Art and Culture in Spain

21 Apr – 11 May 2018

  • Region:
    • Europe
    • Spain
    • Spring in Europe
  • Status: closed
  • Code: 21806
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Tour Highlights

  • Learn about Spain’s distinctive history and culture from author and art curator Anneli Bojstad.
  • Explore the culture of Islamic Spain through its magnificent monuments in Seville, Córdoba and Granada.
  • Study fascinating relationships between Christian, Jewish and Islamic visual culture in Toledo.
  • Encounter the greatness of 17th-century masters like Velazquez and the genius of Goya, as well as German and Italian masterpieces, in the Prado.
  • Discover Philip II’s monastery palace, El Escorial, and castles and fortress towns of medieval Castile, and in Salamanca, visit the oldest university in Spain.
  • Chart Spain’s contribution to International Modernism in Gaudí’s architecture and the art of Picasso, Dalí and Miró.
  • Enjoy a performance at Barcelona’s Palau de la Música Catalana – designed in the Catalan modernista style by architect Lluís Domènech i Montanera.
  • Experience Spanish hospitality at urban palaces as their owners welcome us into their homes. In Toledo we enjoy an evening reception at a private palace with splendid views of the Cathedral, and in Avila we view the family archives of a grand historic house.
  • Enjoy free time in Seville, Toledo, Salamanca, Madrid and Barcelona to further explore these fascinating cities at your leisure.
  • Muse on Spain’s epic, tragic and romantic history as we dine in a lovely old garden restaurant overlooking the Alhambra at sunset.
  • Stay in a heritage hotel in Seville and the charming Hotel Hospes Palacio de San Esteban, located in a restored 16th-century convent in the heart of Salamanca.

21-day Cultural Tour of Spain

Overnight Seville (4 nights) • Granada (3 nights) • Toledo (3 nights) • Salamanca (2 nights) • Madrid (4 nights) • Barcelona (4 nights)


This tour presents a comprehensive view of Spain’s unique history through its distinctive art and architecture. At the Great Mosque of Córdoba and in Granada’s Alhambra we encounter medieval Islam’s architectural treasures, and in Seville’s great cathedral and alcázar (palace) we see how this Muslim heritage influenced Christian monarchs and their builders. No one can truly comprehend the distinctive Iberian interaction of Judaism, Islam and Christianity without exploring Toledo’s fascinating cathedral, churches, local mosques, ancient synagogues and palaces, monasteries and old houses. Segovia has its great Roman aqueduct and Ávila has the monastery of the ecstatic mystic St Teresa and complete 11th-century walls, reflecting medieval Christianity’s Iberian struggle with Islam. In Salamanca we explore one of Europe’s oldest universities – its exquisite golden Gothic and Renaissance architecture has intricate carved decoration that, although of Western form, reflects the finesse of Islam. Cervantes mocked the martial spirit of the Christian reconquest of Spain – we will see Consuegra’s windmills, which Don Quixote took to be dragons. His eccentricities signify a unique, enduring gesturalism that grew from the Reconquista, which we also explore in Barcelona through the extraordinary architectural fantasies of Antoni Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia and Casa Milà, and in Joan Miró’s gestural automatist paintings in the Miró Foundation. We also attend a performance at the Palau de la Música Catalana, Montaner’s Catalan modernista concert hall, a masterpiece with an enormous stained-glass skylight in shades of gold and blue. The quirkiness of Gaudí, Miró, Dalí and Picasso contrasts to a strain of literalism and realism which we’ll trace in Seville’s golden age paintings by Zurbarán and Murillo, and in the Prado’s unforgettable masterpieces by Diego Velázquez. We see how Spain’s visual genius moulded a modern sensibility through the prescient work of Goya and Picasso’s heroic painting Guernica. We can muse on Spain’s epic, tragic and romantic history as we dine in a lovely old garden restaurant overlooking the Alhambra at sunset.


The detailed itinerary provides an outline of the proposed daily program. The daily activities described in this itinerary may be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate changes in museum opening hours, flight schedules etc. The tour includes breakfast daily, lunch and evening meals, indicated in the itinerary where: B=breakfast L=lunch and D=evening meal.

Seville - 4 nights

Day 1: Saturday 21 April, Arrive Seville
  • Arrival Transfer for participants arriving on the ASA ‘designated’ flight

Our tour commences in Seville. Upon arrival, participants taking ASA’s ‘designated’ flight will transfer by private coach to our hotel. Those taking alternative flights should meet the group at Hotel Las Casas de la Judería(Overnight Seville)

Day 2: Sunday 22 April, Seville
  • Introductory Meeting
  • Museo de las Bellas Artes
  • Casa de Pilatos
  • Welcome Dinner at Casa Robles Restaurante

Seville is a town of pre-Roman origin, originally called Hispalis. In the Roman era, Hispalis, renamed Colonia Julia Romula in 45 BC, became a major urban centre and a provincial capital. Early in the 5th century, the Visigoths captured the city which, led by the great encyclopaedist St Isidore of Seville, soon became the intellectual centre of the Visigothic church. In 712 Muslim forces from North Africa secured the capitulation of Seville through negotiation with its Visigothic nobility.

The Muslims Arabised the name ‘Hispalis’ to ‘Ishbiliyya’ from which ‘Seville’ derives. During the Umayyad period, Seville rivalled the Umayyad capital of Córdoba in wealth and learning. It prospered through the manufacture of silk textiles and the exploitation of its rich agricultural hinterland, which produced figs, olive oil, cereals, honey, and horses famous throughout Europe. The navigability of the river Guadalquivir enabled Seville to export her products not only to other parts of the Iberian peninsula but also to other Mediterranean destinations. When the Umayyad caliphate of Córdoba collapsed, Seville became the seat of a local Ta’ifa lineage, the ‘Abbadids, who ruled much of Andalucia until Yusuf ibn Tashfin incorporated the kingdoms of the Muluk al-Tawa’if into the Almoravid empire in the 1090s.

A century later, Seville became part of the Almohad Empire. The Almohads made Seville the capital of the Andalucian section of their empire and extensively re-modelled it. During the last decades of the 12th century, Ya’qub al-Mansur, one of the greatest Almohad rulers, endowed Seville with massive new fortifications, a new citadel, and a monumental great mosque with a minaret in the same style as those of the Almohad mosques in Marrakesh and Rabat. This minaret, now the belltower of the Cathedral of Seville, still stands as a testament to the durability of Almohad architecture, as does the Torre del Oro, a dodecagonal tower beside the Guadalquivir which held one end of a great defensive chain that blocked the river to enemies. Seville remained Muslim-ruled until 1248 when Fernando III of Castile took the city. Initially the Castilians were impressed enough with the architecture of their rivals to leave both the great mosque and the citadel, or alcázar, intact, although the great mosque was rededicated as a church.

