Spanish Landscapes and Civilizations Tour

SpainExchange invites you to experience the natural beauty of Spain and the distinctive socio-cultural aspects that make it a unique and fascinating country. You will see some of its natural parks, spend a day at the beach, and travel through the southern provinces where millions of olive trees are cultivated and harvested. Castles, cathedrals, museums, monuments, and historical sites will round out this fascinating 12-day itinerary!

SUGGESTED ITINERARY

Day 1: Arrival and Nuevalos (Aragón)

Your SpainExchange guides will be awaiting your arrival at Madrid Barajas airport. After collecting your luggage, a tour bus will take your group to your first travel destination, the village of Nuevalos in the northern province of Aragón. Your group will stay the night at the Monasterio de Piedra Hotel, originally a 12th century Cistercian monastery and designated a National Monument.

Day 2: Nuevalos (Aragón) and Sagunto (Valencia)

Named after Aragón’s river Piedra, the Monasterio de Piedra, is surrounded by the National Park renown for its breathtaking waterfalls. After breakfast in the hotel, your SpainExchange guides will take you on a tour of the Park as well as the Monastery. Your group will enjoy free time to have lunch and a walk around before travelling to the charming Mediterranean seaport of Sagunto , located in the province of Valencia .

Day 3: Sagunto

This historic city is located at the feet of the Calderona Mountains in northern Valencia . The many monuments scattered throughout the city are remnants of its past occupants: the Roman theatre, Jewish Quarter, the Castle, and the Church of Santa Maria . Your day will include a look at the seaports of the Iberian Peninsula and their significance in the country’s historical development. After lunch, enjoy free time to rest and relax on the beach. A typical “cena” or dinner will be provided for you at your hotel.

Day 4: Sagunto

On day four, your SpainExchange guides will take you to visit the many historical monuments of Sagunto . After the Moors invaded Spain in the 8th century, a long struggle to take back the land, the “Reconquista”, began lasting until 1492. With the help of the legendary Spanish hero El Cid, the Spanish succeeded. The Archaeological Museum holds a fascinating collection of ceramics, 4th century BC sculpture, mosaics and Latin epigraphs. In the afternoon your tour bus will take you to your next SpainExchange destination, Castilla-La Mancha !

Day 5: Segóbriga and Cuenca (Castilla-La Mancha)

After breakfast in your hotel, your SpainExchange guides will take you to explore the many treasures of this former Roman city. The abundance of natural resources in this area made Sagunto an agricultural and mining center for the Roman Empire in Spain . Your group will visit the Sagunto archeological site: the theatre, amphitheatre, forum and baths. Sagunto is surrounded by a beautiful natural park filled with oak trees and diverse wildlife nurtured by the neighboring River Gigüela. The Romans considered this a sacred forest and built a temple honoring Diana, the goddess of wild animals and forests. After lunch your tour bus will take your group on to the city of Cuenca . This sleepy Spanish city is characterized by its unusual architecture: the “casas colgadas” or hanging houses. In the evening, your group will continue on to your hotel located in Alcázar de San Juan .

Day 6 : La Mancha

The historic city of Alcázar de San Juan provides a good base to visit the many sites on the Route of Don Quixote. Prepare yourself to follow in the footsteps of Miguel de Cervantes and his legendary hero. Your SpainExchange guides will take you to the prison where the distinguished author found himself, as well as to the Cueva de Montesinos and Lagunas de Ruidera. Dinner will be provided for your group in the hotel.

Day 7: La Mancha

After breakfast the Route of Don Quixote continues with visits to: the beloved Dulcinea’s town of Tobosa , the famous giant-windmills of La Mancha, the 17th century “Venta” (a roadside inn at Puerto Lapice) and the castle of Consuegra . Spend the afternoon contemplating the beautiful landscapes of La Mancha before returning to Alcázar de San Juan for the night.

