Architecture and Gardens of Andalucia (RHS Package)
- Pinnacle of Moorish architecture, the Alhambra Palace
- Dramatic views of the rugged Sierra Nevada mountain range
- Mesmerising multi-arched columns of Córdoba’s Great Mosque
- Centuries old orange trees of Seville
- The historic Puente Nuevo bridge which spans the El Tajo gorge in Ronda
Unrivalled in Europe for its wealth of history, culture, Moorish architecture and gardens, Andalucia is also set against an unmatched backdrop of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains. Visit classical gardens perfectly complemented by adjoining palaces and churches.
More famous for its busy, popular coastline, Andalucia has a wonderful hinterland scattered with exotic palaces and gardens left behind by the Moors, the most famous of which are the Alhambra and the Generalife. On a tree covered slope it commands exceptional views down towards the old city, the Albaicin, and the great snow-fringed mountain range of the Sierra Nevada.
Moving on to Córdoba we visit the Great Mosque, one of the most ancient continuously gardened sites in the world; and the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos with its characteristic terraced pools. In the beautiful city of Seville, we enjoy many wondrous sites: from the Cathedral and the Orange Tree Courtyard that belonged to the old mosque; to the amazing Royal Palaces of the Alcázar; and the Old Jewish Quarter of Santa Cruz. We conclude in the dramatically situated town of Ronda, with visits to the Alameda del Tajo Gardens and the old Palace of the Moorish King, set high on a cliff on the edge of a spectacular gorge.
During our free time, there will be plenty of opportunity to sample ‘tapas’ at a local bar; attend a Flamenco show; or take a gentle cruise along the Guadalquivir river, which once shimmered with gold and silver from the Americas.
Depart on an early morning flight from the UK. On arrival in Malaga we travel to your hotel in Granada. A welcome drink followed by dinner will be served in the evening.
This morning following breakfast we visit the famous Alhambra Palace with its Generalife Gardens. The Alhambra has one of the most spectacular sites in the world. Alhambra means "red castle", and the buildings are of a seductive pink stone and were built in the 14th Century. We will also visit the gardens of The Generalife which was the summer palace of the Sultans of Granada in the 14th Century. In the afternoon, after lunch (not included), your guide will accompany you as you wander through the medieval streets of the Albaicín, glimpsing several "Carmens", which are the enclosed gardens typical of the Moorish era of Granada and of which many good examples have been maintained by the Christians. We return to the hotel late afternoon and there will be free time for the remainder of the day.
Evening at leisure.
After breakfast we depart on an all day excursion into the Sierra Nevada mountains for a gentle walk looking at the indigenous flora and fauna and enjoying the superb mountain scenery. In the late afternoon we return to Granada where the evening is free.
After breakfast we depart for Córdoba, passing through a landscape with millions of olive trees. We will visit the Great Mosque with its Orange Grove, which was first laid out in the late 8th Century and must be one of the true wonders of the world. Outside is a huge patio covered in orange trees - Patio de los Naranjos - which was originally covered with fountains used for bathing before entering the mosque. On entering you are struck by the vast number of pillars supporting the arches with their distinctive red and white tiles which are so much a symbol of the whole design. The mosque is now a mixture of Moorish and Christian with chapels incorporated into the building and it is stunning in both its appearance and atmosphere. The gardens of The Royal Palaces of the Alcázar are Moorish in style, laid out in rows around long pools with numerous fountains. The sound of the water and the smells of the garden make it an experience for all the senses. At the end of one of these long pools are statues of Columbus together with Ferdinand and Isabel symbolising their meeting in Córdoba. Following our visit we will have some free time to discover the charms of this most Spanish of towns - please note that on our May departure, we will also spend some time looking at the gardens participating in the Córdoba Patio Festival.
Late afternoon we continue to our comfortable hotel in Seville. Evening at leisure.
After breakfast the whole day is spent in Seville. We begin by visiting the Maria-Luisa Park and also the Plaza de España, laid out in 1929 for a “Fair of the Americas”. This is among the most impressive public spaces in Spain. Nearby is the Tobacco Factory where Carmen - in Bizet’s opera - worked as a cigar maker. Later you will see the Gardens of Murillo, planted in honour of the famous painter from Seville, and Seville’s majestic Cathedral.
In the afternoon we will visit Seville’s Orange Tree Courtyard which belonged to the old mosque and the gardens of the Royal Palaces of the Alcázar. The Alcázar is a magnificent palace which mixes Christian and Moorish styles and has several patios and salons all of which are grand and very highly decorated. The ceilings, in particular, are incredibly intricate in design, one with a wooden dome decorated with red, green and gold cells inscribed with Arabic. After the wonder of the palace it is refreshing to walk through the beautiful gardens made up of a mixture of several eras. There is an “English Garden” unlike any garden in this country as the trees and plants are much larger! There is also a huge 500 year old magnolia tree brought by Columbus from the New World. The gardens are rambling and a leisurely walk here shows orange trees, eucalyptus, palms and many others. You may also see the “Flower of Spain”, so-called because of its colours of the Spanish flag. The gardens are like those of the Alhambra but not so large. There are many fountains and places to sit and admire the great variety of trees and palms. We return to the hotel where the evening is free.
Today is free to explore Seville at leisure.
After breakfast we head for Ronda, a spectacular town rising dramatically amid a ring of dark, angular mountains set above the gorges of the River Tajo. We will see the Alameda del Tajo Gardens set on the edge of the spectacular gorge offering fantastic views. These were completed in the early 19th century and give fine views over the plains. We have also included a visit to the gardens of the old Palace of the Moorish King of Ronda with its narrow terrace over-hanging the gorge. There will be free time to explore the town before we continue to our hotel.
Evening at leisure.
This morning after breakfast we will transfer to the airport at Malaga in time for our return flights.
- Seven nights’ accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis: three nights at the four-star Senator Granada Spa Hotel, Granada; three nights at the four-star Tryp Macarena Hotel, Seville; one night at the four-star Hotel Maestranza, Ronda
- Dinner and welcome drink on the first evening
- Return scheduled flights from either Luton or London Gatwick to Malaga (Other airports may be available on request)
- Visits to Alhambra Palace (Granada), Great Mosque and Royal Palaces (Córdoba), Cathedral, Alcázar, Maria Luisa Park and Gardens of Murillo (Seville), Alamedo del Tajo Gardens (Ronda)
- Services of Michael Gill as tour manager
Supplements Per Person
- Single room supplement £210.00
- May departure supplement £50.00
- Insurance £45.00 (under 65); £90.00 (65-74); £135.00 (75-90)
Other regional flight connections and/or overnight accommodation can be arranged on request before or after the tour