In the 14th century, Pedro the Cruel replaced the Almohad citadel with a new Mudéjar structure which consciously emulated Islamic palatial prototypes and the contemporary Nasrid palace-city of the Alhambra. Later additions to the Alcázar of Pedro, such as the early 16th-century oratory of Ferdinand and Isabella, were more consciously Christian in design. The palace nevertheless suggests the Christians ambivalence towards the Muslim culture they had vanquished.

In 1401, as Castilian attitudes grew more militant, the great mosque was torn down and Europe’s largest Gothic cathedral built on its foundations, leaving only traces of its courtyard and minaret. In the 16th century a belfry and weathervane were added to the minaret. The term for weathervane, giraldillo, gave the tower its new name, La Giralda. Inside the vast cathedral stands one of Spain’s most ornate retablos mayores, a massive gilt wooden retable occupying the whole of the chancel wall. The cathedral also contains many major medieval, Renaissance and Baroque art works, and the tomb of Christopher Columbus. These are testaments to Seville’s emergence in the 16th century as a prosperous and important entrepôt for silver and tobacco from the New World.

As wealth poured into the city, a rich bourgeoisie developed which commissioned palatial residences along the narrow streets of the old city, and patronised local artists. By the 17th century, Seville vied with Madrid as a centre of Spanish sculpture and painting. Zurbarán, Velázquez and Murillo worked in the city, which also produced fine polychrome wood sculptures, examples of which are used today in Holy Week processions. Despite its Christianisation, Seville’s culture retained something of its Islamic heritage. The music and dancing of the Sevillana and Seguidilla draw on Hispano-Muslim traditions, as does the aristocratic horsemanship which is so much part of the Feria de Abril (April Festival) which follows Holy Week celebrations.

Following an introductory meeting at the hotel, we begin today by visiting the Museo de las Bellas Artes, a large museum of Andalucian art which was refurbished for Expo ’92. Here we shall study the development of Sevillan religious painting in the works of such masters as Zurbarán and Murillo. We discover Zurbarán’s fine treatment of light, which isolates figures from their surroundings, thus emphasising their expressions of intense, private devotion, and the luminosity of Murillo’s images. We also look at the development of the devotional image in the 16th and 17th centuries and at the intimacy, realism and informality which makes Spanish Counter-Reformation works so different from their Italian counterparts.

Following lunchtime at leisure, we shall visit an early 16th-century Sevillan mansion known as the Casa de Pilatos. This mansion was constructed by Fadrique de Ribera and was said to have been inspired by Pilate’s house in Jerusalem. Processions during Holy Week used to leave this building, winding their way out of the city to the Cruz del Campo, the distance believed to be exactly that from Pilate’s Jerusalem Praetorium to Golgotha. The house is organised around a central courtyard and like so many Spanish buildings, is an eclectic mix of Mudéjar and Renaissance elements.

Tonight we dine together at a Seville institution, the restaurant Casa Robles. The Robles family opened their first wine bar and restaurant here in 1954. Over the decades, the traditional, discrete dining rooms have hosted royalty, politicians, and film stars. The restaurant’s emphasis is on local ingredients and traditional Andalucian recipes and gastronomy. (Overnight Seville) BD

Day 3: Monday 23 April, Seville
  • Santa Cruz Quarter
  • Cathedral and Giralda
  • Afternoon at leisure

This morning we walk through the Santa Cruz Quarter to Seville Cathedral. Santa Cruz, a medieval ghetto, reflects the urban layout of old Seville. In the 16th century aristocrats built small palaces in this district, partly transforming its social composition while preserving the quarter’s medieval plan. At the cathedral we shall see the Patio de los Naranjos, the original mosque courtyard, the Giralda and the impressive cathedral interior.

The rest of the afternoon is at leisure, enabling you to further explore the city’s medieval and Baroque precincts. (Overnight Seville) B

Day 4: Tuesday 24 April, Seville
  • Alcázar of Seville
  • Hospital de la Caridad
  • Torre del Oro

We begin today with a visit to the Alcázar of Seville, located opposite the cathedral. This palatial complex was constructed by Pedro I, ‘the Cruel’, of Castile in the 14th century on the site of the ‘Abbadid and Almohad citadels. Pedro used the Almohad outer walls of the palace precinct and incorporated fragments of Muslim palaces into a new complex with a large Mudéjar palace at its heart. His palace was constructed by craftsmen from Nasrid Granada and, with its multiple courts decorated with faience and stucco, bears a close resemblance to parts of the Alhambra. However, Pedro had the emblems of Castile inserted within the essentially Islamic decorative schema of his palace, thus asserting Christian power over the sophisticated Hispano-Muslim artistic tradition. In subsequent centuries, Spanish rulers added new wings and extensive gardens to the Alcázar which was a favoured royal residence until the early 17th century. Special apartments are still maintained for visits by the Spanish royal family.

Following lunch at leisure we visit the Hospital de la Caridad, a Baroque hospital commissioned by Don Miguel de Mañara (1661-1664) to care for the sick, the poor and the starving. Mañara was a typical Counter-Reformation Spaniard in that he believed that salvation could be gained by good works. The hospital’s chapel contains Valdés Leal’s two extraordinary images of death, In Ictu Oculi and Finis Gloriae Mundi (1672), which visually explore the themes of death, decay and the transitory nature of life. The great masterpieces of this chapel are, however, Murillo’s beautiful cycle of paintings depicting mercy executed between 1660 and 1674. The Feeding of the 5,000, Moses Striking the Rock, and St Elizabeth Nursing the Lepers, are particularly fine examples of Murillo’s masterful handling of light and shade.

The nearby Almohad Torre del Oro (Tower of Gold) is so named for the gilded tiles that once reputedly adorned its sides. The Torre del Oro was part of the Almohad river fortifications guarding the port of Seville. It was originally one of a pair of towers either side of the river which held the great defensive chain stretching across the Guadalquivir River. (Overnight Seville) B

Granada - 3 nights

Day 5: Wednesday 25 April, Seville – Córdoba – Granada
  • Mosque, Córdoba
  • Synagogue, Córdoba

We depart early this morning and drive across the broad plains of the Guadalquivir basin to Córdoba. Córdoba was the capital of the 8th to 11th century Umayyad dynasty, and we will visit its Great Mosque and the Judería (Jewish quarter).

