Belem tower, Lisbon, Porugal
Belem tower, Lisbon, Porugal

Portugal & Spain: Iberian Empires of Antiquity

17 days From $8,995

May 22 2019

The Iberian peninsula’s ancient heartlands of Portugal and Spain span a vast canvas of Western European history and cultures – on which the impact of successive eras of invasion and occupation through many centuries has imposed an enduring signature. While this eventful patrimony is readily apparent in their flamboyant architectural and artistic traditions, both countries can also boast an equally colorful spectrum of historic sites and monuments of special interest to the archaeologically-minded traveler.

First to arrive here were the Iberians – perhaps from Africa. While they and the Celts, Phoenicians, Greeks and Carthaginians who followed each left their own individual marks, it was from conquest and centuries-long domination by the Romans and later the Moors that the impressive archaeology of Spain and Portugal derived its richest and most influential inheritance.

Our far-ranging journey from picturesque Lisbon to lively Madrid travels first to picturesque medieval Évora before entering Spain’s dazzling Andalusia. Here we take time out in the historic cities of Seville, Cadiz, Cordoba and Granada (home of the legendary Alhambra Palace) and finally Toledo in Castilla-La Mancha. Visits also featured are to major Roman sites (including Mérida, Itálica and Gadir), the ruins of a vast Moorish palace-city, megalithic complexes, several outstanding archaeological museums – and much more.

What's included?

  •  Expert Scholar & Tour Manager
  •  Accommodation
  •  Meals - as per the itinerary
  •  Local Transport
  •  Entries & Tips

Led by...

Prof. Ori Soltes

Professor Ori Soltes is Professorial Lecturer at Georgetown University and has also taught in the Classics Department at Johns Hopkins and Cleveland State Universities.

Book Now $8,995
Includes deposit: $500 Single supplement: $1,750

Tour highlights:

  • Enjoy a walking tour of Évora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Portugal’s most delightful medieval towns, with many Roman sites
  • Explore magnificent Roman ruins in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mérida
  • Discover Granada’s magical Alhambra Palace, an eternal love letter to Moorish culture
  • Savor the exclusive world of Bodegas Lustau in Jerez de la Frontera with an afternoon sherry-tasting
  • Wander through the monumental tombs of Carmona Necropolis, an intriguing complex of Iron Age and Roman tombs

Tour details

Dates May 22 2019 - June 07 2019
Duration 17 days
Cost $8,995
Single supplement: $1,750
Deposit: $500 , balance due by 27 February 2019
Activity Level Moderate
Tour code A19SPO

Book Now or call 866-740-5130 if you have any questions

May 22 2019: Itinerary

We arrive in Lisbon, Portugal’s historic and happening capital, and transfer directly to our hotel. We take the rest of the day to relax after our flight, before enjoying our first dinner as a group.

Meals include: Dinner

Hotel: BessaHotel Liberdade, Lisbon

We begin our journey with a walking tour of Lisbon. Our starting point is the Tower of Belém, a lasting legacy of the Portuguese age of discovery, used not only to fortify the harbor, but as a custom house for both visiting and returning vessels. We then make our way along the river to the city’s Archaeological Museum, and finally to the 15th-century Jerónimos Monastery. After lunch, we visit the Millenium bcp Foundation and Lisbon’s Roman Theater Museum, where we view the traces and artifacts that remain of this 1st-century BC site.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: BessaHotel Liberdade, Lisbon

This morning we leave Lisbon and travel to Tróia, a former Roman ‘factory’ in which fish was salted and made into garum, a popular fermented sauce. This is not just any Roman ruin, but the largest known facility of its type in the Roman world. We continue to the medieval town of Évora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While here we embark on a walking tour of the town’s many Roman sites, including the colonnaded remains of the Templo Romano de Diana and the unusual 16th-century Chapel of Bones.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: M'AR De AR Muralhas, Évora

We head out to the Almendres Cromlechs, a megalithic complex and the largest existing group of structured menhirs in the Iberian Peninsula. We then continue our exploration of Évora with a visit to the town’s museum, which contains some 20,000 pieces. Afterwards, we head to Elvas for a short stop at the 16th-century Amoreira Aqueduct, a marvellous construction spanning the length of the municipality. Our day ends at Mérida, a city first founded by veterans of Emperor Augustus’ army in around 25 BC.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Hotel Ilunion Mérida Palace

We have a full day to admire the plentiful Roman sites of Mérida. Morning visits include the amphitheater, theater and the Archaeological Museum, home to a marvelous display of paintings, tombstones and sculptures. After lunch, we enjoy a walking tour of the city, including attractions such as the Trajan Arch and the Puente Romano, the longest of all the surviving Roman bridges, still standing and frequently used to this day.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Hotel Ilunion Mérida Palace

