History is piled high in Andalucía. Moorish citadels sit on top of Roman mosaics, a 16th-century cathedral in the middle of a 10th-century mosque, and everywhere there is a sense of civilisation constantly renewing itself in the fierce Mediterranean sun. Our trip takes in the principal sites and galleries, and includes some of the most delicate and richly decorated monuments in Europe. Most exciting of all is the sense of cultural and artistic fusion with often staggeringly beautiful results. Among the most notable monuments are those produced during the short-lived Umayyad caliphate in Córdoba, and when the Muslim-ruled cities of Granada and Seville were withstanding the forces of the Christian kingdoms that eventually replaced them.
We begin at 4pm in our Málaga hotel, with the opening lecture, followed by an early-evening tour of the Museo Carmen Thyssen (19th- and early 20th-century Spanish art). Dinner together.
The morning starts in Andalucía’s best-preserved Moorish citadel, the Alcázar above Málaga, followed by the elegant Museo Picasso. Later, in Granada, we visit the Renaissance cathedral and the flamboyantly Gothic Capilla Real – final resting place of the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella. Second lecture at our hotel.
The day belongs to the Alhambra – jewel of Islamic al-Andalus – starting with the Palacios Nazaríes. Their delicate chambers and courtyards rank amongst Europe’s finest mediaeval monuments. We finish at the gardens of the Generalife, before returning to the hotel for our third lecture.
Drive to Córdoba. Under Islamic rule, the early-mediaeval caliphate was the richest and most cultured city in Europe, and we begin at the Madinat al-Zahra, the site of the caliph’s vast 10th-century palace. We continue to the extraordinary Mezquita mosque, which dwarfs the cathedral subsequently built inside.
Our second day in Córdoba includes visits to La Judería (the old Jewish Quarter), and the Alcázar – where Ferdinand and Isabella met Christopher Columbus in 1486. We finish with the extensive Roman collections at the Museo Arqueológico, before transferring to Seville.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, Seville was the beating heart of the Spanish Empire. But its most beautiful monument is the Alcázar, built in the 14th century by Moorish architects for the Christian king, Pedro I. Other highlights of our visit include Spain’s largest Gothic cathedral, and an exquisite Mudéjar mansion, the Casa de Pilatos.
Our final morning is spent at the Museo de Bellas Artes – second only to the Prado in Spain, and home to works by El Greco, Velázquez, Murillo and Goya. The trip ends back at the hotel by 1pm.
Dr Philippa Joseph
Following a successful career in academic publishing in the humanities, for five years Philippa was reviews editor on the magazine History Today. She is now an independent lecturer and researcher, as well tutor in art history at the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education, as well as an occasional lecturer for other organizations, such as the V&A. Philippa’s research interests look broadly at the many societies and cultures that have made Andalucía, Sicily, and the rest of the Mediterranean basin, such rich and fascinating regions, leaving each with an exceptionally rich and diverse architectural and artistic legacy.
£1,645 per person sharing in a double room
£1,815 for one person in a double room
The price includes the speaker and a tour manager, accommodation with daily breakfasts, one dinner with wine, transport by private coach, admissions to sites as mentioned in the itinerary.
Please note flights are not included.
This trip is physically demanding. We will be on our feet for extended periods, walking over uneven ground and sometimes uphill. There are also four hotel changes.
Between 5 and 25 participants.
Please check www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice before you book to make sure you are happy with the advice for the places you are visiting.