillo and Madrid

Cultural rebirth on a global scale

The Renaissance stands as one of the defining periods of world history. A time when the perceptions of society, culture and politics - which we still cling onto - emerged for the first time. Could any other era ever compare with the rich Renaissance of art, architecture, literature, science, trade, and travel?

No period has been more discussed, dissected and argued over than the Renaissance - and with good reason. Join us to discover the land of La Convivencia, where followers of the world’s three main religions lived harmoniously side by side. Go back to where it all began with an introduction to Art, Love & War in the Renaissance. Get an insider’s guide to ancient Persia, as we look into the Mirrors of the Unseen. Go Beyond the Pillars of Hercules to discover the golden age of Spain. Uncover the hidden history of the Loire Châteaux, with a glass of the good stuff in hand.

Travelling alongside our expert guides you’ll be afforded unprecedented access to an unmatched world of cultural experimentation and intellectual excitement. There is still so much for us to learn from this unprecedented era…

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