Historical journeys in 'lesser known' western Spain, central Spain and Aragón...







Vía de la Plata... from Zafra to Zamora

A journey through lesser known western Spain - history and nature - small international guided group

Exploration of western Spain: ham, cheese and wine... fabulous Roman remains... castles, 'plazas mayores'... Visigothic, Mozarabic, Romanesque, Mudéjar, Gothic and Manueline churches and monasteries... fortified cities of the Conquistadores... picturesque villages and mountain traditions... the wonderful landscapes of the Ambroz and Tajo valleys, Las Hurdes, Las Batuecas and the Sierras de Gata, Béjar, Francia and Gredos...

TWO WEEKS Activities: discovery of Western Spain with a variety of historical and nature visits; 9 days with short walks (1h30-3h30 a day). Group 10 maximum.

FULL BOARD
in hotels in rooms for two (private bathrooms) EXCEPT five meals which are not included.

DATES (Sunday-Sunday)

2017 available for group bookings at dates to be agreed.

PRICE
on demand, depending on group size.

RENDEZVOUS
Seville, in the afternoon - choose a flight / train arriving before 16.30.
DISPERSAL Seville, in the late morning - flight departing after 14.00 / train after 12.00.
Seville airport is well served by international flights, or fly to Madrid and take the AVE high-speed train to Santa Justa station.
If you wish to arrive one or more days beforehand to visit Seville, we recommend an hotel in the Barrio de Santa Cruz, close to the Cathedral, Giralda and Alcázares (double room 75-95 / single 45-60 euros a night; we can make the booking for you and will pick you up at the hotel).

Location of this programme:

DAY-TO-DAY
SUNDAY: Transfer from Seville to Zafra, where the whitewashed houses suggest an Andalusian town, but with some very 'extremeño' features like a castle and two 'plazas porticadas'. We stay two nights in a hotel situated on the plaza Grande.

MONDAY: A short drive brings us to Feria, with its pretty square and ducal castle. We ramble in the area of the village before continuing to Burguillos del Cerro, with outstanding Templar and baroque churches.

TUESDAY: The Visigothic chapel at Alcuéscar, Cáceres city, Garrovillas (quaint plaza mayor with its arcades all askew), and the Monastery of El Palancar, the world's smallest. Night at Alcántara, with an awe-inspiring Roman bridge.

WEDNESDAY: Gata and its sierra, a walk from the granite village terraces to the Castillo de la Almenara. We pass through the Hurdes bajas to arrive at the tiny slate-built hamlet of Riomalo de Abajo, where we spend five nights.

THURSDAY: The high valleys of the Hurdes altas, traditionally the poorest part of Spain.

FRIDAY: The marvellous scenery of Las Batuecas, said by Buñuel to be one of the few earthly paradises he had found, and the Peña de Francia, a quartzite spike of 1732 m/5683 ft, topped by a monastery, and the charming villages of the Sierra de Francia.

SATURDAY: The Roman ruins of Cáparra and the high mountain scenery of the Sierra de Béjar with the unique village of Candelario. Afternoon ramble on the Vía de la Plata.

SUNDAY: Departure on foot for the Meander of the río Alagón.

MONDAY: We explore the ancient University city of Salamanca and the delightful small town of Toro (where we stay) which has its own denominación de origen for red wine.

TUESDAY: The granary of Castile: the Tierra del Pan and Tierra de Campos, with Romanesque Zamora city and rural Visigothic and Mozarabic churches. Second night at Toro.

WEDNESDAY: Two impressive mudéjar monuments, Pedro El Cruel's palace at Tordesillas and the Catholic Kings' castle at Medina del Campo. A short visit to the walled city of Avila, then south over the Sierra de Gredos to Trujillo, birthplace of Conquistadores, whose alleys are lined with fortified noble houses in pink granite. Three nights in an hotel in the old city.

THURSDAY: Monfragüe Natural Park, in the Tajo valley: a very important nature reserve, with big colonies of griffon and black vultures as well as other raptors and black storks.

FRIDAY: A day in the Sierra de Guadalupe, including a short walk and a visit to the famous mudéjar-gothic monastery.

SATURDAY: We visit Mérida, capital of Roman Hispania Lusitanica and now of the autonomous region of Extremadura. Walk at Cornalvo, a Roman reservoir! Last night at Zafra.

SUNDAY: Transfer to Seville.

Aragón y Ebro / Júcar-Duero-Mancha / Extremadura (walking)
Two centre discovery: Ciudad Rodrigo & Arribes del Duero / Ruta del Oro / Extremaduran Kaleidoscope
Discovery weeks: Almagro-La Mancha-Toledo / Berlanga-Soria / Uncastillo-pre-Pyrenees / Jaén
Candás and the Costa Verde / Liérganes-Santander
Summer/autumn flamenco nights
(Granada-Jerez) / Xmas 2017 at Cordoba / New Year 17-18 at Trujillo
walking: Albarracín-Cuenca-Teruel / La Rioja / Old Castile / East Andalusia / Mar y Sierra: West Andalusia
nature rambles / Festivals–Andalusia / Festival–Almagro / for groups, families, friends
Holiday index+calendar / Introduction in English / How to book / e-mail us





Júcar, Duero, Mancha

A journey through lesser known central Spain - In the land of El Cid, Al-Mansur and Don Quijote - small international guided group

Sierras, lakes, karst landscapes; rural traditions; culture from prehistory to the Renaissance... and that unique Spanish phenomenon, the Mudéjar.


