Moorish Spain

  • Spend time wandering around the beautiful Alcázar of Seville, with its rich Islamic artistic legacy
  • Discover the magnificent Alhambra palace and fortress complex
  • Enjoy a taste of authenticity with a traditional flamenco performance

For over 500 years, Moorish Spain – 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 Cordoba as ‘the ornament of the world’, so in awe were they of its sophistication.

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. 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 to land on the moon – stems from Al-Andalus.

Itinerary 2019

Day 1

Upon arrival into Málaga, transfer to the hotel in Ronda. In the evening, we have an introductory lecture followed by dinner as a group.

Hotels: Reina Victoria, Ronda
Meals: Dinner included

Day 2

In the morning, we head out for an exciting exploration of Moorish Ronda, taking in the city walls, the Moorish Bath House and the Casa del Rey Moro, which was built in the 18th century. Here, we see an Islamic stairway of over 300 steps carved into the rock that lead down to a river at the bottom of the gorge. This structure allowed Ronda’s water supplies to remain available during attacks. In the afternoon, we drive to Córdoba, where we stay overnight.

Hotels: NH Amistad, Córdoba
Meals: All meals included

Day 3

A leisurely stroll through the old city gets our day off to a glorious start. We take in the outside of the Great Mosque, the Convivencia Museum, the bridge and finally the remains of the Moorish water wheel. Situated next to a Roman bridge, this wheel was once used to carry river water up to the Emir’s palace. In the afternoon, we are treated to a tour of the Great Mosque’s stunning interior and iconic archways. 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.’

Hotels: NH Amistad, Córdoba
Meals: All meals included

Day 4

Today, we take a walk around the Jewish quarter, stopping off first at the famous Averroes statue. We then visit the old synagogue and Jewish House before moving on to the spectacular Alcázar. In the afternoon, we visit the impressive ruins of a fortified Arab Muslim medieval palace city known as Madinat al-Zahra (Medina Azahara), ‘the shining city’, and have a tour of the site, which is located to the west of Córdoba. We then travel onwards to Seville, where we stay for the night.

Hotels: Inglaterra, Seville
Meals: All meals included

Day 5

In the morning, we visit the legendary Alcázar, a spectacular Moorish style royal palace built by a Christian king at the same time that the 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, which is a dodecagonal military watchtower that served as a prison during the Middle Ages. Later, we take a tour of the cathedral, which was built on the site of the old Almohad Mosque, and we climb the Giralda Tower, previously known as the Almohad minaret, which is now a bell tower. In the evening, we experience an authentic taste of the ancient culture here with a flamboyant Flamenco show.

Hotels: Inglaterra, Seville
Meals: All meals included

Day 6

Our day starts with a journey to Granada and upon arrival, in the afternoon, we pay a visit to the magnificent Alhambra palace and fortress complex. Built towards the end of the Moorish rule of Spain, poets described this structure as “a pearl set in emeralds,” an obvious allusion to the colour of its buildings and the woods that surround them. As part of our tour of the iconic Alhambra, we also spend some time at the adjoining Generalife Palace – the summer residence and country estate of the Nasrid Kings. The gardens here are especially beautiful.

Hotels: Hotel Melia, Granada
Meals: All meals included

Day 7

We spend our penultimate day exploring more of this region’s wonderful sites. We begin at Carmen de los Mártires, situated behind the Alhambra and where Christian captives were held during the battle for Granada. Here, we see its spectacular gardens and admire views over the Sierra Nevada mountains. After lunch, we visit the Corral del Carbon – the oldest Moorish monument in Granada. Built in the 14th century by Yusuf I, it served as a coal yard and warehouse. Finally, we tour the cathedral, whose Royal Chapel is the final resting place of Ferdinand and Isabella, who conquered Granada and brought Moorish Spain to an end. In the evening, we enjoy a traditional Moorish dinner.

Hotels: Hotel Melia, Granada
Meals: All meals included

Day 8

We take a stroll around the old Moorish quarter of Albaicín, walking up to the Mirador de San Nicolás, where we look towards the Alhambra. We then head for Málaga Airport, from where we catch our individual flights home or onward travel.

Meals: Breakfast included

What's Included

  1. Tour Manager & Guide Lecturer
  2. Meals - Most meals included
  3. Transport - Return flights (UK only) & all local travel
  4. Hand-picked hotels throughout the tour

Shining light on the Dark Ages

The Medieval era was filled with breathtaking artistic achievement spurred on by tremendous religious faith. Alongside the beauty, life could be coarse and cruel; cut short by famine, disease or the religious zeal that spurred on wars that still echo today.

This era is one of the most intriguing yet misrepresented periods of history. Did people really think the world was flat? No, that enduring myth was created by a 19th-century American journalist. Were witches put on trial and burnt at the stake? Yes, but you’d have to wait for the refined Renaissance period to bear witness to that. Travel alongside an expert guide lecturer, and separate fact from fiction in this fascinating period.

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