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Highlights of Jewish Spain 11 nights

Highlights of Jewish Spain 11 nights

MAP OF THIS ITINERARY

Trip Overview:

On this private 11-night Jewish highlights tour you’ll travel to places that celebrate the Golden Age in Medieval Spain when the Spanish Jewish community lived and prospered in all of Spain’s great cities. Featuring expert guided private tours, it begins in Barcelona. In addition to seeing the Jewish sites in the Catalonian capital, you...

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Trip Summary:

Barcelona 3 nights - Cordoba 1 night - Granada 2 nights - Seville 2 nights - Madrid 3 nights ...

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Access:

Daily departures.

Arrive into Barcelona International Airport. Depart from Madrid or vice versa.

Totally Spain does not arrange International Flights so you have the flexibility to book the flights you prefer. We can recommend a US travel agent with whom you can book your international flights if required. Otherwise a website such as Skyscanner is very useful for checking up-to-date flight schedules and prices.

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Itinerary

Barcelona, Spain

Arrive in Barcelona International Airport. You’ll be met at the airport by your private driver who will transfer you to your centrally located 4-star Barcelona hotel.

Barcelona is without doubt one of Europe's most exciting cities.  It is a place of extraordinary architectural dazzle, achieved by what has been called both Catalán Art Nouveau and Modernisme, by architects Gaudi, Domenech i Montaner and Puig i Cadafalch.  Monumental sculptures by local masters like Joan Miró adorn public spaces, and museums house extraordinary treasures ranging from works of the ancient Romans to those of Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí.  The city is further enhanced by brightly colored outdoor markets, a magnificent Mediterranean port , and a plentiful array of stylish restaurants.  Needless to say, the nightlife is splendid.

This afternoon is at leisure to get settled in and adjusted to Spanish time.



Activities & Services Included today

  • Private transfer from Barcelona airport to your Barcelona hotel
  • 4 star hotel accommodation in a standard room. Upgrade available on request

Barcelona, Spain

This morning after breakfast you’ll be met at your hotel by your expert local guide, who will escort you on a tour of the former Jewish quarter in Barcelona known as El Call (from the Hebrew for ‘kahal’ meaning community). As you walk your guide will bring to life the history of these medieval streets. You’ll learn where the original synagogue and the kosher butcher were located. It is believed that up to four synagogues were located in this city. You’ll be shown Hebrew letters and inscriptions on other buildings around the city. You’ll track the history of the community from a position of great respect in the 11th century to segregation in the 14th century and forced conversion or expulsion in the 15th.

After lunch (not included)  you are joined again by your guide and a driver. Your tour this afternoon is of Antoni Gaudi’s architecture.  You'll visit inside sights including Parc Guell and the Sagrada Familia (construction started in 1882 and still continues to this day!) before going to the Paseo de Gracia to see the exterior of La Pedrera (Casa Mila) with your guide.  Afterwards you'll visit the interior independently at your leisure.

 

 

Activities & Services Included today

  • Private full day tour in Barcelona with expert, English speaking guide (with a short break for lunch)
  • Private chauffeur and car for half-day.
  • Pre-Booked Entrance tickets for Sagrada Familia
  • Pre-Booked Entrance tickets for La Pedrera (Casa Mila)
  • Pre-Booked Entrance tickets for Park Güell
  • 4 star hotel accommodation in a standard room. Upgrade available on request


Meals Included today

  • Full Buffet Breakfast

Barcelona - Daytrip to Girona, Spain

Daytrip to Girona & Besalu

Today you’ll visit the city of Girona and the town of Besalu. You’ll be collected by your private driver and guide at your hotel and continue to Girona.