We start by heading out of the city to the Dolmen of Lacara, a megalithic complex set in beautiful natural surroundings. Our next stop is the burial site of Huerta Montero Tholos, a burial site remarkable for its exact alignment with the sun at the time of the winter solstice. This afternoon, we journey to the splendid city of Seville, where we enjoy free time to stroll the Andalusian streets.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: NH Sevilla Plaza de Armas

An early start takes us to Itálica, just a short drive from Seville. The remains here include elaborate mosaic floors and an amphitheater with space for up to 25,000 spectators. We return to Seville this afternoon for an excursion to the Archaeological Museum, home to the El Carambolo treasure. Later we take a leisurely walk through the park to view the Plaza de España, a magnificent landmark notable for its ceramic depiction of Spain’s various provinces.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: NH Sevilla Plaza de Armas

Our first visit today is to the monumental Alcázar of Seville – a former royal palace of Moorish kings, with a rich blend of architecture that demonstrates a striking amalgamation of influences. Next, we enter Seville Cathedral. As well as being the largest Gothic building in Europe, and the third largest church in the world, the Cathedral is also famous as the final resting place of Christopher Columbus. The afternoon is free for us to spend as we please.

Meals include: Breakfast

Hotel: NH Sevilla Plaza de Armas

We make our way to Cádiz for a visit to the Archaeological Museum, where we find evidence of the city’s past as the ancient Phoenician and Punic city of Gadir – one of the most important settlements in the Western Mediterranean. Next, we head to the Gadir archaeological site, where we learn even more about the Phoenician way of life by seeing streets, homes and tools dating back to the 9th-century BC. This afternoon we head to Cádiz’s Teatro Romano, a 1st-century attraction that features in the writings of Cicero.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: NH Sevilla Plaza de Armas

Today we drive east to Carmona Necropolis, an intriguing complex of Iron Age and Roman tombs that contain such amazing monuments as the Tomb of the Elephant, and the Tomb of Servilia. Following this, our journey leads on to Córdoba, where we spend time admiring the extraordinary Cathedral.

All meals included

Hotel: Parador de Córdoba

Our day starts with an excursion to Medina Azahara, the ruins of a vast Moorish palace-city which once served as the de facto capital of Muslim Spain. Returning to Córdoba, we have the afternoon free to spend as we wish. Feel the rhythms inside the Flamenco Museum, or simply watch the world go by at the Plaza de la Corredera.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Parador de Córdoba

We journey to gorgeous Granada today, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, and visit the Cartuja Granada Monastery, a charterhouse, which contains a spectacularly-decorated tabernacle. This afternoon, we move on to view the resplendent Granada Cathedral, before taking a gentle walk around the Albaicin.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Vincci Albayzin, Granada

We simply must devote the day to the peerless Alhambra Palace, a hilltop Moorish and Renaissance fantasy set against the backdrop of the Sierra Morena. This legendary UNESCO World Heritage site is certainly set to take our breaths away. A huge complex of carved ceilings, flawless courtyards and glorious gardens, it rightly draws in visitors from all corners of the globe. Afterwards, we relax during a drive to Toledo, also known as the “City of the Three Cultures” for the cultural influences of Christians, Muslims and Jews reflected in its history.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Sercotel Pintor El Greco, Toledo

After breakfast we explore Toledo on foot – a real feast for the senses. We explore the ancient mosque of Cristo de la Luz, the synagogue of Santa Maria la Blanca, arguably the oldest synagogue building in Europe still standing, as well as the ornate synagogue of El Transito. After lunch we admire Toledo’s impressive Gothic cathedral, a 13th-century sanctuary streaming with natural light. We also enter the Church of Santo Tomé, home to El Greco’s stupendous 1580s masterpiece, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Sercotel Pintor El Greco, Toledo

This morning we have a leisurely start before heading to Madrid. Upon arrival in the buzzing capital, we have lunch and then visit the Museo del Prado, the country’s principle museum of art.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Catalonia Las Cortes, Madrid

Our final full day starts with an enlightening tour of the National Archaeology Museum. Within its collections are gathered artifacts from all over the country, including the renowned Dama de Elche, the most famous piece of Iberian art in existence. The afternoon is free for us to explore Madrid at our leisure, leaving plenty of time to go wherever our curiosity takes us. We mark our last night with a delectable farewell dinner and drinks as a group.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Catalonia Las Cortes, Madrid

We transfer to the airport for our individual flights home or onward travel.

Meals include: Breakfast

May 22 2019: Additional Info

May 22 2019: Accommodation

Centrally located in Lisbon’s prestigious Avenida da Liberdade, a few minutes’ from Restauradores Square, BessaHotel offers a fitness center, a Turkish bath, a sauna and an indoor pool. Free WiFi is available.

The air-conditioned luxurious rooms of BessaHotel are decorated in a vintage style. All rooms have a Bluetooth integrated sound system, a work desk and a satellite/cable flat-screen TV. Some rooms have balconies with views of the city.

