The Art Lover’s Tour of Spain: From Goya to El Greco

A 13 day trip to Spain 
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Spain's fine art defies definitions. It blurs the romance of Goya with the unusual expressionism of El Greco, celebrates the thick seduction of the Golden Age, and then merges old masters with influential upstarts like Picasso and Dali. During this 13-day art lover’s tour of Spain, you're interactively guided around the country's renowned museums and galleries, exploring an unrivaled artistic heritage and inimitability. Art master classes and specialist art historians are included throughout on this art lover’s tour of Spain.

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General Information

Photos
spain toledo interior of a courtyard
spain cuenca mudejar castle
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Madrid, Toledo, Cordoba, Cuenca, Malaga

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Madrid – Historical Introduction the Spanish Capital

Arrive in Madrid and the artistic indulgence cascades from townhouse walls. Pastel colors emanate from the Hapsburg Quarter; ancient messages are sculpted into balconies and doorways, while unknown paintings fill the walls of tapas taverns. You're greeted at Madrid Airport and transferred to your hotel in the heart of the city. Freshen up and you're taken through the city on a walking tour, traversing the old Hapsburg and Bourbon quarters before admiring the indulgent baroque style of the Royal Palace. This flexible tour can be shortened or lengthened dependent on your mood after the flight and is a great introduction to the atmosphere of the city.

What's Included: airport meet and greet, accommodation, Madrid walking tour

Day 2: Madrid – A Day of Fine Art at Museo del Prado - One of the World's Greatest Galleries

Perhaps only the Louvre can rival Museo del Prado for its collection of fine art. Spanning the 12th to 19th centuries the gallery stands unrivaled in its showcase of Spanish artists and the whole morning is dedicated to the Spanish side of the museum. Velazquez welcomes you, one of his bronze statues dominating the promenade entrance and his famous Las Meninas waiting inside. An array of rooms is dedicated to the individualistic brilliance of Spain's most important Golden Age artist. Then, you roam through the imaginative romance of Goya; Museo del Prado containing the greatest collection of his work, including The Third of May. A specialist Spanish art historian accompanies you; the informative tour takes you to the heart of the canvases.

Take a break for lunch and continue the discussions about style and influence, your guide revealing the stories behind lesser-known Spanish artists that flourished under more famous tutors. Spend the afternoon exploring the greatest collection of Italian masters outside Italy and the baroque styles of Rubens and Bosch, Flemish painters who were under Spanish rule at the time. The specialist guide accompanies you all day and will tailor the afternoon towards any distinct interests you have.

What's Included: accommodation, guided Prado Museum visit with specialist art historian, breakfast

Day 3: Madrid – Two Exceptional Galleries in the Heart of Madrid

The canvases of Goya and Zurbaran gaze from the wall of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts: their thick swishes of color joined by other Spanish masters like Ribera and Murila. Comprehensive commentary comes from your guide, providing context and history to this less-visited collection. Spend the morning here, before indulging in the great Madrid tradition of a long lunch on the Plaza Mayor. While the Royal Academy has structure and direction, the Thyseen-Bornemisza Collection is an ode to the wealth of private collectors. Wander down the resplendent corridors of the 18th century Palacio de Villahermosa, admiring the vibrant shocks and unusual portraits contained in what was one of the world's largest private art collections (the Spanish government bought it in the 90's and made it available to the public). Its highlights span the whole of Europe over eight centuries, offering a sublime snapshot at masterful fine art.