The Jewish community in Girona dates back to 890. It was a very important Jewish centre during the Middle Ages and it still has the best-preserved and most important Jewish quarter in Spain. The site was discovered accidently by a property developer. Some of the families expelled in 1492 had bricked off or closed off their properties believing they would return some time in the future. Catholic neighbours were reluctant to re-open these properties fearing they might be considered Jews themselves and so the area was entombed. In the late 1970s, when the old town was being re-gentrified, a land purchaser discovered the remains of Nahmanides’ yeshiva.

Your guide will take you from the main street (which was a Roman Road) to the archways and narrow paths between stone buildings. As you travel through the old walkways where the sunlight doesn’t reach – you will feel like you have walked back in time. In the heart of this quarter is a new educational and cultural complex called the Bonastruc Ca Porta Centre, which recreates Jewish life through art exhibits, musical events and food tastings. Surrounding a patio on the site of an ancient synagogue, the complex includes a Catalan Museum of Jewish Culture, the Institute for Sephardic and Kabbalistic Studies, and a library that houses important medieval Jewish manuscripts.

After lunch (not included) in Girona, you’ll travel to Besalu – a stunning town which first welcomed its Jewish community in the 9th century. In fact, Girona’s first Jewish community came from here.

Near the Mihah, where most Jews lived, you’ll see the site of the synagogue that was built in 1264. Although there are no remains of the synagogue, the place is still called ‘Pla dels Jueus’ or Place of the Jews.

You’ll visit the 12th century mikvah (ritual Jewish bath), one of the only three from the same period that have been kept in Europe – which was discovered in 1964. This mikvah is a stone room with 36 steps where strategically placed openings allow the rising river to flood it to the correct water level each spring and fall.

Return to Barcelona in the evening.

Activities & Services Included today

  • Private chauffeur and car from your Barcelona hotel to Girona & Besalú
  • Full day service of an expert, English speaking guide
  • Pre-Booked entrance tickets for the Cathedral in Girona
  • Pre-Booked entrance tickets for the Jewish Museum in Girona
  • Pre-Booked entrance tickets for the Mikve in Besalú
  • 4 star hotel accommodation in a standard room. Upgrade available on request.

Meals Included today

  • Full Buffet Breakfast

Barcelona - Cordoba (by High Speed Train), Spain

Today following breakfast you'll be transferred from your hotel to Barcelona train station for your high-speed train to Cordoba famous for its well-preserved Jewish quarter and the mighty Mezquita (mosque-cathedral). A driver will meet you upon arrival and transfer you to your centrally located hotel.

This afternoon meet your expert local Cordoba guide at your hotel and spend the afternoon exploring the city that was the great Moorish capital of Al Andalus. A walk around the old Jewish quarter gives the sensation that little has changed since the 10th century. Visit the Mosque-Cathedral or Mezquita which is without doubt one of the most famous constructions in all of Andalusia and is one of the largest mosques in the Islamic world. The original Mosque was built between 786 and 788 by Abd ar-Rahman, but over the centuries, many additions and extensions have been made. Following the Christian conquest it was consecrated as a Cathedral in 1236.

Visit the Synagogue built in 1314, a beautiful Mudejar building nearly perfectly preserved and the only synagogue in Spain from that time not to have been turned into a Christian building. See Almodovar gate or ‘Gate of the Jews’ as it is known locally and the monument to the great Jewish doctor and philosopher, Maimonides. You will also visit the Casa Sefarad, a cultural project concerned with Judeo-Spanish culture, history and tradition that through it’s unique collection and cultural activities aims to make known the rich legacy of the Sephardic tradition. The exhibition on Sephardic food surprises most contemporary Spaniards who don’t know that staples such as ‘cocido’ stew is of Jewish origin.

Later at your leisure we recommend a walk to the Roman bridge across the Guadalquivir river. You may wish to visit the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos (Fortress of the Christian Monarchs) a Mudejar palace from 14th century with a beautiful Moorish garden complex, which served as the seat of the Inquisition´s Tribunal in the 15th century. Try to see a number of the beautiful courtyard patios also.

