Salamanca. Fly at c. 10.50am from London Gatwick to Madrid (Iberia Airlines). Continue by coach for the first of two nights in Salamanca.
Salamanca. Distinguished by the honey-coloured hue of its stone, Salamanca is one of the most attractive cities in Spain and home to its most prestigious university. See the magnificent 16th-century Gothic ‘New Cathedral’ and austere Romanesque ‘Old Cathedral’, the 18th-century Plaza Mayor and superb, elaborate Plateresque sculpture on the façades of the university and church of San Esteban. The University has 15th- and 16th-century quadrangles, arcaded courtyards and original lecture halls. The Convento de las Dueñas has a Plateresque portal and an irregular, two-tiered cloister.
Tordesillas, Valladolid, Burgos. The convent of Tordesillas, spectacular combinations of Islamic and Netherlandish artistic traditions, was once the palace of Pedro the Cruel and his lover, Maria de Padilla. The Colegio de San Gregorio, now the National Museum of Sculpture, with Gil de Siloé’s intricately carved stone portal houses works by all the great Renaissance masters including Berruguete. Continue to Burgos for the first of two nights.
Burgos. Burgos was the early capital of Castile, whose cathedral combines French and German Gothic styles and has remarkable vaults and 16th-century choir stalls. On the outskirts is the convent of Las Huelgas Reales with its important early Gothic church while the charterhouse of Miraflores has superb sculpture by Gil de Siloé.
Lerma, Santo Domingo de Silos, Segovia. The village of Lerma has a wealth of buildings from the early 17th century including an arcaded main square with ducal palace and the Collegiate church of San Pedro. Santo Domingo de Silos has the finest Romanesque monastery in Spain, outstanding for the sculpture of the 12th-century cloister. Segovia is one of the loveliest cities in Spain and architecturally one of the most richly endowed. First of two nights in Segovia.
Segovia. Straddling the town, the remarkable Roman aqueduct is one of the biggest in Europe. See also the Monasterio de El Parral with Gothic nave and splendid carvings, the cathedral, a soaring Gothic structure, and the restored Alcázar (castle), dramatically perched at the prow of the hill. Afternoon excursion to La Granja de San Ildefonso, the palace constructed for Philip V in the early 18th century, with magnificent formal gardens. Return to the city via the Monastery of San Antonio el Real, with fine wooden Mudéjar coffering.
El Escorial. This vast retreat-cum-palace-cum-monastery-cum-pantheon was built from 1563 to 1584 for Philip II, successfully embodying his instructions for ‘nobility without arrogance, majesty without ostentation, severity in the whole’. Continue to Madrid airport for the flight to London Gatwick, arriving c. 8.00pm.
Price, per person
Two sharing: £2,170 or £2,050 without flights. Single occupancy: £2,410 or £2,290 without flights.
Flights (economy class) with Iberia (aircraft: Airbus A320 & A321); travel by private coach; hotel accommodation as described below; breakfasts, 5 dinners with wine or beer, soft drinks, water and coffee; all admissions; all tips for waiters, drivers and guides; all state and airport taxes; the services of the lecturer, tour manager and local guides.
NH Palacio de Castellanos: attractive 4-star hotel in a converted palace, close to the Cathedrals and other key sites. NH Palacio de la Merced, Burgos: 4-star hotel in a converted palace. Hotel Real, Segovia: a well-located 4-star hotel, between the cathedral and Roman aqueduct. Single rooms are doubles for sole use throughout.
This tour involves walking in town centres, some of it on cobbled streets and uphill. It should not be undertaken by anyone who has difficulty with everyday walking and stairclimbing. Average distance by coach per day: 77 miles. Dinners tend to be at 8.30 or 9.00pm in Spain, so you might get to bed later than you would usually.
Between 10 and 22 participants.
Before booking, please refer to the FCO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting: www.fco.gov.uk.