The Great Mosque was dedicated in 786 and expanded in stages over the next two centuries. The world’s third largest mosque, it is the earliest and finest Hispanic mosque still standing. Doorways set within horseshoe arches puncture its fortress-like outer walls. Exquisite geometric and floral patterns decorate the tympana of the arches and the panels above them. Inside, a courtyard leads to the vast prayer hall that contains arcades of columns supporting superimposed tiers of polychrome arches, thought to have been modelled upon the Roman aqueduct at Merida.

The mihrab (prayer niche) is adorned with exquisite abstract designs in mosaic, executed by craftsmen from Constantinople in the late-10th century. When Córdoba fell to the Castilians in 1236, the great mosque was converted into a church. Chapels were gradually inserted around the prayer hall and, in 1523, the cathedral chapter chose to build a cathedral within the mosque, although this decision was opposed by the city council and, later, criticised by Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. At around the same time the minaret of the mosque was definitively converted into a bell tower by the construction of a new outer shell and the addition of a belfry.

At about 3:00pm, we will depart Córdoba and drive to Granada through the Andalucian landscape, dominated by the vast olive forests of its latifundia, great agricultural estates which owe their ultimate origins to the Romans. (Overnight Granada) B

Day 6: Thursday 26 April, Granada
  • Alhambra & Generalife
  • Palace of Charles V
  • Afternoon at leisure
  • Dinner at the Mirador de Morayma Restaurant

The city of Granada grew up near the site of Roman and Visigothic Illiberis, later known as Elvira. During the Umayyad period, Elvira specialised in commerce due to its proximity to the port of Malaga. At the same time, its easily defensible location, nestling to the north of the Sierra Nevada, gave the city a taste for independence.

Early in its Muslim history Granada was a centre of opposition to the Umayyads of Córdoba. After their fall in the 11th century, the region was ruled by the Berber Zirid dynasty, who founded the walled city of Granada. During the era of the Muluk al-Tawa’if, Granada replaced Elvira and became an independent principality under the Berber Zirids. Their lands were later incorporated into the empires of the North African Almoravids and Almohads, with Granada serving as an Almoravid capital for a time. After the fall of Córdoba to Christian forces in 1234, Granada was one of the few major Islamic cities left in al-Andalus. In 1238, a local chief, Muhammad al-Ahmar, established himself in Granada, thus founding the Nasrid state which survived until 1492.

On a red sandy terrace above the city, the Nasrids constructed the magnificent Alhambra (Arabic: al-hamra, ‘the red’) palace complex, a testimony to the last flowering of Islamic culture in Spain and a model for then-contemporary Moroccan Marinid architecture. For the Christian monarchs Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, the integrity of their state needed an end to religious diversity. Peaceful attempts at conversion were replaced by more aggressive actions that provoked an uprising among Muslims in Granada and beyond (1499-1502). A stark royal decree of 1502 required all Muslims to accept Christianity or leave the kingdom.

The expulsions of 1609-14 were the last act in this terrible drama. After the conquest of Granada, Ferdinand and Isabella showed an appreciation of Islamic art and architecture. They appropriated the Alhambra for themselves as a royal palace, a status it held until 1868. In 1495 they handed over another Nasrid palace to the Franciscans for use as a monastery. Their grandson, Charles V, added a massive Renaissance palace to the complex. After these additions the Alhambra fell into disrepair, suffering the ravages of earthquake, fire and war. In the 19th century, Orientalists seized on the Alhambra as a literary and visual setting for fantasies of the exotic East. In 1830, Washington Irving published his Tales of the Alhambra, and illustrators such as David Roberts and John Frederick Lewis both painted and sketched the ruined palaces. Ironically Spain again acted as a bridge between Europe and the Islamic world: many Orientalist travellers went to Spain as a prelude to crossing into Morocco, or travelling further east.

Fascination with the exotic flavour of the Alhambra assured its restoration as an important part of Spain’s heritage, and the Franciscan monastery was converted into a Parador in the 20th century. We shall devote our first day in Granada to exploring the Alhambra precincts, which include the fortress, the 14th-century Alhambra palaces, and the Generalife gardens with the summer palace and hunting lodge of the Nasrids. We shall visit the oldest part of the Alhambra, the Alcazaba (Arabic: qasba) the fortress of the complex, which affords a panoramic view of the Granadan plain and the Sierra Nevada. We shall also visit the Nasrid palaces.

These are a superb example of Islamic vernacular architecture with its emphasis on the interior rather than the exterior, and the creation of discrete public and private spaces. Viewed from without, the palace is unprepossessing; its main façade is actually located not on the outer wall but within the Patio del Cuarto Dorado and therefore does not ‘announce’ the presence of a palace in the way that European palace façades do. Messages of power, however, were conveyed by the splendour and spatial organisation of the palace interior that consists of a series of rectangular courtyards centred around pools and fountains with rooms on each side. These courts are connected by corner passages, constructed to block the view from one courtyard to another in order to shield private domestic space, the harem (Arabic: harim), from intrusion.

The best-known courts of the Alhambra are the Court of the Myrtles and the Court of the Lions, which in different ways emphasise the bounteous and heavenly qualities of power. The Court of the Myrtles uses a great pool and trees, later replaced by hedges of myrtle, to evoke paradise, a favourite theme in palatial garden design, whilst the fine stucco-decorated arches and slender columns of the famous Court of the Lions are a skilful re-creation of nature in stone and plaster. The rooms arranged around the Court of the Lions: the Abencerrajes Gallery, the Hall of the Kings and the Hall of the Two Sisters – include some of the most exquisite decoration in the Alhambra. From the Alhambra palaces we shall walk across a terrace to the Generalife (Arabic:  janna al-‘arif), the Nasrids’ summer retreat and hunting lodge.

In the gardens, which rival those of the Villa d’Este in Rome, the tinkling sound of the fountains was intended to complement the architectural aesthetics of the palace. We also visit the Renaissance palace of Charles V whose heavy classical forms contrast with the delicate architecture of the Alhambra.

The rest of the afternoon is at leisure. In the evening we dine at the restaurant Mirador de Morayma, in Granada´s ancient Moorish quarter, the Albaicín, with breathtaking views of the Alhambra. This elegant restaurant features traditional local cuisine and ecological wine produced at the restaurant’s own country estate in the Alpujarra region. (Overnight Granada) BD

Day 7: Friday 27 April, Granada
  • Albaicín
  • Corral del Carbón
  • Capilla Real
  • Cathedral
  • Muslim Baths
  • Afternoon at leisure

This morning we shall explore the city of Granada on a walking tour. We begin by visiting the Albaicín quarter which nestles beneath the protective shadow of the Alhambra. The Albaicín was the last refuge of the Muslims of Granada and traces of its Islamic heritage remain to be discovered, including a beautiful and tranquil bathhouse, and fragments of minarets converted into church towers.