Note that the third week in June is when the annual International Sephardi Music Festival takes place in Cordoba’s Botanic Gardens. 

Activities & Services Included today

  • Private transfer from your Barcelona Hotel to Barcelona train station
  • High speed train from Barcelona to Cordoba train station to your Cordoba hotel
  • Private Half-Day Walking tour in Cordoba with expert, English speaking guide
  • Pre-Booked Entrance tickets for the Mosque-Cathedral
  • Pre-Booked Entrance tickets for the Synagogue
  • Pre-Booked Entrance tickets for Casa Sefarad
  • 4 star hotel accommodation in a standard room. Upgrade available on request


Meals Included today

  • Full Buffet Breakfast

Granada, Spain

This morning after breakfast you will be transferred to Cordoba Train station to take the high speed train across the Andalucian countryside to Granada, the last stronghold of the Moors in Andalusia. A private driver will meet you upon arrival and transfer you to your centrally located Granada hotel.

Granada is perhaps most famous for its exquisite Alhambra Place, a complex of palaces built around courtyards of flowering trees, pools and fountains.  It’s often hailed as the most exciting, sensual and romantic of all European monuments. Set on a wooded hill above Granada city, the Alhambra Palace was built in the 14th century by the sultans of Granada, rulers of the last Muslim kingdom in Al-Andalus. It reveals the brilliance and spirit of the Moorish culture in Andalusia at a time when the rest of Europe was only just beginning to emerge from the Dark Ages.

This afternoon you will be met by your expert local guide who will take you on a walking tour of the old quarter of Granada. You’ll learn that the Jewish community lived in Granada in perfect freedom until the first persecution in 1066 when the entire Jewish population fled or was killed. You’ll hear about the Treaty of Granada in 1491 (signed by Queen Isabella and Emir Muhammas XII) that protected religious freedom and you’ll find out that it was revoked by the Alhambra Decree in 1492.  You'll also see the cathedral and Royal Tombs, burial place of the Spanish monarchs, Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand, the so-called Catholic Monarchs.

You’ll be taken to the Realejo also known as the Juderia or Jewish Quarter during the Muslim period of rule. The old gates and walls have not survived but the upper parts of the Quarter retain some if its original labyrinthine layout – a feature of Moorish urban design. Here you'll visit Sephardic House - a privately-run Sephardic museum that opened in 2014.

Activities & Services Included today

  • Private transfer from your Cordoba hotel to Cordoba train station
  • High speed train from Cordoba to Granada - Tourist class
  • Transfer from Granada train station to your Granada hotel
  • Private Half-Day Walking tour in Granada with expert, English speaking guide
  • Pre-Booked Entrance tickets for the Cathedral
  • Pre-Booked Entrance tickets for the Royal Tombs
  • Pre-Booked Entrance tickets for Sephardic House
  • Five tickets for the Local buses
  • 4 star hotel accommodation in a standard room. Upgrade available on request

Meals Included today

  • Full Buffet Breakfast

Granada, Spain

Today, following breakfast, you’ll be transferred privately from your hotel to the Alhambra Palace to meet your expert guide for a peaceful private guided visit of the Alhambra Palace and Generalife Gardens.

This complex of palaces built around courtyards of flowering trees, pools and fountains is often hailed as the most exciting, sensual and romantic of all European monuments. It’s beauty shows the brilliance and spirit of the Moorish culture in Andalusia at a time when the rest of Europe was only just beginning to emerge from the Dark Ages. You will also tour the Generalife - the Summer palace and gardens of the Sultans. It is one of the oldest surviving Moorish gardens. Prepare to be wowed by the water features and courtyards.

This afternoon is at leisure to relax and enjoy Granada.  Perhaps go for lunch at a ‘Carmen’ (a traditional Granada house with a large garden of vines and fruit trees) with stunning views of the Alhambra in the Albaicin or maybe enjoy refreshments in the open air with some of Granada’s legendary tapas.