What's Included: accommodation, guided visit to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and Thyseen-Bornemisza Collection with specialist art historian, breakfast, lunch

Day 4: Madrid – An Interactive Art Class and a Journey Through Modern Art

Madrid is calm in the morning light, the streets slowly coming alive with the smells of coffee and chocolate. At this time it barely feels like a capital, more like a giant village for exploring at leisure. Relax, take your time, enjoy the morning, and be guided through the Reina Sofia when you're ready. Spain's premier contemporary art gallery is an astonishing journey through famous names, taking your eye from Picasso to Miro to Dali to Tapies. Like the last two days, a specialist guide helps provide an historical context and helps tie the individual works together, culminating in Picasso's Guernica. Madrid's art scene is almost unparalleled so where better to experiment with brushstrokes? Spend the afternoon on a private art master class, taking inspiration from the Madrid galleries onto the canvas. This art class will be expertly tailored to your own interests, whether that's recreating the Spanish masters or perfecting an unusual personal inclination.

What's Included: accommodation, guided visit to Renia Sofia with specialist art historian, afternoon private art masterclass, breakfast, lunch

Day 5: Madrid – Hidden Treasures in an Art Lover's City

The master class of Spanish art continues today with some of Madrid's lesser-known attractions. Goya's frescoes blend across the neoclassical San Antonio de la Florida, cherubs and biblical scenes covering ceilings of enchantment. This is where the artist is buried and there are perhaps no better examples of his work, the paintings curving across domes of resplendence. Continue the day at the Lazaro Galdiano Museum, another lesser-visited Madrid gallery. The museum contains the private collection of Jose Lazaro Galdiano, a man who bought everything from Iberian Celtic sculptures to medieval artistry and carved ivory. Gaze up to sublime baroque painted ceilings then look around to the collection of paintings that include El Greco, Goya's Witches' Sabbath, Bosch, Velazquez, and Zurbaran. Your guide pulls the narrative together from a very diverse collection. The afternoon is free for you to explore Madrid your at leisure, with the opportunity to visit a temporary exhibition dependent on the time of your visit.

What's Included: accommodation, guided visit to San Antonio de la Florida and Lazaro Galdiano Museum with specialist art historian, breakfast

Day 6: Cuenca – Picturesque Journeys Through La Mancha

There's a final Madrid pleasure this morning, the Sorolla Museum containing the sun-dappled vibrancy and dexterity of Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida. Then you leave Madrid, winding into the La Mancha plains and stopping at the surreal timber houses of Chinchon. You're heading back in time, Madrid city giving way to medieval villages and walled towns. Arrive in Cuenca for a long Spanish lunch on the main square, the sounds of the past flickering from cobblestoned corridors. Towering above the valley, Cuenca is one of Spain's most untrammeled towns and a serene place to spend the next two nights. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure, gazing down from the castle ramparts and completely slowing down the pace.

What's Included: accommodation, Sorolla Museum, guided transfer to Cuenca

Day 7: Cuenca – From the 15th to 21st Century in a Single Day

The Cuenca old town feels untouched and unchanged, women still in floral dresses and bakeries emitting idyllic morning smells. Carved wooden ceilings fill the Gothic cathedral while Plateresque portals ensure you're still exploring the 16th century. The town's small museums maintain the archaic musing, works of El Greco hanging amidst the musty smells of yesteryear. But continue the Cuenca tour and Spain's abstract modernism is discovered. The paintings of Saura and the sculptures of Chillida fill a 15th century building that practically crumbles over the gorge. This Museum of Abstract Art seems out of place given the surroundings, yet the remarkable juxtapositions find a strange harmony. Tapies, Zobel, and Munoz are also found here, amongst a rapidly developing collection of over 1,500 works.

What's Included: accommodation, guided Cuenca tour including three art museums, breakfast

Day 8: Toledo – Gothic Resplendence and Churches Filled with Spanish Masters

Toledo's castle gleams from afar, guiding you towards a city of rich artistic treasure. The spires of a 13th century Mudejar church rise from behind the city walls, a synagogue stands beside the mausoleum of King Ferdinand, and then the monastery of San Juan de Los Reyes stands radiant with its late Gothic decoration. Arrive in Toledo in the mid-morning and spend some time slowly exploring, discovering the rich tapestry of architecture and a rich display of Spanish masters. El Greco's greatest work – the Burial of Count Orgaz - fills the Church of Santo Tome, while Spain's largest Gothic cathedral is stuffed with paintings and sculptures from Valazquez and Titian. Finish the guided tour in the mid-afternoon and enjoy some free time soaking up this fairytale old city.