We make our way to the Capilla Real (Royal Chapel), built in flamboyant late Gothic style, which houses the magnificent Renaissance tombs of Ferdinand and Isabella, their daughter Joan ‘the Mad’ and her husband Philip ‘the Handsome’. In the adjacent Sacristy is a dazzling collection of royal regalia and Flemish paintings. We also visit the cathedral, one of Spain’s last, which was envisaged by its founder, Charles V, as a model of the heavenly Jerusalem. Nearby is the commercial and religious centre of Granada: the Corral del Carbón, a 14th-century warehouse and inn for merchants, which is the only one of its type to have survived in Spain, and the Alcaiceria, an area of narrow gridded streets which were once part of the covered market (Arabic: al-Qaysariyya) of the Muslim rulers of Granada.

The afternoon will be at leisure. (Overnight Granada) B

Toledo - 3 nights

Day 8: Saturday 28 April, Granada – Almagro – Consuegra – Toledo
  • Almagro
  • Consuegra (photo opportunity)
  • Evening reception at private palace, Toledo

Today we travel north from Granada through the mountain passes which before Ferdinand III’s conquest of the Guadalquivir Valley separated the Nasrid kingdom from Christian Spain. We emerge from the Sierra Morena onto the flat expanse of the La Mancha plain where Cervantes set his masterpiece, Don Quixote. This area is given over to olive and vine cultivation and, above all, sheep and goat grazing.

Among the products of La Mancha are dry wines and the dry Manchego cheese with which they are drunk. Passing through the mountains, we shall see several small, fortified towns. Our first destination is Almagro, a town of Roman origin and the headquarters of the Order of Calatrava, the oldest and most important Spanish knightly Order. In the 15th and 16th centuries Almagro served as a centre for foreign wool merchants and financiers who exploited nearby mercury mines. It has a distinctive Plaza Mayor surrounded by houses with green wooden balconies of Flemish inspiration.

Following lunchtime at leisure in Almagro, we travel across La Mancha to Toledo, stopping briefly to see Consuegra’s windmills and castle associated in the popular imagination with Don Quixote.

This evening, we visit a beautiful palace and garden in the heart of Toledo with magnificent views of the Cathedral. The palace itself encapsulates the overlap of cultures, where Muslim elements coexist with the Jewish and the Christian, and holds an exquisite collection of art and antiques; in this magical setting, we shall enjoy an aperitif hosted by the owners. (Overnight Toledo) B

Day 9: Sunday 29 April, Toledo
  • Santa María la Blanca
  • El Tránsito
  • El Greco Museum
  • Santo Tomé
  • Afternoon at leisure – optional visit to San Juan de los Reyes

Toledo, located on a high promontory created by a bend in the River Tagus (Spanish: Tajo) is another Spanish city with a multi-layered past. Inhabited since pre-Roman times, Toledo, or Toletum, was a provincial town until the mid-6th century AD when it became the capital of the Visigothic kingdom, and its bishop served as head of the Spanish church. The much-restored Alcázar dominates Toledo’s highest point, an imposing architectural declaration of authority that has persisted here in different forms since Roman antiquity. Toledo was conquered by Muslim armies by 712 and ultimately became part of the Umayyad-ruled al-Andalus, losing its pre-eminence to Cordóba.

During the 8th and 9th centuries the inhabitants (Muslims, recent converts and Christians) of this important frontier city regularly revolted against the central authority. After the collapse of the Cordoban caliphate in the early 11th century, Toledo had a brief existence as an independent Muslim city-state until it fell to Alfonso VI of Castile (1085). Ironically, Christians who had lived under Muslim rule for centuries (now usually called Mozarabs, ‘Arabised’) practising the traditional Visigothic liturgy and speaking Arabic, now found themselves at odds with their new rulers.

Toledo, with its Jewish and Muslim minorities, became the intellectual capital of Christian Spain through the immense work of scholars who translated the books of the Islamic world from Arabic into Latin for the education of Western Europe. Muslim craftsmen created a distinctively Toledan Mudéjar style of architecture, characterised by decorative screenwork realised in brick on the exteriors of churches and bell towers. Toledan Mudéjar can also be found in palaces and churches as well as synagogues (Santa Maria La Blanca and El Tránsito) with stuccowork decoration that mimics, respectively, Almohad and Nasrid styles.

The cathedral, built on the site of the principal mosque, also bears many traces of Toledo’s multi-cultural medieval character, whilst the narrow twisting streets of the old city and its absence of open squares and public spaces perpetuate Muslim and Mudéjar urban-planning. After the expulsion of its minorities (Jews in 1492, Muslim converts to Christianity in 1609) and the loss of political status to Valladolid and Granada and, later, Madrid as capital (from 1561), parochial conservatism replaced Toledo’s cosmopolitan style. In the 16th and 17th centuries a pious aristocracy emerged in the city numbering many mystics in its ranks. Many aristocrats influenced by the Counter-Reformation’s emphasis on good works, spent vast amounts of money adding monastic foundations to the urban fabric, creating an imposing ecclesiastical cordon around the medieval core of Toledo.

On our first day in Toledo, we begin with visits to the two former Mudéjar synagogues of Santa María la Blanca, a 13th-century building which bears a strong similarity to contemporary Almohad architecture further south, and El Tránsito, a 14th-century structure with stucco panels of a similar style to those in the Alcázar of Seville and the Alhambra. El Tránsito also houses a small museum that catalogues the Jewish presence in Spain.

Our program will also include visits to the Church of Santo Tomé, home to El Greco’s famous The Burial of Count Orgaz (c.1586) and the El Greco Museum, containing several of his portraits of apostles and saints, as well as the View and Plan of Toledo.

The rest of the afternoon will be at leisure and you may wish to visit the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes, a fine Isabelline Gothic chapel and cloister originally commissioned by Ferdinand and Isabella to serve as their funeral chapel. (Overnight Toledo) B

Day 10: Monday 30 April, Toledo
  • Toledo Cathedral
  • Hospital de Santa Cruz
  • Posada de la Hermandad (time permitting)
  • Afternoon at leisure

This morning we visit Toledo Cathedral, a Gothic cathedral modelled upon Bourges Cathedral in France, like Burgos and León, but richer than either of these in its architecture and the works of art.