 

Activities & Services Included today

  • Private transfer from your Granada hotel to Alhambra Palace
  • Private Half-Day Walking tour of the Alhambra Palace & Gardens with expert, English speaking guide
  • Pre-Booked Entrance tickets for the Alhambra Palace & Gardens
  • Five tickets for the Local buses
  • 4 star hotel accommodation in a standard room. Upgrade available on request


Meals Included today

  • Full Buffet Breakfast

Seville, Spain

This morning, after breakfast and checking out, you’ll once again be met at your hotel by a private driver who will transfer you to Granada bus station where you will take a comfortable motorcoach to Seville.  Upon arrival you'll be met by a private driver who will transfer you to your centrally located Seville hotel

This afternoon is at leisure. If you are interested in Mudejar buildings we recommend a visit to the Casa de Pilatos, completed in 1540 and situated in the Barrio Santa Cruz (the old Jewish quarter).

This evening you’ll attend a flamenco performance, the musical roots of which are many including Jewish, gypsy and moorish along with European and African influences.

 

Activities & Services Included today

  • Private transfer from your Granada Hotel to Granada bus station
  • Bus tickets Granada to Seville
  • Private transfer from Seville bus station to your hotel in Seville
  • Pre-Booked Flamenco show in Seville (1 hour duration)
  • 4 star hotel accommodation in a standard room. Upgrade available on request


Meals Included today

  • Full Buffet Breakfast

Seville, Spain

Your private guided visit today will focus on the history of the Jews not only in Seville but also in Spain.  Your guide will take you through the former Jewish Quarter that encompasses the neighbourhoods of Santa Cruz, Santa María la Blanca and San Bartolomé while providing you an insight into all aspects of Judaism in Seville - the first city in Spain to where the jews returned after 1860 and settled down again, creating the first jewish community of Spain following the expulsion in 1492.  Seville’s Jewish community, although very small today, was the second largest after Toledo.

Your tour of the key Jewish sites will include the Santa Cruz Square; location of the old synagogue that became a Christian church after 1391 – it was sadly destroyed in 1811. You’ll visit the former synagogue-church of Santa Maria la Blanca – built in 1252.  You’ll also be shown the church of San Bartolome. It survived the fate of the previous two synagogues in the late 14th century but by 1490 was remodeled. You’ll also visit three gates – De la Carne, San Nicolas and Meson del Moro - which provided access to the Jewish Quarter. And you will be taken to the site of the Cano and Cueto cemetery also.

Following your tour enjoy lunch and afterwards enjoy an independent visit with pre-booked tickets to the stunning Alcazar, the site of the marriage between Carlos V and Isabel of Portugal in 1526. Every period from the Arabic to Mudejar, Renaissance, Baroque and more is on display in this UNESCO-listed site that is still used by the Spanish Royal Family when in Seville.

Later you may wish to learn a little about the city’s connection with the Discovery of the New World. We recommend a visit to the Indias Archive located in what used to be the Mercaderes Market built in 1572. Inside you’ll find many invaluable documents that give context to the first voyage of Christopher Columbus undertaken in 1492 (the same year of the expulsion) and the trade links that followed.

Activities & Services Included today

  • Private Half-Day Walking tour in Seville with expert, English speaking guide (focused on the Jewish heritage)
  • Pre-Booked Entrance tickets for the Alcazar
  • 4 star hotel accommodation in a standard room. Upgrade options available on request

Meals Included today

  • Full Buffet Breakfast

 

Seville - Madrid (by High Speed Train), Spain

Today after breakfast you will be transferred to Seville train station to take the high speed train to Madrid. A driver will meet you on arrival and transfer you to your centrally located hotel.

The remainder of the day is at leisure.  Your pre-booked entrance ticket to the Prado Museum could be used this afternoon if you wish or tomorrow.