TWO WEEKS Activities: discovery of Central Spain with a variety of historical and nature visits; 7 days with short walks (1-4 hours a day). Group 10 maximum.

FULL BOARD
in hotels in rooms for two (private bathrooms) EXCEPT four meals (dinner at Cuenca and Avila, lunch at Teruel and Soria) which are not included.


DATES (Sunday-Sunday)
2017 available for group bookings at dates to be agreed.

PRICE
on demand, depending on group size.

RENDEZVOUS
Málaga, in the early afternoon - choose a flight arriving before 13.00.
DISPERSAL Málaga, in the morning - choose a flight departing after 12.30.

Location of this programme:

DAY-TO-DAY
SUNDAY: From Málaga, the Renaissance route via Baeza or Sabiote to Alcaraz (two nights), birthplace of the celebrated Renaissance architect Vandelvira.

MONDAY: A relaxing day with two short walks to see the source of the Río Mundo and in the Sierra de Alcaraz, as well as time to visit the superb main square of Alcaraz.

TUESDAY: Jorquera and Alcalá del Júcar, Moorish strongholds bordering the gorges of the río Júcar. Via the Roman site of Valera (gigantic nymphaeum) to Cuenca, the old city perched over a vertiginous meander of the river, for a visit and overnight.

WEDNESDAY: The Serranía de Cuenca on foot and by 4WD: the karst formations of Las Torcas, immense dolines, and La Ciudad Encantada [the Enchanted City], weirdly shaped boulders; the source of the río Cuervo and the lake of El Tobar. Via the stark landscapes and windswept villages of the Montes Universales to Albarracín (3 nights).

THURSDAY: Departure on foot for the Parque Cultural del Rodeno de Albarracín: unusual sandstone scenery, with caverns decorated with prehistoric paintings. Exploration of Albarracín and evening in its romantic mediaeval quarter.

FRIDAY: Visits to the rock-built castle of Peracense and to the city of Teruel, to admire its elegant Mudéjar towers and the cathedral's artesonado.

SATURDAY: The valley of the río Jiloca, in search of the Mudéjar rural art of lower Aragón. The Cistercian monastery of Santa María de Huerta. The exceptional Mozarabic Ermita de San Baudelio. Arrival at Berlanga (4 nights).

SUNDAY: Morning walk at the troglodyte Celtiberian-Roman site of Tiermes, then the village of Caracena (two Romanesque churches) and the Moorish fortress of Gormaz.

MONDAY: After visiting Sigüenza with its magnificent cathedral we continue via Imón, Spain's biggest inland saltpans, to Atienza, the Sierra de Pela and the Románico rural.

TUESDAY: Numancia, scene of the Celtiberians' last resistance to the Romans, and Soria, surrounded by the high windy plateaux of the meseta, so passionately described by Antonio Machado in "Campos de Castilla". The fabulous Mediaeval village of Calatañazor (walk in the páramo, habitat of numerous vultures).

WEDNESDAY: Peñaranda (Renaissance palace on the plaza mayor with wonderful artesonado ceilings), the amazingly narrow Yecla gorge, Visigothic Quintanilla de las Viñas, quaint Covarrubias and the superb cloister of Silos monastery. Night at Sepúlveda, in one of the most important Romanesque areas of north-central Spain.

THURSDAY: A walk in the Rio Duratón gorges, then the apogee of Mudéjar brick architecture in Castile: Coca castle. Exploration of the walled city of Avila (1 night here).

FRIDAY: We cross the Sierra de Guadarrama to reach La Mancha with the Quijotesque mills and Crusader castle of Consuegra. A stroll in Almagro, known for its Plaza Mayor, its Renaissance theatre 'El Corral de Comedias' and its lace. Night at Almagro.

SATURDAY: Visit of the castle-monastery of the Order of Calatrava, then we cross the Valle de Alcudia, where herds of transhumant sheep still pasture, and the Sierra Madrona (rock shelter paintings). Last night at Antequera.

SUNDAY: Transfer to Málaga.