What's Included: accommodation, guided Toledo tour, luxury transfers, breakfast

Day 9: Toledo - The World of El Greco

Toledo's most famous resident is the focus of today, the life and work of El Greco dotted around the city's fabulous historic buildings. Start outside the city gates, admiring his Spanish renaissance paintings that hang in the Museum of Santa Cruz and the Hospital de Tavera. El Greco, The Greek, achieved his fame when he moved to Toledo and started being commissioned for notable Renaissance churches. His dramatic style struggles to be classified, mixing expressionism with fantasy and marrying disparate ideas. This is best displayed at the El Greco House and Museum, where his early work reveals an eclectic and always evolving style. An El Greco expert is your guide, helping to gradually build a detailed picture of an artist's artist, one that inspired much 20th century expressionism and cubism. Finish the tour at the Convent of St. Domingo, where El Greco's works hang above his burial place.

What's Included: accommodation, guided El Greco tour with art expert, breakfast, lunch

Day 10: Cordoba – Exploring Andalusian Architecture and Medieval Europe

A first-class train slices across the La Mancha plains towards Andalusia, endless yellow plains drifting towards the horizon, as you get ready to explore the ancient capital of Islamic Spain. There's a break from classic galleries and museums today, your guided Cordoba tour focusing on the magnificent architecture of what was once the richest city in Europe. The 13th century grand mosque delivers elegant patterns of symmetry, lines stretching around the 16th century cathedral that's built within it. Now the lavish Medina Azahara, ten centuries old yet still symbolic of Cordoba's dedication to artistry. Cordoba's old town has an Eastern exoticism that immediately inspires, the camera snapping away as a local guide provides romantic historical chronicles.

What's Included: accommodation, first-class train tickets, guided Cordoba tour, breakfast

Day 11: Cordoba – Roman and Arab Art in an Exotic Destination

Cordoba's art presents a narrative of the city's history, starting in the Archaeological Museum with Roman remains and a decadent collection of Arab pieces. It moves forward through the Alcazar and its Roman mosaics to the winding maze of the Jewish quarter, home to synagogues and the delightful ceiling of the Fine Arts Museum. Now the canvases of old Spanish masters join the journey, before the Museo Julio Romero de Torres brings you into a symbolist early 20th century. As always, a local art expert guides you through the day and you visit all of the city's important galleries and museums. When the afternoon sun starts to fade you enjoy another private art class, taken on the terrace of your hotel. Like in Madrid, it's a private lesson that's tailored to your interests.

What's Included: accommodation, guided Cordoba art tour, private art lesson, breakfast, lunch

Day 12: Malaga – Finishing the Tour in Picasso's Birthplace

Since eying his work at the Reina Sofia, one famous Spanish artist has been notably absent from this itinerary: Pablo Picasso. Take a direct train to Malaga and you're in his birthplace. A local Picasso expert greets you at the station and you start at the house the artist was born in. A few of his belongings are on display and it helps set the scene for the Picasso Museum, home to an astonishing collection of his works. In particular, the museum reveals his early work, allowing you to chart the development of his distinct and highly influential style. After absorbing it all you take lunch at a quaint town square before visiting the final gallery of this trip: the Carmen Thyssen museum. Like this whole vacation, the gallery takes you on a journey through the styles and schools, from the old masters to the flamboyance of 19th century painters and then the surrealist tones of the next generation.

What's Included: accommodation, first-class train tickets, transfers, guided Malaga art tour, breakfast, lunch

Day 13: Malaga – Departure

This morning, your transfer meets you at the hotel lobby and takes you to Malaga Airport and your return flight. As you bid farewell you scour through the memories, piecing together the styles and schools that have danced across this vacation.

What's Included: airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Starting Price 

$3,115
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.