There is a small but active Jewish community in Madrid. The main centre is the Beth Yaacov Synagogue on Calle Balmes where there is a small museum that can be visited.   Note that kosher cuisine is readily available from several establishments near the synagogue.

Madrid stands at the very centre of Spain –geographically, culturally and politically. Madrid capital not only offers the culture and good times of a sophisticated, modern city but it also retains the charm and elegance of its early years. The power and glory of Madrid is reflected in its parks, plazas, boulevards and in the pride and panache of today’s Madrilenos. For all its international veneer, however, the city remains thoroughly Spanish, and Old Madrid has been designed on a human scale rather than a monumental scale.

Among the splendid attractions of Madrid are the Prado Museum; home to masterworks of Goya, Velazquez and El Greco: the 19th century Villahermosa Palace now the Thyssen-Bornemizsa Museum; the Reina Sofia Art Centre showcasing more than 300 modern works by Dali, Miro &  Picasso among others; the 18th century Royal Palace on the lovely Plaza de Oriente; the bustling Puerta del Sol with its many shops, restaurants and tapas bars; Rastro Market on Sundays one of the oldest outdoor markets in Europe; and Retiro Park for strolling while admiring local artists and buskers.

 

Activities & Services Included today

  • Private transfer from your Seville Hotel to Seville train station
  • High speed train from Seville to Madrid - Tourist class
  • Private transfer from Madrid train station to your Madrid hotel
  • Pre-Booked Entrance tickets for the Prado Museum (open date & entry time plus skip-the-line)
  • 4 star hotel accommodation in a standard room. Upgrade available on request


Meals Included today

  • Full Buffet Breakfast

Madrid, Spain

This morning you will be met by your expert local guide for a walking tour of Madrid.

Tour the historic Hapsburg Quarter and see Madrid’s magnificent plazas such as the Plaza de Oriente where you visit inside the Royal Palace, the Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol, the San Miguel market, Cibeles Fountain and more.

 

 

 

 

 

Activities & Services Included today

  • Private Half-Day Walking tour in Madrid with expert, English speaking guide
  • Pre-Booked Entrance tickets for the Royal Palace
  • 4 star hotel accommodation in a standard room. Upgrade available on request

Meals Included today

  • Full Buffet Breakfast

Madrid - Daytrip to Toledo, Spain

Today your destination is Toledo. You'll be transferred from your hotel to Madrid train station to board the high speed train to Toledo.  Upon arrival you’ll meet our expert local guide who will first take you by taxi to the Cigarrales area for some magnificent panoramic views of Toledo city over the Tagus River.

Toledo, the former capital of Spain and the stronghold of Castilian kings was, just before the expulsion, one of the leading centres of Jewry in Spain the `Jerusalem of the west´. One of the most beautifully preserved medieval cities in all of Europe, it was the site of the famed `school of translators´ of King Alfonso `The Wise´ and here Muslims, Jews and Christians coexisted in harmony for centuries. In the 14th century, after the Jews had been expelled, eight of the citys ten synagogues and its five Talmudic schools were destroyed. The remaining synagogues were converted into churches.  One was the Samuel Halevi Abulafia Synagogue known nowadays as Nuestro Señora del Transito. Built in 1357 it is full of Moorish carvings, arcades and a beautiful panelled wooden ceiling. Two years after the expulsion it became a Catholic Church and, since 1972, a Sephardic Museum with historic Hebrew inscriptions. The other is Santa Maria La Blanca ( formerly the Grand Synagogue ) which is now empty. It was built by Arabs in the 12th century and appears more like a mosque than a synagogue.  The previously mentioned School of Translators, where Jews used their knowledge of Arabic and Hebrew to translate philosophical and scientific works into Latin and Spanish, can still be seen in the Plaza Santa Isabel.

Your guide will lead you on a walking tour exploring the old city while you learn about the three cultures that lived side by side during the Middles Ages and see the most important sights in Toledo including Zocodover Square, Alcazar of Toledo, Santo Tome Church,Transito Synagogue, Santa Maria La Blanca and cathedral (entrance included).