Vía de la Plata / Aragón y Ebro / walking: Old Castile / Albarracín-Cuenca-Teruel / La Rioja
Discovery weeks: Almagro-La Mancha-Toledo / Berlanga-Soria / Uncastillo-pre-Pyrenees / Jaén
Candás-Costa Verde / Liérganes-Santander
Two centre discovery: Ciudad Rodrigo & Arribes del Duero / Ruta del Oro / Extremaduran Kaleidoscope
Summer/autumn flamenco nights (Granada-Jerez) / Xmas 2017 at Cordoba / New Year 17-18 at Trujillo
Extremadura (walking) / walking: Andalusia / nature rambles / Festivals / for groups, families, friends
Holiday index+calendar
/ Introduction in English / How to book / e-mail us




Aragón y Ebro

Northern Spain - from the green Pyrenean valleys to the sunbaked Bardenas desert - small international guided group

Art from the Celtiberians and Romans to Goya... Mozarabic, Romanesque and Mudéjar churches, castles and monasteries... monumental Zaragoza and a splendid collection of small towns and villages... the snowcapped Pyrenees, the rolling verdant foothills and the parched Ebro depression.


TWO WEEKS Activities: discovery of Aragón and southeast Navarra, with a variety of historical and nature visits; 10 days with short walks (1-4 hours a day). Group 10 maximum.

FULL BOARD
in hotels in rooms for two (private bathrooms) EXCEPT four meals which are not included.

DATES (Sunday-Sunday)

2017 available for group bookings at dates to be agreed.

PRICE
on demand, depending on group size.


RENDEZVOUS Calatayud station. Calatayud is between Madrid and Zaragoza on both the conventional and the high speed (AVE) Madrid-Barcelona railway lines. Zaragoza also has direct trains to Hendaye-Irún and an international airport. Ask us for travel information.

DISPERSAL Zaragoza.


Location of this programme:

DAY-TO-DAY
SUNDAY: Leaving Calatayud at about 17.00, a short transfer takes us into a very important area for Mudéjar architecture, with the superb churches of Tobed and Mainar, and Daroca nestling inside its enormous walls, where we stay for the first night.

MONDAY: We start with the visit and wall-walk of Daroca, then move north to the Veruela monastery and Tarazona, dominated by the enormous mass of the Sierra de Moncayo. We cross the río Ebro for the first time to arrive at the Mudéjar churches of Tauste and then at Uncastillo (4 nights here).

TUESDAY: Exploration of the Roman sites of Los Bañales (short walk), as well as Uncastillo itself, a fortified town of the Cinco Villas.

WEDNESDAY: Via Sos, northernmost of the Cinco Villas, we find the Camino de Santiago, with the town of Sangüesa, Leyre monastery and a ramble through the historic Lumbier gorge with its numerous vultures.

THURSDAY: Walk in the curious Bardenas desert, then on to La Ribera, a horticultural region watered by the río Aragón, producing the well-known Navarran asparagus. We visit Artajona (stroll to see the dolmens) and the eagle's nest site of Ujué. Last night at Uncastillo.

FRIDAY: A walk near Luesia with spectacular views, then the mediaeval village of Biel, the Romanesque castle of Loarre and the natural 'castles' of the cliffs of Los Mallos de Agüero. Three nights at Hecho (Echo) in the Aragonese Pyrenees.

SATURDAY: The most northerly point on our route, the valley of Hecho and a trans-Pyrenean Roman road, now a branch of the Camino de Santiago.

SUNDAY: The 'cradle of Aragón': Santa Cruz de la Serós, San Juan de la Peña and the Mozarabic churches of Lárrede in the Tena valley (ramble to a very isolated church). Jaca city.

MONDAY: We explore the Ansó valley, then we leave the Pyrenees for Huesca city and the delightful village of Alquézar (2 nights).

TUESDAY: A relaxed day with a walk in the gorges round Alquézar and visit to its colegiata.

WEDNESDAY: Back to the Ebro and much drier landscapes. Monzón castle, the Laguna de la Playa salt lake, Rueda monastery and Celtiberian Azaila. Belchite, poignant reminder of the Civil war. Three nights at Muniesa.

THURSDAY: Exploration of the río Martín valley with a variety of visits and short walks.

FRIDAY: The Huerva and Aguasvivas valleys, and a visit to a bodega of the D.O. Cariñena which produces excellent red wines. Fuendetodos with Goya's house.

SATURDAY: Last day and night in Zaragoza, with the Alfajería Moorish palace, now the seat of the Aragonese parliament, important Roman remains and Mudéjar buildings.

SUNDAY: Morning dispersal at our hotel in Zaragoza.


Vía de la Plata / Júcar-Duero-Mancha
Discovery weeks: Uncastillo-pre-Pyrenees / Almagro-La Mancha-Toledo / Berlanga-Soria / Jaén
Candás-Costa Verde / Liérganes-Santander / Festival Almagro / Festivals–Andalusia
Two centre discovery: Ciudad Rodrigo & Arribes del Duero / Ruta del Oro / Extremaduran Kaleidoscope
Summer/autumn flamenco nights (Granada-Jerez) / Xmas 2017 at Cordoba / New Year 17-18 at Trujillo
walking: Andalusia / walking: Extremadura / walking: La Rioja / walking: Old Castile / nature rambles
for families or friends
/ Holiday index+calendar / Introduction in English / How to book / e-mail us