Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 10 miles, up to about 2 hours with stops. Walking at field trip locations; periods of standing.
We’ll start out by joining our expert local lecturer at the hotel for a presentation on the art, history, culture and people of Madrid through the ages. While the local area has been inhabited since the Stone Age, the city itself developed out of a citadel built at the end of the 9th century when Al-Andalus — the Iberian peninsula — was ruled by Moors, the name Europeans applied to Muslims from North Africa. It changed hands several times during the Reconquista (reconquest) and was eventually controlled by the kingdom of Castile. The royal court settled in Madrid but it did not become the national capital of Spain until 1606, chosen at least in part because it had no ties to opposing factions as well as for its central location. During subsequent eras, the city’s neighborhoods were referred to as “Los Madriles” — the Madrids — in recognition of distinctive differences from one barrio (quarter) to another. The people, Madrileños, were called “gatos” (cats), perhaps a medieval reference to the alleged ability of troops from Madrid to scale castle walls, though it also suggests the local preference for late evening hours. After many years of war, unrest, and dictatorship, the death of Franco sparked a frenzy of energy and creativity. With 3.3 million residents, Madrid is the third most populated city in the European Union behind London and Berlin. Madrid is also known for its copious number of art museums, one of which we'll explore this afternoon.
At the hotel, with wine and water included; other beverages available for purchase.
Next, we’ll set out by motorcoach with our local expert to see some of Madrid’s most emblematic sites, ending at the majestic Museo Nacional del Prado — the Prado Museum — where we will have an expert-led exploration. In addition to the world’s most comprehensive collection of Spanish painting featuring Grand Masters such as Velázquez, Goya, Murillo, and many more, there are masterpieces of the French, German, and Italian schools, and early Flemish works. Then housing the royal collection, the museum opened to the public in 1819. It grew over many years into one of the world’s foremost collections of great art. Afterwards, we'll return to the hotel.
We'll walk to a local restaurant, we’ll enjoy a plated 3-course meal, with wine and water included; other beverages available for purchase.