Free time for lunch and sightseeing at your leisure before returning to Madrid by high speed train where you will be met by your driver and transferred back to your hotel.

Activities & Services Included today

  • Private transfer from Madrid Hotel to Madrid train station
  • High speed train from Madrid to Toledo - Tourist class
  • Private transfer from Toledo train station to the city center with panoramic views along the way
  • Private Half-Day Walking tour in Toledo with expert, English speaking guide (focused on the Jewish heritage)
  • Pre-Booked entrance tickets for the Synagogue Santa Maria la Blanca
  • Pre-Booked entrance ticket for the Synagogue of El Transito
  • Pre-Booked entrance ticket for the Cathedral
  • High speed train from Toledo to Madrid - Tourist class
  • Private transfer from Madrid train station to your Madrid hotel
  • 4 star hotel accommodation in a standard room. Upgrade available on request

Meals Included today

  • Full Buffet Breakfast

 

Departure,

After breakfast you’ll be collected at your hotel by a private driver who will transfer you to Madrid International Airport for your departure.

 

Activities & Services Included today

  • Private transfer from your Madrid hotel to Madrid Airport

Meals Included today

  • Full Buffet Breakfast

Please remember that this tour can also be done in reverse starting in Madrid and finishing in Barcelona.  It can also be used as a template for a custom trip should you wish to modify, add or subtract days to suit your schedule.

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About this trip

This Trip Includes

Accommodation (based on 2 people sharing)

  • 11 nights accommodation in quality 4-star hotels in a standard room. Upgrade options available on request.

Meals

  • Full Buffet breakfast daily

Transport

  • All private transfers from airport / stations as indicated above
  • Half-day private driver in Barcelona (Day 2)
  • Full-day private driver for the Girona & Besalu tour 
  • Five tickets for the Local buses in Granada
  • ​High Speed Trains (tourist class – upgrades available on request)
    Barcelona to Cordoba
    Cordoba to Granada
    Toledo to Madrid

Private Guided Tours

  • Private Walking tour in Barcelona with expert English speaking guide (includes transport + private driver)
  • Private Excursion from Barcelona to Girona & Besalu with expert English speaking guide (includes transport + private driver)
  • Private Walking tour of the Alhambra Palace & Gardens with expert English speaking guide
  • Private Walking tour in Seville with expert English speaking guide
  • Private Walking tour in Toledo with expert English speaking guide
  • Private Walking tour in Madrid with expert English speaking guide 

Pre-Booked Entrance Tickets

  • Barcelona – Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera (Casa Mila) & Park Güell
  • Girona - Cathedral and Jewish Museum
  • Besalu - Mikve
  • Cordoba – Mosque/Cathedral , Synagogue and Casa Sefarad
  • Granada – Alhambra Palace, Cathedral & Royal Tombs, Sephardic House
  • Seville – Alcazar & Cathedral
  • Toledo –Synagogue Santa Maria la Blanca, Synagogue of El Transito & Cathedral
  • Madrid – Royal Palace & Prado Museum

Special Highlights

  • Flamenco show in Seville (1 hr duration)

Other

  • Comprehensive personalized trip documentation including local maps, guides and tourist information
  • Totally Spain's specialist trip planning service and support
  • Spanish Government tax


NOT INCLUDED
Flights, Personal Travel Insurance, Porterage (not commonly available in Spain), Tips, Meals, drinks or hotel extras other than those described above. Anything else not specified above.

 

 

 

 

Customer Reviews

Belen, I just wanted to tell you how grateful I am to you for everything you organized.  Every single detail was handled and everything was perfect, exactly as you planned it.  Each hotel gave us two beds, as I reminded them at check-in had...

Kathleen Campbell, Sanibel Island, FL, USA
2019-08-16

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