Sherry and Flamenco Country - Gastronomy, culture and art in south-western Andalucia

Prices from £2,590


11 Mar 2019 - 17 Mar 2019
Duration: 6 nights
Ref: 19CADI
With: Sue Rollin


Prices from £2,590
Single Supplement: £340
Deposit: £300

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This new Art Pursuits Abroad Study Tour takes us off the beaten tourist track as we explore the rich history and cultural traditions of south-western Andalucia. Our base is Cadiz, on a fortified peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic, one of the oldest cities in Europe, founded by the Phoenicians over 3000 years ago. North of Cadiz is Jerez, sherry town par excellence, where English wine merchants once got rich, although the locals of nearby Sanlucar de Barrameda claim that it is in fact their manzanilla that is the most delicate of all finos, thanks to the salt breeze that rolls in from the sea.

For the Romans, southern Spain was the land of wine, metals, olive oil and fish paste; Baelo Claudia was one of many small Roman seaside towns which thrived on fish sauce manufacture while Italica, birthplace of Roman emperors Trajan and Hadrian, was much larger and more sophisticated. Along the route of the pueblos blancos beyond the Sierra de Grazalema National Park, the beautiful old town of Ronda is famous for bullfighting, another strong Andalusian tradition. Moorish Andalusia will also be explored, from the 12C Alcázar in Jerez to the Giralda in Seville, while the work of some of the great artists who worked in Andalucia, including Murillo, Zurbarán and the sculptor Martínez Montañes, known as El Dios de la Madera (‘the god of wood’) will also enrich our travels.


Sue Rollin specialises in the ancient and Islamic Middle East and Mediterranean. An archaeologist and linguist by training, she lectures for the Arts Society and the Art Fund and has led study trips in Spain, Sicily, Morocco, the Middle East, Central Asia and India. Sue speaks Spanish, Italian, French and German and works regularly as an interpreter for international organisations. She is co-author of two travel guides: the ‘Blue Guide to Jordan’ and ‘Istanbul: A Traveller’s Guide’.

DAY 1:

Early afternoon flight at c. 12.30pm with BA from London Heathrow to Gibraltar. Transfer by private coach to our hotel in Cadiz.

DAY 2:

A morning devoted to exploring old Cadiz; in the city museum we see finds from the Cadiz’s Phoenician and Roman past, including a Roman shipwreck, as well as an excellent collection of fine art with works by the great Spanish baroque painters Zurbarán and Murillo. Cadiz’s greatest composer, Manuel de Falla, is buried in the grand High Baroque cathedral; the bells of the city hall chime notes from his composition El Amor Brujo. Near the cathedral are the Roman theatre and the former archbishop’s palace, built over a Phoenician burial site and a Roman temple which still preserves fragmentary wall paintings. A short walk takes us to the lovely Plaza de las Flores and the bustling 19th- centruy Mercado Central, which trades an astounding array of foods. The Oratorio de San Felipe Neri houses a fine Immaculate Conception by Murillo; plaques on the outside of the church celebrate the establishment here of the Cortes (Parliament) which drew up the 1812 Constitution. In the afternoon we leave the city and head for the Roman ruins of Baelo Claudia, a small Roman fishing town which prospered from the production of garum, a fish sauce which the Romans consumed in vast quantities. Return to Cadiz.

DAY 3:

All day excursion in the beautiful countryside east of Cadiz, to the Sierra de Grazalema, home to many charming pueblos blancos (white villages). We stroll through the pretty village of Grazalema and taste the local payoyo cheese, an organic artisan cheese made from sheep and goat’s milk, before continuing to Ronda, dramatically located on a ridge overlooking the El Tajo gorge. After a visit to the 18th-century Plaza de Toros, the oldest and most famous bullring in Spain, and the Puente Nuevo which bridges the deep gorge, there is free time to explore the streets of the old town and see some of the other interesting monuments, which include the church of Santa María la Mayor, formerly the town’s congregational mosque, and the well-preserved 13C Arab baths. We return to Cadiz for dinner.

