Castilla Leon

October 03 - 09 2011


This seven day tour is dedicated to the historic cities of Spain's vast central plateau, a region speaking eloquently of the peninsula’s turbulent past and the many cultures, Visigothic, Moorish, Jewish and Christian which have shaped its destiny. The walled city of Avila and Toledo, the ancient capital of Castilla will be our bases. From them we will visit royal Segovia, the exquisite University city of Salamanca, the intellectual hub of medieval and Renaissance Spain and the village of Pedraza, virtually unchanged since the 16th century. The tour concludes in Madrid, the capital of Spain since 1561, architecturally splendid and home to outstanding art galleries and museums.

Avila GateAvila walls










Day 1 – October 3

Arrive at Madrid Barajas Airport and transfer by coach to Avila, the highest provincial capital in Spain. After lunch in a local restaurant we will visit the historical centre with its 11th century walls and the Conventa de Santa Teresa, a major focus of religious pilgrimage built on the birthplace of the mystic St Theresa of Avila. The day ends at the Cathedral, the first in Spain to built in the Gothic style and its beautiful 13th century sacristry.

Group dinner at the hotel .

Day 2 –October 4

Salamanca University DoorSalamanca street viewBy private coach to Salamanca. From the city’s 18th century Plaza Mayor, widely regarded as the most beautiful in Spain we will walk through streets lined with golden sandstone buildings in the uniquely Spanish styles known as Plateresque and Churrigueresque. After the extraordinary Casa de las Conchas, covered in the sculpted scallop shells of the Order of Santiago and the imposing Baroque Church of La Clerecia we will visit the Universidad de Salamanca and the Museo de Salamanca housed in a 15th century mansion, once the home of Isabella’s personal physician.

After lunch in a local restaurant we go on to Salamanca’s adjoining Cathedrals, the richly decorated gothic Catedral Nueva and the Romanesque Catedral Vieja. The day ends in the enchanting 16th century cloisters of Convento de las Duenas.

Salamanca old cathedralOld cathedral Salamaca

spaceman and devil Salamanca cathedral















Return by private coach to Avila and group dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 3 – October 5

By private coach to Segovia and the 1st century Roman aqueduct, still in use in the late 19th century. A walk through the city takes us to the pure Romanesque church of La Trinidad, the Plaza Mayor, the exuberant 16th century Gothic cathedral and through the old Jewish quarter to the fairy tale Alcazar fortress.

On to the walled village of Pedraza de la Sierra and its castle where the young sons of the French king Francis I were held hostage in the 16th century.

Pedraza town centrePedraza view

Pedraza de la Sierra

Day 4 - October 6

frieze in basilca St Vincent, Sabina and Cristeta

After a visit to the fascinating Basilica of St Vincent, Sabina and Cristeta we leave by private coach for Toledo the ancient Visigothic capital that fell to the Moors in 711, a city where Muslims, Jews and Christians created an extraordinary fusion culture that flourished for 700 years. After check in and lunch at a local restaurant we leave on foot for the Plaza de Zocodover and the Hospital y Museo de Santa Cruz, a Renaissance building housing works by El Greco and Goya. On to the magnificent Cathedral with its 15th and 16th century stained glass, 22 side chapels and the lavishly carved choir and Narciso Tomé’s unique baroque sculpture, the ‘Transparente’.

Group dinner at a local restaurant.

Toledo rooftop view of Cathedral

Day 5 – October 7

On foot to the Mezquita de las Tornerias, a renovated 11th century mosque and the Church of Santa Tome, home to El Greco’s masterpiece ‘The Burial of the Count of Orgaz’. From here we walk through the Juderia to the stunning synagogue/church Santa Maria la Blanca built by Mudejar craftsmen in the 13th century and the Moorish influenced Sinagoga del Transito commissioned in 1336 by Samuel Levi, one of the most powerful men of his time and now home to a small Sephardic Museum.

13th century walls ToledoMosque, Toledo








After a group lunch at a local restaurant we visit the Museo de Arte Visigodo housed in the old church of San Roman, the Puerta del Sol and the tiny, beautiful 10th century mosque of Cristo de la Luz. The day concludes at the Puerta del Santo Cristo de la Luz, the Moorish portal through which El Cid led his triumphant armies in 1086.

Museum of Visigothic art Toledo

Museo de Arte Visigodo

Day 6 – October 8

By private coach to Madrid which became Spain’s capital in 1561 under Felipe II. What had been a small medieval town expanded dramatically as the Habsburgs and then the Bourbons added grand squares, palaces and government buildings. From the Plaza Mayor at the heart of Habsburg Madrid we will walk to the Plaza de la Villa and La Latina, part of the 16th century development of the city. After a group lunch at a local restaurant the rest of the day is devoted to two of Madrid’s great art galleries, The Prado and the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, home to Picasso’s ‘Guernica’.

Return by private coach to Toledo and dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 7 – October 9

A morning departure from Toledo via Madrid and a visit to the Museo de America a unique collection illustrating the history of America before and after its discovery by Columbus in 1492. Among items on display are the "Treasure of the Quimbayas", a hoard of 62 articles of solid gold, the Maya Codex, dating from the time of Cortés's conquest of Mexico and Aztec, Maya and Inca stone sculptures.

After a group lunch we make our way to the airport for the return flight to London Heathrow


street view, Toledo