Andalus: Moorish Spain

"To Cordoba belong all the beauty and ornaments that delight the eye or dazzle the sight. Her long line of Sultans form her crown of glory; her necklace is strung with the pearls which her poets have gathered from the ocean of language; her dress is of the banners of learning, well-knit together by her men of science; and the masters of every art and industry are the hem of her garments."

— Stanley Lane-Poole, The Moors in Spain

  • Explore five hundred years of Spanish history through palaces, fortresses, gardens, art, literature and cuisine
  • Visit four of the most beautiful cities at the heart of Moorish Spain: Ronda, Cordoba, Seville and Granada
  • Led by Jason Webster, writer and historian, Arabic and Spanish speaker, and author of Andalus – Unlocking the secrets of Moorish Spain
  • Guaranteed departure

For over five hundred years, Moorish Spain — or Al-Andalus — was the most culturally advanced corner of Europe, an engine-room of science, philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, poetry, architecture and agriculture that outstripped anything comparable within Christendom at the time.

German writers of the 10th century described Córdoba as ‘the ornament of the world’, so in awe were they of its sophistication. Gerbert, later Pope Sylvester II, travelled to Spain ‘in search of knowledge’, drawn by the superior Moorish civilisation that he found there. While London was still a collection of mud huts by the Thames, Moorish cities enjoyed street lighting and sanitation, and their inhabitants ate exotic foods such as artichokes, rice, spinach, oranges and saffron that were unknown north of the Pyrenees.

Writing on paper made at the only paper mills in the continent at the time, Moorish poets explored subtle, romantic ideas of love, inspired by ancient Arabian verses, that would later be termed ‘courtly’ in Medieval Europe. ‘Western rational thought’ was the brainchild of the Cordovan philosopher Averroes, developing Aristotle’s concepts and presenting them in easily understood commentaries that Christian scholars studied and absorbed. Much of what we consider part of our own cultural identity — anything from superstitions about the number ’13’ to the higher mathematics that helped men land on the moon — stems from Al-Andalus.

Itinerary 2018

Day 1

We fly to Malaga and drive to Ronda. In the evening, we have an introductory lecture followed by dinner.

Overnight: Ronda

Day 2

In the morning, we explore Moorish Ronda, taking in the city walls, the Moorish Bath House and the Casa del Rey Moro. In the afternoon, we drive to Cordoba.

Overnight: Córdoba

Day 3

In the morning, we enjoy a stroll through the old city, taking in the outside of the Great Mosque, the Convivencia museum, the bridge and the remains of the Moorish water wheel. In the afternoon, we have a tour of the Great Mosque. Building began in 784 under the Caliph, Abd al-Rahman, and continued for two centuries. At the heart of Córdoba, ‘the beauty of the mosque was so dazzling that it defied any description.’

Overnight: Córdoba

Day 4

In the morning, we walk to the Jewish quarter, stopping off at the Averroes statue. We visit the old synagogue and Jewish House before moving on to the spectacular Alcázar. In the afternoon, we visit Madinat al-Zahra (Medina Azahara), ‘the shining city’, and have a tour of the ruins of this vast, fortified Arab Muslim medieval palace-city to the west of Cordoba. We then travel to Seville.

Overnight: Seville

Day 5

In the morning, we visit the Alcázar, a spectacular Moorish style royal palace built by a Christian king at the same time that Alhambra was being constructed in Granada. We hear about the Islamic artistic legacy that survived the Reconquest and was continued by those Moors, the Mudejars, who remained in what became Christian lands. In the afternoon, we visit the Torre del Orro before touring the Cathedral, built on the site of the old Almohad Mosque, and climbing the Giralda Tower, previously the Almohad minaret, which is now a bell tower. In the evening, we enjoy a spectacular Flamenco show.

Overnight: Seville

Day 6

We drive to Granada and in the afternoon, we visit the spectacular Alhambra. Built towards the end of the Moorish rule of Spain, poets described it as "a pearl set in emeralds," an allusion to the colour of its buildings and the woods around them. As part of our tour of the Alhambra, we visit the adjoining Generalife Palace, the summer residence and country estate of the Nasrid Kings.

Overnight: Granada

Day 7

In the morning, we visit the Cathedral, whose Royal Chapel is the final resting place of Ferdinand and Isabella, who conquered Granada and brought Moorish Spain to an end. We also visit the Corral del Carbon, the oldest Moorish monument in Granada. Built in the fourteenth century by Yusuf I, it served as a coal yard and warehouse. In the afternoon, we visit the Carmen de los Mártires, behind the Alhambra, where Christian captives were held during the battle for Granada. We see the spectacular gardens and the lovely views over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. In the evening, we enjoy a Moorish dinner.

Overnight: Granada

Day 8

We have a stroll around the old Moorish quarter of Albaicín, walking up to the Mirador de San Nicolás, where we look towards the Alhambra — a favourite vista of ex US President, Bill Clinton. We then head for Malaga Airport to catch our return flight.

What's Included

  1. Expert Guide Lecturer
  2. Tour Manager
  3. Meals - All meals included with wine at lunch and dinner
  4. Hotels - 7 nights in 3/4* hotels in Ronda, Córdoba, Seville, and Granada
  5. Flights - Return flights London to Málaga

2018: Uncover Years Past in the Year to Come

What could you discover in 2018? Burnished Byzantine churches on sun-soaked Sicily; synagogues rubbing shoulders with monumental Moorish palaces in al-Andalus; or crusader castles and Great War camps in the Jordanian desert?

That's just for starters, of course — we'll also be charting the rise and fall of Italian Fascism, a century of troubles across the Irish Sea, and a young queen's royal progress through the English countryside; popping corks from the Loire Valley to the chalky slopes of Kent; and much more besides.

But perhaps the most exciting new addition to 2018 is our guarantee that each and every tour will depart, no matter the numbers. Whatever travel dreams your trip around our site inspires, you can rest assured they’ll become a reality.

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2018 Tour Details

  • 8 Days
  • 2nd May - 9th May 2018
  • with Jason Webster
  • Code: QMS18A
  • Available
  • ex. flights: £2,195
  • sgl supp: £235

Tour Guide