Day 8: Jaén and Córdoba

In the morning, SpainExchange will take your group through the olive orchards of Jaén where millions of olive trees are cultivated and harvested. They call it “liquid gold”. In the town of Torredonjimeno you will be taken on a guided visit of an olive oil mill and learn how olive oil is pressed, extracted and packaged. After lunch and free time your group will travel to the enchanting Andalusian city of Córdoba .

Day 9: Córdoba

Córdoba was founded by the Romans in 169 BC and is located on the important Guadalquivir River . One of the most-visited buildings in Spain is the “Mezquita”: a Cathedral-Mosque built by the Moors and later turned into a Roman Catholic cathedral. Other highlights include the historic Jewish Quarter and the Torre de la Calahorra. In the evening your group will travel to the 17th century royal hotspot of Aranjuez, in the province of Madrid .

Day 10: Aranjuez and Madrid

The ideas of the Enlightenment are made visible in the design of Aranjuez: in the palace architecture and its gardens exists a harmony between the natural and the man-made. Your group will visit the summer palace built by Phillip II in the 16th century and the gardens that were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Your tour will also include a visit to the Royal Barge Museum which houses a fascinating collection of crafts, including a gilded ship used to transport the Spanish monarchs downriver to their royal spread. That’s what I call travelling in-style! In the evening your group will travel to the Spanish capital of Madrid .

Day 11: Madrid

Spend your last day in Spain on a walking tour of historic Madrid . Your tour will guide you through the historic center: the Plaza Mayor, Sol, the Royal Palace and the Cathedral of San Isidro. After lunch you will visit the magnificent El Prado Museum, home to famous paintings by Velázquez, Goya and El Greco. A farewell dinner will take place in a typical Spanish “meson”.

Day 12: Departure

Your SpainExchange guides will escort you to the airport and assist to assure that you have everything you need for your trip back home. ¡Buen viaje!

ITINERARY TABLE

Day

Cities visited

Sites / Activities

Learning Objectives

Night spent at

1

Arrival in Madrid, travel to Nuevalos (Aragón)

Night spent in 12th century monastery-hotel

Monastic life in Spanish history

Nuevalos (Aragón)

2

Nuevalos (Aragón)

Tour of the Monasterio de Piedra and Park

Spain ‘s National Parks

Sagunto ( Valencia )

3

Sagunto ( Valencia )

Walking tour of Sagunto , the port and the beach

Sagunto ‘s different occupants, the seaports of Spain

Sagunto ( Valencia )

4

Sagunto ( Valencia )

Castle, Roman ruins, Church of Santa Maria

The Reconquest and El Cid, the Roman Empire

Cuenca

5

Segóbriga, Cuenca

Roman city and Park of Segóbriga, “Hanging Houses” of Cuenca

Roman culture and legacy, Medieval period and architecture

Alcazár de San Juan

6

Argamasilla, Lagunas de Ruidera

Route of Don Quixote: Prison of Cervantes, Cueva de Montesino, Lagunas de Ruidera

The Golden Ages of Spain, Don Quixote de La Mancha

Alcazár de San Juan

7

Consuegra, Puerto Lapice (La Mancha)

Route of Don Quixote: the windmills, castle, the “Venta”

The life and work of Cervantes

Alcazár de San Juan

8

Torredonjimeno (Jaen), Córdoba

Olive oil mill Torredonjimeno

Agriculture in Spain, olive oil production

Córdoba

9

Córdoba

Calahorra Tower , “Mezquita” and Jewish Quarter

The Al-Andalus legacy and the consensus of three cultures

Aranjuez

10

Aranjuez

Royal Palace and gardens, the Royal Barge Museum

The Spanish Monarchy, architecture of the 17th century

Madrid

11

Madrid

Walking tour of Madrid, El Prado Museum

Spain in the 21st century, Spanish art and architecture

Madrid

12

  Departure

Feel free to contact us with your questions or to request a free estimate.