For almost 150 years after Toledo’s conquest in 1085, Christians worshipped in the re-dedicated great mosque. After it was demolished, construction of the cathedral began in 1227. Completed in 1493, the cathedral is overwhelmingly Gothic in style. However, even this self-consciously Gothic Catholic cathedral has distinguishable Mudéjar elements.

Since the 16th century it has been one of the few places where the Visigothic liturgy is celebrated. Later monarchs and state dignitaries embellished the cathedral by the addition of a rich choir, decorated with magnificent stall carvings that depict the conquest of Granada, and sumptuous chapels. We shall look at both the exterior and interior of the cathedral, noting in particular the opulent retablo mayor, the choir and the lateral chapels. We shall also visit the cathedral museum which holds a range of works by El Greco, Titian, Zurbarán, and Ribera, as well as Almohad banners captured at the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212. In the treasury we shall see an illuminated manuscript given by St Louis of France to Alfonso X and a massive Gothic silver-gilt gold monstrance (180 kilograms in weight; 3 metres in height) in the shape of a cathedral spire.

We then visit one of Toledo’s most interesting museums, the Museum of Santa Cruz which is housed in an imposing Renaissance building, a hospital built between 1504 and 1544 for Cardinal Pedro Mendoza. In plan it is a great cross made of four massive intersecting halls. These halls have intricate wooden Mudéjar ceilings and constitute one of the finest interior spaces in Spain.

Time permitting, we also visit the Posada de la Hermandad, the 15th-century inn and headquarters of the Holy Brotherhood, which currently houses a Templar exhibition.

This afternoon is at leisure and you may wish to walk to Cristo de la Luz, a local mosque built on the site of a former Visigothic church and which was converted into a Mudéjar church, after 1085, by the addition of a brick apse built in the same style as the existing structure. (Overnight Toledo) B

Salamanca - 2 nights

Day 11: Tuesday 1 May, Toledo – Segovia – Salamanca
  • Roman Aqueduct
  • Segovia Castle

This morning we depart early for Segovia, a site settled since pre-Roman times. During the early Islamic period, Segovia stood in the marches between the Kingdom of Asturias and Umayyad Córdoba and may have been temporarily deserted.

In the 10th century, the Umayyad caliphs constructed a frontier fortress in the town that subsequently became part of the Ta’ifa kingdom of Toledo. Segovia became Castilian after the fall of Toledo. The transfer of the town from Muslim to Christian hands inaugurated a period of extensive construction. In the 12th and 13th centuries several Romanesque churches were added to the urban fabric, along with the Templar church of La Vera Cruz. In the 14th and 15th centuries the Muslim fortress was rebuilt as a Christian castle and, in the 16th century, a Gothic cathedral with unusual Classical domes was constructed.

At the entrance to the town you will see its Roman aqueduct, a remarkable dry-stone structure, partially destroyed in medieval times and rebuilt by Isabella of Castile in the 15th century. Segovia also has tower houses, comparable to the tower houses of San Gimignano in Italy. We will visit the cathedral and Segovia’s magnificent medieval castle, the model for Disneyland, which was extensively damaged by fire in 1862 then restored according to romantic 19th-century perceptions of how medieval castles looked.

At about 3:30pm we shall depart Segovia and drive northwest to the town of Salamanca in the kingdom of Léon. This evening we dine together at our hotel’s restaurant. The charming Hotel Hospes Palacio de San Esteban is housed in a restored 16th-century convent in the heart of the historical centre of Salamanca. (Overnight Salamanca) BD

Day 12: Wednesday 2 May, Salamanca
  • Old Cathedral (Catedral Vieja)
  • Salamanca University
  • Plaza Mayor
  • Salamanca’s Roman Bridge
  • St Stephen’s Priory – Convento de San Esteban
  • Afternoon at leisure – optional visit to the Casa Lis Museum of Art Nouveau and Art Déco

We spend this morning exploring historic Salamanca, home of Spain’s oldest university, founded in 1218. The university is built from the exquisite local golden stone used throughout the city which, as a result, is known as ‘La Dorada’, ‘the Gilded’.

The university and Salamanca’s two cathedrals, the Romanesque Catedral Vieja, and the Gothic/Renaissance Catedral Nueva, form the intellectual and artistic heart of the city. As a university town, Salamanca was at various times home to St John of the Cross, Columbus, Calderón, Cervantes, Cortés, Lope de Vega, Góngora and Ignatius Loyola.

During our exploration we visit the Catedral Vieja; the University of Salamanca; the Plaza Mayor, one of the finest in Spain and a companion to the Plaza Mayor of Madrid; and the Saint Stephen’s Priory, a monumental 16th-century building where Christopher Columbus stayed (about 1486-1487) and found the support for his first trip. We also walk down to the Tormes River to view the Roman arched bridge which leads into Salamanca. It features a statue of a male pig, an example of pre-Roman Salmantine art, which is of Celtic origin, and is portrayed over the shield of the city. From the bridge there is an excellent view of both the New and Old Cathedrals. It forms part of the ‘Plata’ (Silver) Roman road, that linked Mérida with Astorga.

This afternoon is at leisure and you may wish to visit the modernist palace Casa Lis, which houses the Museum of Art Nouveau and Art Déco. (Overnight Salamanca) B

Madrid - 4 nights

Day 13: Thursday 3 May, Salamanca – Ávila – El Escorial – Madrid
  • San Vicente, Ávila
  • Ávila Cathedral (exterior)
  • Private palace, Ávila
  • The Escorial

We depart today for Ávila, one of the many Spanish towns which began life as a Christian frontier post located in the medieval marches between al-Andalus and the tiny northern Christian kingdoms.

The architecture of Ávila reflects the martial and entrepreneurial spirit of its early inhabitants (soldiers of fortune, aristocrats of modest means and peasants) who were prepared to risk everything to profit from the freedom and opportunities afforded by life on the frontier. The town is encircled by strikingly complete late-11th century walls, whilst inside, the small fortified palaces of its late medieval inhabitants show the same desire for a good life as the late medieval houses of the Italian urban classes. Declared a National Monument in 1884, the walled enclosure dates back to the Middle Ages. In addition to its obvious defensive function, the wall controlled the entrance of provisions and merchandise, and also isolated the city, guarding it against the potential outbreak of a plague or epidemic.

Whilst in Ávila we visit the Romanesque church of San Vicente and view the Cathedral’s exterior. We also enjoy a special tour of a private palace hosted by its owners and view the family archives that have been collected over the centuries.