Featuring a 24-hour reception and an à la carte restaurant, BessaHotel provides a business center and therapeutic massages upon request. Other facilities offered at the property include luggage storage and laundry facilities.

The 4-star hotel in Évora’s historic center is just a 5-minute walk from Giraldo Square. It offers a spacious outdoor terrace with sun loungers and a pool in the gardenRooms at M’AR De AR Muralhas are bright and elegant and include a spacious seating area with an LCD TV. Each room also has a CD player, DVD player and free bathroom amenities. Some rooms have a balcony. Restaurant Sabores do Alentejo serves traditional Portuguese cuisine as well as international meals. Room service provides in-room breakfast upon request. Guests can enjoy a refreshing drink on the terrace, which overlooks the exotic garden. For colder days, there is also a cozy lounge with a fireplace where guests enjoy music while having a warm drink.

Located in Plaza de España Square, this restored 15th-century palace offers a rooftop terrace with a small seasonal pool and city views. Hotel Mérida Palace is 200 yards from the Roman Temple of Diana.

Rooms at the Mérida Palace have elegant décor and feature air conditioning and free wired internet. Each room offers satellite TV, a minibar and a safe. Bathrooms include a hairdryer and toiletries.

Guests can use the hotel’s gym and sauna, or relax in the peaceful interior courtyards. There is also an on-site tapas bar and a restaurant serving traditional Extremaduran cuisine.

The Roman Amphitheater and Roman Art Museum are just a 10-minute walk from the Hotel Mérida Palace. Staff at the hotel can provide information about the city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

This hotel overlooks Seville’s Plaza de Armas Square. Just 200 yards from Seville Bus Station, it is a 15-minute walk from the cathedral and Giralda. Its rooftop pool offers superb city views.

Rooms at Hotel NH Sevilla Plaza de Armas have free WiFi, elegant modern design and smart wooden floors. All rooms offer air conditioning, a minibar and satellite TV. The stylish bathrooms include a hairdryer and a toiletries set.

The spacious restaurant offers a traditional Spanish cuisine and a varied Antiox breakfast buffet, which includes a range of healthy option. The hotel also has a stylish bar.

Situated on the former site of Al-Rusafa, Abderramán I's summer palace, the Parador de Córdoba is set on a hill surrounded by lush gardens with a seasonal pool. This hotel offers exceptional views of the Sierra and this legendary city.

The feeling of well-being is enhanced by the swimming pool and gardens that surround the Parador Córdoba. You can visit the garden named Los Naranjos where the first palms that were brought to Europe were planted.

The spacious, elegant rooms include free Wi-Fi and some feature a terrace with city views.

The Parador Córdoba has spacious lounges and a large terrace where you can enjoy unimaginable panoramic views of the city. Relax and chat with friends, enjoy a siesta or sip a refreshing drink in the cool interiors. The lounges are grandly decorated with smart, luxurious fabrics and antique furniture which create the feel of a fine, country home.

Set around a traditional Andalusian-style courtyard Vincci Albayzin features air-conditioned rooms with free Wi-Fi and 24-hour reception. It boasts a fitness centre including a sauna and Granada Cathedral is 750 yards away.

Featuring a classic décor, each room has a satellite flat-screen TV, a minibar and a safe. The marble bathroom with bath or shower includes free toiletries and hairdryer.

The hotel boasts a la carte restaurant serving a combination of traditional and international cuisine. Guest will found a wide range of traditional tapas bars within a 10-minute walk and the El Corte Inglés Shopping Center is just 40 yards away.

Set in a renovated 17th-century bakery, Pintor El Greco is located 50 yards from the El Greco Museum in Toledo’s historic Jewish quarter. It offers a cocktail bar, and rustic rooms with free WiFi. The chic rooms at Sercotel Pintor El Greco include authentic wooden beams and exposed brick work. They come with a modern bathroom with a hairdryer and some feature a hydromassage bath. A buffet breakfast is served and there are vending machines for snacks. 

Set in a beautiful 18th-century building, Catalonia Las Cortes offers air-conditioned rooms and free WiFi. It is located in Madrid City Center, 10 minutes' walk from El Prado Museum.

All rooms in Catalonia Las Cortes include classic décor and a flat-screen satellite TV. The impressive superior rooms and suites feature antique furnishings and authentic frescoes on their ceilings. Guest will also find a Nespresso® coffee machine and a kettle in the rooms.

The restaurant is open for dinner daily and serves international dishes. There is also a cafeteria.

There is also a snack area with free sandwiches, salads, pastries, teas and drinks, open 13:00 - 00:00 from Monday to Friday, and 14:00 - 00:00 on Saturday and Sunday. Breakfast is served until 12:00 at weekends.

May 22 2019: Enquiries

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