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

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Total Trip:

13 Days
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Countries Visited:

Spain
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Places Visited:

Madrid, Toledo, Cordoba, Cuenca, Malaga
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Departure Dates:

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
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

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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:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast

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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:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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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:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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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:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Activity

included

Breakfast

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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:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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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:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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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:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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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:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast

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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:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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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:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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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:

included

Accommodation

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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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:

included

Accommodation

included

Transfer

included

Tour

included

Breakfast

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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:

included

Transfer

included

Breakfast

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Trip Highlights

  • Spend five days in Madrid, visiting some of the world's finest galleries, including Museo del Prado and the Thyseen-Bornemisza Collection
  • Be inspired by what you see and enjoy two private art classes with local painters, Spain's myriad of styles embellishing your own canvas
  • Marvel at some of the most influential art in world history, including an El Greco dedicated tour of Toledo and a tour of Picasso's birthplace and hometown museum
  • Spend two nights in both Cuenca and Toledo, stunning medieval towns that float on a blanket of old-world charm
  • All art tours are conducted by specialist art historians, helping provide a context and history to the famous works that fill the walls
  • Discover the artistic treasures of Andalusia and allow the journey to wander into Arab and Roman art, before picking a path to cubism and finishing the tour in Picasso's birthplace, Malaga
  • Exceptional and influential works of famous Spanish artists that span the schools and styles: Goya, Velazquez, El Greco, Zurbaran, Ribera, Murila, Dali, Picasso, Miro, Tapies, Sorolla, Titian, Chillida, and many more
  • Explore the lesser-known artistic delights, like the Goya frescoes that cover San Antonio de la Florida or the Spanish masters that decorated the Gothic Toledo Cathedral
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Detailed Description

Spain's art ripples across the centuries; a dozen styles and schools fill canvases with vibrant blurs and experimental expressionism. The names ignite the imagination, promising splendor and surrealism: Picasso, Dali, Goya, El Greco, and Velazquez. But these are just the start, the famed sons who forever influenced the world of art. Delve deeper and the country is a treasure chest of galleries and locally renowned artists, their work spreading across cathedral domes, convent walls, and world-famous museums. This art lover's tour magnificently represents the great Spanish painters, while also leading the eye through artistic niches and subtle delights. A specialist art historian guides you through every gallery and museum trip, helping to provide a rich context and history to the works. As you travel from Madrid to Malaga you piece together your own narrative of the country's art heritage and distinct style.

Madrid is one of the world's great art capitals and your base for the first five days. Visit the astonishing collections of renowned galleries like the Prado, Reina Sofia, and Thyseen-Bornemisza Collection. But also discover the city's lesser-known delights, like Goya's frescos in the San Antonio de la Florida and Lazaro Galdiano's collection of Velazquez and Zurbaran. For every world-famous canvas, like Picasso's Guernica, there's a local treasure that unveils artists' early work. Madrid is also where you take your first art master class, with another one being enjoyed later on in Cordoba.

Days six to nine are spent in Cuenca and Toledo, quaint medieval towns that you marvel at in the magnitude of their history. The old mixes with the new here, from a day dedicated to the ethereal work of El Greco, to the late 21st century Spanish work found in Cuenca's Museum of Abstract Art. Cathedrals and churches feature staggeringly elaborate frescos, some of the old masters' finest work found in the Gothic and Renaissance monuments of yesteryear. Like Madrid, expert local guides show you around, combining galleries and museums with evocative medieval architecture.

On day ten you travel by first-class train to Andalusia and the exotic remains of Cordoba. The buildings have a distinctively Eastern feel, grand displays of wealth that present an alternative side to Spain's historical art. The Fine Arts Museum and Museo Julio Romera de Torres feature a more classical side to Andalusia before you complete the vacation in Malaga, birthplace of Picasso. The painter's blossoming style can be read in his early work, on display at the Picasso Museum, and another specialist guide helps to unlock the hidden corners of his art.

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Starting Price

$3115 per person (excluding international flights)

This trip is customizable for your private travel.
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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.

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