In the afternoon we depart for Madrid. En route we visit Philip II’s great palace and monastery, El Escorial, set on the southern slopes of the Sierra de Guaderrama in Spain’s heartlands. Philip II commissioned El Escorial to serve as a monarchical retreat in the vicinity of his new capital, Madrid. The complex was dedicated to St. Laurence on whose feast-day Philip’s army had defeated the French at Saint Quentin. It was designed by the Spanish Renaissance architect, Juan de Herrera, in his characteristic controlled and plain style.

The rectilinear plan and form of El Escorial reflect the influence of earlier fortified monastic architecture, but also echoes the grill upon which St. Laurence was martyred. At the Escorial we will visit the basilical church, the royal apartments and the library, one of the oldest libraries in the world, with an exceptional collection of books, codices and manuscripts in Arabic and Latin. We will also see the tombs of the monarchs of Spain and an art collection including works by Titian, Veronese, El Greco and Velázquez. (Overnight Madrid) B

Day 14: Friday 4 May, Madrid
  • Plaza Mayor and City Centre
  • Prado Museum
  • Afternoon at leisure

In 1561 Philip II made Madrid, lying at the strategic centre of Spain, the capital of his empire. Originally a Muslim stronghold protecting the approaches to Toledo, the alcázar was rebuilt by Henry IV as Madrid grew in the mid-15th century. Until the 19th century it remained a small city, flanked by great palaces, the Palacio Real on its western rim, and the Buen Retiro to the east. At its centre was the Plaza Mayor and a number of monastic complexes such as the Descalzas Reales.

This morning we will walk to the Plaza Mayor (1617-1619). Like other public squares, this served as the setting for public displays from bullfighting and public executions to royal proclamations. Madrid’s Plaza Mayor is one of Spain’s finest. On one side, its even façades are interrupted by the Casa de la Panaderia, the headquarters of the bakers’ guild, which functioned as a ‘royal box’ from which the monarch and his family watched the events in the square.

We shall then take a guided tour of the Prado, which holds one of the finest collections of paintings in the world. Among European masterpieces collected by the Spanish monarchs we shall study the works of Hieronymus Bosch and Rubens (Flemish school); Albrecht Dürer (German school); Raphael and Titian (Italian school). The Prado’s greatest treasures, however, are its Spanish paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries. The rooms devoted to Velázquez include such marvels as Las Meninas, the Surrender at Breda, the Habsburg Equestrian Portraits, and the images of court dwarfs. All periods and aspects of Goya’s career are represented here, from the early tapestry cartoons, through his war scenes, royal and aristocratic portraits to the profoundly pessimistic late ‘Black Paintings’. (Overnight Madrid) B

Day 15: Saturday 5 May, Madrid
  • Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid
  • Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum
  • Afternoon at leisure

We begin with a visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens, established by Charles III and designed by Francesco Sabatini and Juan de Villanueva, architect of the Prado. It is understandable that the ruler of a great empire in the Americas should be interested in collecting exotic species. Charles III, in fact, financed plant-collecting expeditions to Mexico, Columbia, Peru and Chile. Despite the fact that the garden lost many valuable trees in a tornado in 1886, most of its important exhibits remain. The garden is shaded by large specimens of tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima), cork oaks, camphor trees, eucalyptus, olives, European field elms and mulberries, walnuts, nettle trees and crape myrtle, among many others.

We shall then explore the brilliant Thyssen Collection, one of the finest private art collections in Europe, which has found a permanent home in Madrid. This collection includes Italian and Flemish primitive art; Italian Renaissance and Baroque paintings; French and German works from the 18th to 20th centuries. A special feature of the collection is a wonderful group of Flemish and German Renaissance portraits and some masterpieces from the Venetian Renaissance.

The rest of the afternoon is at leisure. (Overnight Madrid) B

Day 16: Sunday 6 May, Madrid
  • Reina Sofía Museum
  • CaixaForum Madrid
  • Afternoon at leisure

Our first visit today is to Madrid’s museum of modern art, the Reina Sofía Museum. Here we will see Picasso’s Guernica, which was painted in 1937 after the bombing of the Basque town during the civil war. At the artist’s behest, it was held in New York’s Museum of Modern Art until the end of the Franco regime in Spain. We will explore Picasso’s debt to the Spanish tradition in this work.

A short walk away is the extraordinary post-modern art museum funded by the Catalan bank, the Caixa de Cataluña. The museum is housed in a converted 1899 power station opposite the Prado. Acquired by the Caixa Foundation in 2001, this is one of Madrid’s few extant examples of historically significant industrial architecture. An insignificant gas station was demolished to create a small plaza between the Paseo del Prado and the new Caixaforum. A 24-metre high vertical garden, designed in collaboration with the botanist Patrick Blanc, takes up one wall of the square.

This afternoon is at leisure. (Overnight Madrid) B

Barcelona - 4 nights

Day 17: Monday 7 May, Madrid – Barcelona
  • High-Speed AVE train from Madrid to Barcelona
  • The Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site
  • La Sagrada Familia

Early this morning we take the High-Speed AVE train to Barcelona, capital of Catalonia.

On arrival we visit the Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site, a masterpiece of early 20th-century Spanish architecture and the most important work of Catalan architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, who also designed the Palau de la Musica concert hall. Built between 1905 and 1930, the site originally housed the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, a revolutionary hospital complex comprised of 27 pavilions surrounded by gardens and interconnected by a system of tunnels that were used to transfer patients from operating rooms to the wards. Architect Lluis Domènech i Montaner believed that trees and flowers and fresh air were likely to help people recover from what ailed them more than anything doctors could do in sterile surroundings. Domènech also believed in the therapeutic properties of form and colour, and decorated the hospital with Pau Gargallo sculptures and colourful mosaics, replete with motifs of hope and healing and healthy growth. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, the Hospital de Sant Pau was a functional hospital until 2003, and recently underwent a major renovation and restoration to transform it into a museum and cultural center.

Following our tour of this wonderful modernist complex, we travel a short distance to Antoni Gaudí’s unfinished Temple de la Sagrada Familia, a building he considered to be his finest work and which has become an emblem of Barcelona. (Overnight Barcelona) B

Day 18: Tuesday 8 May, Barcelona
  • Parc Guëll
  • Casa Milà – La Pedrera
  • Passeig de Gracia (exteriors)
  • Palau Guëll
  • Maritime Museum
  • Evening performance at the Palau de la Música Catalana

This morning we visit a number of buildings designed by Barcelona’s most famous architect, Antoni Gaudí. Gaudí’s work grew out of Barcelona’s strong commercial and bourgeois tradition of civic pride, expressed in the late 19th century in an ambitious project of urban expansion known as the Eixample. Gaudí was also deeply involved in designing buildings for the city centre and for the new outer suburbs of Barcelona.