DAY 4:

After breakfast we drive the short distance to Jerez, the home of sherry, and on arrival explore the streets and sights of the old town including the ruins of the 12C Moorish Alcázar and the nearby Cathedral of San Salvador. A special treat will be a visit to the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art to see a unique equestrian ballet. No visit to Jerez is complete without a stop at one of its renowned bodegas and we will enjoy wine tasting and a tour of the cellars at the Bodegas Tradición. We will also see the owner’s private art gallery, which displays a superb collection of Spanish paintings from early Renaissance to modern, including works by Goya, Velázquez and Zurbarán. Late afternoon return to Cadiz.

DAY 5:

Morning excursion to the ruins of Italica, a once grand Roman city which was the birthplace of emperors Trajan and Hadrian and boasts a huge amphitheatre and wide streets flanked by opulent villas with colourful mosaics. Our afternoon today will be spent in Seville, where many of the finds from Italica, which include very fine statuary, are in the Seville archaeological museum, one of several buildings in the María Luisa Park constructed for the Spanish-Americas fair of 1929. The centrepiece of the fair was the opulent Plaza de España, designed to exhibit Spanish industry and crafts, which displays azulejo scenes and maps of all the Spanish provinces. Our time in the city will also take in a stroll through the old Jewish quarter and a visit to the magnificent cathedral, a monument to the Reconquista and one of the largest Gothic churches in the world. Before our return to Cadiz, there will be time to climb the 12C Giralda, minaret of the former mosque, which became the bell tower of the cathedral, for remarkable views of the city.

DAY 6:

We spend the morning in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, an attractive town at the mouth of the River Guadalquivir which is famous for its manzanilla wines and deliciously fresh seafood. We see the Church of San Jorge, originally built by English sherry merchants in the 16th century and Sanlucar’s oldest church, the 13th- century Nuestra Señora de la O. Afterwards, we will enjoy a private tour of the gardens and palace of the Dukes of Medina Sidonia and will of course visit one of the town’s bodegas for manzanilla tasting. In the afternoon, we return to Cadiz for some free time before we round off the day in style, with a farewell dinner and a flamenco performance.

DAY 7:

After breakfast we bid farewell to Cadiz and drive to Medina Sidonia, where we will explore the charming little old town and visit the Church of Santa María la Coronada, built over an earlier mosque and with some fine polychrome wooden sculptures by Martínez Montañes and others of the Seville school. Not to be missed is a private visit to the town’s remarkable Roman sewers and the Roman road which runs beneath the main street. In the afternoon, we continue to Gibraltar for our BA flight to London Heathrow, landing at c. 7.30pm.


Specific fitness requirements for this Study Tour:

This tour involves a lot of walking, up and downhill, and sometimes on uneven ground or pavements; museum and site visits require prolonged periods of standing without the possibility of a rest. Coach journeys vary in length.

Please note that all our Study Tours involve a significant amount of standing and walking, often across uneven ground, over cobbled streets, or up and down steps and inclines. While we do not have an upper age limit for participants, we require you to have a level of fitness which does not spoil other participents' enjoyment of the holiday and you should be able to walk at a reasonable pace and / or stand for at least thirty minutes without aid or requiring a rest.

If you are in any doubt as to whether a particular tour is suitable for you, please ring us to check before placing your booking.


Twin/double share: £2590 per person
Double room for sole use supplement: £340
Price of the tour without flights: £2490 per person
Deposit: £300 per person


  • Scheduled return flights (economy class) with BA between London Heathrow and Gibraltar
  • Six nights B&B in the centrally located four-star Parador de Cadiz
  • Three dinners and one lunch
  • Transfers and excursions by private coach
  • Services of the lecturer and a tour manager
  • Detailed programme and study notes
  • All entrance fees, taxes, and gratuities for coach drivers and waiters


  • Transport between home and London Heathrow
  • Travel insurance. We strongly advise you to be covered by adequate travel insurance

Parador de Cadiz****

The Parador de Cadiz is a fascinating example of modern day architecture with views of Cadiz bay can be seen from all over the building. Rooms are smart and contemporary with an airy feel thanks to the large windows with panoramic views. The hotel is located a few steps from the beach and esplanade and a 10 minute stroll from the historic centre.


  • Minibar
  • Safe
  • Telephone
  • Air conditioning
  • Hairdryer
  • En suite
  • Television
  • Free WiFi


The hotel offers an a la carte dining experience in its main restaurant featuring fine regional cuisine, alternatively you can enjoy tapas in the bar. In the spa and wellness area you will find an indoor pool.