Gaudí’s buildings re-interpreted traditional Catalan emblems such as St. George, the patron saint of Catalonia, and wove them into his own daring and idiosyncratic version of the Gothic revival style.St. George, his spear and the dragon appear in multiple forms in Gaudí’s work, from Casa Milà’s chimneys constructed in the form of medieval armoured knights to his undulating, multi-coloured tiled roofs which evoke the twisting torso of the dragon.

We first drive to the Parc Güell. This fascinating mix of terraced garden and eccentric architecture was an attempt to create an exclusive garden suburb overlooking Barcelona. There are buildings, grand terraces, garden sculptures and vaulted halls covered with extraordinary ceramic ‘mosaics’; discarded shards from a ceramics factory. Gaudí’s major patrons were from the family of bankers after whom the park is named.

We also see several of Gaudí residences in the heart of Barcelona and its 19th-century suburbs including the Casa Milà (also known as ‘la Pedrera’) an apartment block whose forms wave and bend as though from a submarine landscape. The Casa Milà now holds a very important display of the architect’s work and we shall take a walk on its roof, with its strange chimneys in the forms of medieval knights. Travelling down the Passeig de Gracia, we look at three important modernist buildings called collectively ‘La Mansa de Discordia’ (the Apple of Discord): Casa Batlló by Antoni Gaudí (where the roof takes the form of the spine of a dragon), the Casa Amatller of Joseph Puig I Cadafalch and the Casa Lleó Morera of Lluis Domènech I Montaner (exteriors only). Our program will end with a tour of the Palau Guëll which possesses one of Gaudí’s finest interiors.

Following time at leisure for lunch, we visit Barcelona’s fascinating Maritime Museum, housed in the original grand buildings in which the Catalan fleet was constructed. Of particular interest is a full-size replica of the flagship of Don Juan, victor of the Battle of Lepanto. In 1571, Venetian and Spanish fleets defeated the Turkish fleet at the mouth of the Adriatic, severely compromising Ottoman naval power in the Mediterranean.

The rest of the afternoon is free and you may wish to further explore Barcelona’s waterfront and Olympic marina, which features a giant golden fish sculpture ‘El Peix’ by Frank Gehry.

Tonight we attend a performance of Franck’s Sonata performed by violinist Sergey Khachatryan. The performance will take place at the Palau de la Música Catalana, a concert hall built between 1905 and 1908 by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, as a headquarters for the Orfeó Català. The building, funded by popular donations, constitutes a symbolic and sentimental heritage of an entire city that identifies with its history. (Overnight Barcelona) B

Day 19: Wednesday 9 May, Barcelona
  • Fundació Joan Miró
  • Lunch at Òleum Restaurant, Museo Nacional de Arte de Catalunya
  • Museo Nacional de Arte de Catalunya

Today we begin with a visit to the Miró Foundation, which holds major late works by the artist. We then travel to the nearby National Museum of Catalan Art, where we shall enjoy lunch at the museum’s restaurant, Òleum. Located in the old Throne Room of the Palau Nacional, from where the King Alfons XIII inaugurated the International Exposition of 1929, the restaurant specialises in Mediterranean and Catalan cuisine and boasts spectacular views of Barcelona.

After lunch we visit the National Museum of Catalan Art whose collections give a breathtaking overview of 1000 years of Catalan art. The highlight is a magnificent assembly of Romanesque wall paintings removed from churches in remote Pyrenean valleys. Besides an impressive Gothic display, the renovated museum houses paintings from the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection as well as Old Masters from the Cambó bequest and Modernist paintings. (Overnight Barcelona) BL

Day 20: Thursday 10 May, Barcelona
  • Barri Gòtic
  • Barcelona Cathedral & Cloister
  • Picasso Museum
  • Farewell lunch at Montiel Espaigastronòmic Restaurant
  • Afternoon at leisure

This morning we take a walk through Barcelona’s old ‘Gothic Quarter’, the Barri Gòtic, a medieval quarter of narrow streets and urban palaces. We also visit the old cathedral of Barcelona, a Catalan Gothic building characterised by the delicacy of its slender pillars. The cathedral contains an exquisite High Gothic choir, and several religious paintings, as well as a tranquil cloister lined with small chapels.

We then explore the converted Gothic palaces which house the Picasso Museum. It contains works from many stages of Picasso’s life, from his adolescence to his old age. The range of works on display amply proves the point that, despite French claims that Picasso belonged to the School of Paris, much of his work was inspired by 19th-century Spanish art. The museum incorporates adolescent works by the artist that demonstrate his extraordinary precociousness. There are paintings from his early Parisian period, demonstrating an early debt to Toulouse-Lautrec, and a number of masterpieces from the Blue and Rose periods. There is also a group of later works including Picasso’s highly individual studies of Velazquez’s masterpiece Las Meninas.

Our program concludes with a farewell lunch at ‘Montiel Espaigastronòmic’, a small restaurant located near to the Picasso Museum, providing an artistic atmosphere with excellent traditional Spanish cuisine. (Overnight Barcelona) BL

Day 21: Friday 11 May, Depart Barcelona
  • Airport transfer for those travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flight

Our tour finishes in Barcelona. Participants departing Barcelona on the ASA ‘designated’ flight will transfer by coach to Barcelona airport. Alternatively, you may wish to extend your stay in Spain. Please contact ASA if you require further assistance. B


21-day Cultural Tour of Spain

ASA has selected 4- and 5-star hotels that are themselves historical buildings and/or are located in historical centres. All hotels provide rooms with en suite bathroom. Double/twin rooms for single occupancy may be requested – and are subject to availability and payment of the Double (as Single) Supplement. A hotel list will be given to all participants prior to departure.

  • Seville (4 nights): 4-star Las Casas de la Judería – housed in the former palace of the Duke of Béjar, patron of Cevantes. Built in the traditional manner around courtyards with gardens and fountains, it is located in the heart of the Santa Cruz district.
  • Granada (3 nights): 4-star Melia Granada – located close to the Cathedral and Capilla Real.
  • Toledo (3 nights): 4-star Hotel San Juan de los Reyes – housed in a former flour-mill, with a Neo-Mudejar façade dating from the 19th century, it is located in the historic Jewish quarter.
  • Salamanca (2 nights): 5-star Hotel Hospes Palacio de San Esteban – located in a restored 16th-century convent in the heart of the historical centre.
  • Madrid (4 nights): 4-star Hotel Liabeny – situated 100 metres from the Gran Via, Plaza de Callao and Puerta del Sol.
  • Barcelona (4 nights): 4-star Hotel Colon – located in the heart of the Gothic quarter, directly opposite Barcelona’s famous cathedral.

Note: Hotels are subject to change, in which case a hotel of similar standard will be provided.

Double (as Single) Supplement

Payment of this supplement will ensure accommodation in a room for single occupancy throughout the tour. This will be a double (or twin) room for single occupancy in some hotels, and a ‘superior’ single room in others. The number of rooms available for single occupancy is extremely limited. People wishing to take this supplement are therefore advised to book well in advance.

How to book

Make a Reservation


Please complete the ASA RESERVATION APPLICATION and send it to Australians Studying Abroad together with your non-refundable deposit of AUD $500.00 per person payable to Australians Studying Abroad.

Passport Details

All participants must provide no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the program a photocopy of the front page of their current passport.

Double (as Single) Supplement

Payment of this supplement will ensure accommodation in a room for single occupancy throughout the tour. This will be a double (or twin) room for single occupancy in some hotels, and a ‘superior’ single room in others. The number of rooms available for single occupancy is extremely limited. People wishing to take this supplement are therefore advised to book well in advance.

Gallery Tour Map
Physical Endurance & Practical Information
Physical Rating

The number of flags is a guide to the degree of difficulty of ASA tours relative to each other (not to those of other tour companies). It is neither absolute nor literal. One flag is given to the least taxing tours, seven to the most. Flags are allocated, above all, according to the amount of walking and standing each tour involves. Nevertheless, all ASA tours require that participants have a good degree of fitness enabling 2-3 hours walking or 1-1.5 hours standing still on any given site visit or excursion. Many sites are accessed by climbing slopes or steps and have uneven terrain.

This 21-day Cultural Tour of Spain involves:

  • An extensive amount of walking at sites where you will encounter steps, cobbled streets, slopes and steep paths.
  • Standing during museum and other site visits.
  • The use of audio headsets which amplify the voice of your guide (despite noisy surroundings). This technology also allows you to move freely during site visits without missing any information.
  • 4- and 5-star hotels with five hotel changes.
  • You must be able to carry your own hand luggage. Hotel porterage includes 1 piece of luggage per person at hotels.
  • This tour involves moderate-distance coach travel, High-Speed AVE train between Madrid and Barcelona.

It is important to remember that ASA programs are group tours, and slow walkers affect everyone in the group. As the group must move at the speed of the slowest member, the amount of time spent at a site may be reduced if group members cannot maintain a moderate walking pace. ASA tours should not present any problem for active people who can manage day-to-day walking and stair-climbing. However, if you have any doubts about your ability to manage on a program, please ask your ASA travel consultant whether this is a suitable tour for you.

Please note: it is a condition of travel that all participants agree to accept ASA’s directions in relation to their suitability to participate in activities undertaken on the tour, and that ASA retains the sole discretion to direct a tour participant to refrain from a particular activity on part of the tour. For further information please refer to the Terms and Conditions section given below.

Practical Information

Prior to departure, tour members will receive practical notes which include information on visa requirements, health, photography, weather, clothing and what to pack, custom regulations, bank hours, currency regulations, electrical appliances and food. The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for travellers:

Tour Price & Inclusions

AUD $10,280.00 Land Content Only – Early-Bird Special: Book before 30 June 2017

AUD $10,480.00 Land Content Only

AUD $1740.00 Double (as Single) Supplement

For competitive Economy, Business or First Class airfares and/or group airfares please contact ASA for further information.

Tour Price (Land Content Only) includes:
  • Accommodation in twin-share rooms with private facilities in 4- and 5-star hotels
  • Breakfast daily, lunches and evening meals as indicated in the itinerary where B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=evening meal
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included.
  • Transportation by air-conditioned coach
  • Airport-hotel transfers if travelling on ASA ‘designated’ flights
  • First Class High-Speed AVE train from Madrid to Barcelona (Day 17)
  • Porterage of one piece of luggage per person at hotels (not at airports or railway stations)
  • Evening Performance at the Palau de la Música Catalana
  • Lecture and site-visit program
  • Tour handbook
  • Entrance fees
  • Use of audio headsets for site excursions
  • Tips for the coach driver, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tour Price (Land Content Only) does not include:
  • Airfare: Australia-Seville, Barcelona-Australia
  • Personal spending money
  • Airport-hotel transfers if not travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights
  • Luggage in excess of 20kg (44lbs)
  • Travel insurance
Terms & Conditions

A deposit of $500.00 AUD per person is required to reserve a place on an ASA tour.

Cancellation Fees

If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:

  • More than 75 days before departure: $500.00**
  • 75-46 days prior 25% of total amount due
  • 45-31 days prior 50% of total amount due
  • 30-15 days prior 75% of total amount due
  • 14-0 days prior 100% of total amount due

**This amount may be credited to another ASA tour departing within 12 months of the original tour you booked. We regret, in this case early-bird discounts will not apply.

We take the day on which you cancel as being that on which we receive written confirmation of cancellation.

Unused Portions of the Tour

We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.

Will the Tour Price or Itinerary Change?

If the number of participants on a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates ASA reserves the right to amend the advertised price. We shall, however, do all in our power to maintain the published price. If an ASA tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all tour monies paid. Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of ASA make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes in due course.

Travel Insurance

ASA requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. A copy of your travel insurance certificate and the reverse charge emergency contact phone number must be received by ASA no later than 75 days prior to the commencement of the tour.

Final Payment

The balance of the tour price will be due 75 days prior to the tour commencement date.

Limitation of Liability

ASA is not a carrier, event or tourist attraction host, accommodation or dining service provider. All bookings made and tickets or coupons issued by ASA for transport, event, accommodation, dining and the like are issued as an agent for various service providers and are subject to the terms and conditions and limitations of liability imposed by each service provider. ASA is not responsible for their products or services. If a service provider does not deliver the product or service for which you have contracted, your remedy lies with the service provider, not ASA.

ASA will not be liable for any claim (eg. sickness, injury, death, damage or loss) arising from any change, delay, detention, breakdown, cancellation, failure, accident, act, omission or negligence of any such service provider however caused (contingencies). You must take out adequate travel insurance against such contingencies.

ASA’s liability in respect of any tour will be limited to the refund of amounts received from you less all non-refundable costs and charges and the costs of any substituted event or alternate services provided. The terms and conditions of the relevant service provider from time to time comprise the sole agreement between you and that service provider.

ASA reserves the sole discretion to cancel any tour or to modify itineraries in any way it considers appropriate. Tour costs may be revised, subject to unexpected price increases or exchange rate fluctuations.

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