Sorolla's Valencia - Spanish Master of Light

Prices from £1,495


29 Oct 2019 - 1 Nov 2019
Duration: 3 nights
Ref: 19SORO
With: Dr Anne Anderson


Prices from £1,495
Single Supplement: £255
Deposit: £200

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Spain’s third city, Valencia is awash with some of the most striking architecture in the country. Elegant Art Nouveau buildings, which reflect the unique Valencian take on the movement, abut soaring Gothic and Renaissance monuments under a dazzling Mediterranean sun. Established by Romans, ruled by Moors, who brought with them the oranges, olives, silk, rice and ceramics the city is famed for, Valencia was conquered for Aragon in 1238. Under the Crown of Aragon, the metropolis further flourished, enjoying a Valencian Golden Age in the 15th century and establishing itself as one of the most influential cities on the Mediterranean. Successive civil and international wars during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries threw the city into turmoil, but a boom in industrial fortunes towards the end of the 19th century saw renewed development, in which the Art Nouveau style dominated.

It was around this time that a young Valencian artist, Joaquín Sorolla, was beginning to make a name for himself. Gaining some early recognition as a painter of historical and social realist works, it was his later Impressionist landscapes and genre paintings, which so beautifully captured the glittering light of the Mediterranean, that brought him greatest acclaim.

This March, the National Gallery London, opens Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light, from 18 March ‒ 7 July 2019 the first UK exhibition to be dedicated to the artist in over a century. A rare opportunity to see works spanning the artist’s career, this new Art Pursuits Abroad tour follows on from the exhibition, allowing you to step into Sorolla’s art and enjoy the sparkling light, brilliant colour and vibrant life of his work at the source.

Credit to Museo Sorolla in Madrid for the image of 'Strolling Along The Seashore'


Dr Anne Anderson is a writer, lecturer and broadcaster with a background in archaeology, who is a fellow of the society of Antiquaries. As an art historian, Anne specialises in art of the late 19th and 20th centuries, particularly the Aesthetic movement, Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Modernism. She lectures widely for many organisations including the Arts Society.


Mid-morning flight with British Airways from London Heathrow to Valencia. Coach transfer to the heart of Valencia. On arrival at our elegant four-star hotel we will enjoy refreshments in the hotel bar before heading out for an introductory walk. The lively Plaza del Ayuntamiento, or Town Hall Square, is just a stone’s throw from our hotel and displays an eclectic mix of Spanish architectural styles. Among the many handsome façades is the magnificent Central Post Office, designed by Miguel Ángel Navarro in 1914. Our walk will also take in the nearby North Station, resplendent in the Valencian Art Nouveau style, and the neoclassical bullring, one of the oldest in Spain. A convivial group dinner in the evening is the perfect conclusion to our first day.


After breakfast we set out for the Museum of Fine Arts where we will pay homage to Sorolla in the museum’s dedicated Sorolla room, a chance to examine the mastery of his technique at close range. Other highlights of the collection include works by some of the great masters of Spanish painting: Velázquez, Ribera, Murillo and Goya included. The museum itself sits on the edge of the Turía Gardens – the Turía River once flowed through the heart of Valencia but following the devasting floods of 1957, the river was diverted around the city’s western outskirts. We stroll alongside the park en route to our next destination, the Centro del Carmen, a 13th-century convent, complete with bell tower and gothic cloister, that has been elegantly converted into a cultural centre and exhibition space. Nearby, the former home and romantic Valencian garden of José Benlliure, painter and contemporary of Sorolla, is now preserved as a museum. Short coach ride to Playa Malvarossa, where Sorolla painted many of his seaside scenes. A special lunch will be laid on for us at La Pepica, the oldest restaurant on the beach, where we will sample the house paella, first made for Sorolla himself when he visited the restaurant. A late afternoon coach will return us to the city centre where we will take in the Mercado de Colón, the lavish public market building constructed in the Valencian Art Nouveau style, before returning to the hotel on foot. The evening is yours for independent exploration or relaxation.


A day exploring the Old Town on foot. Striking out from the Town Hall, we pass Sorolla’s birthplace as we head towards the magnificent La Lonja, the Silk Exchange, one of the most famous civic gothic monuments in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We stroll on through the Plaza Redonda, a charming circular “square”, passing the churches where Sorolla was baptised and married before arriving at the city’s busiest square, the Plaza de la Reina. The north side is dominated by Valencia Cathedral, where we will spend some time exploring. Founded in the 13th century, the cathedral displays a mix of Baroque, Gothic and Romanesque architectural styles and was constructed on the site of a former Moorish mosque. Inside, treasures include an agate cup, claimed to be the true Holy Grail, which was given to the cathedral by King Alfonso V of Aragon in 1437. Afterwards, we have some free time in the Mercado Central area, another fine marketplace built in the Valencian Art Nouveau style. In the afternoon, we take in the church of San Nicolas, a dazzlingly frescoed Baroque jewel, and the Almudín, a restored 15th-century granary building which is today an exhibition space. Our final stop of the day will be a special private visit to the Patriarch Museum, which holds a small but impressive collection of religious art, with works by Caravaggio, El Greco and Ribera. The museum is also home to the manuscript that Thomas More was working on while awaiting his execution in the Tower of London. Return to our hotel this evening for a farewell tapas dinner.


After breakfast, we visit The National Ceramics Museum, housed in a 15th-century palace containing a varied collection of ceramics, porcelains and other decorative arts. The collection ranges from the prehistoric, Roman, Greek and Arab worlds, to traditional Valencian pieces and more contemporary works, including some by Picasso. Our visit is concluded with some free time for a final coffee or last-minute souvenir shopping, before transferring by coach to Valencia airport for a mid afternoon flight with British Airways, scheduled to land at London Heathrow at approximately 4pm.


Pease note that this tour involves a fair amount of walking across uneven ground. You must be fit and surefooted to make the most of this tour. Visits to churches and museums require prolonged periods of standing without the possibility of a rest. If you would like to find out more about the fitness requirements of the tour, please ring or email us.


Twin/double share: £1495 per person
Double room for sole use supplement: £255
'No flights' price: £1345 per person
Deposit: £200 per person


  • Return flights with BA from London Heathrow to Valencia
  • Private coach transfers
  • 3 nights’ bed and breakfast in the four-star One Shot Palacio Reina Victoria Hotel
  • Two dinners and one lunch
  • Guided visits to sites listed in the programme
  • Services of the Lecturer and Tour Manager
  • Detailed programme and study notes
  • All entrance fees, taxes & gratuities for coach drivers & waiters


The stylish, four-star Hotel One Shot Palacio Reina Victoria is situated in the heart of Valencia and was the first hotel in the city. Built in the early twentieth century by local architect Luis Ferreres Soler, the hotel has been enjoyed by the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Federico García Lorca. Rooms are modern, bright and stylish and feature a TV, bathrobes, a small safe, minibar and hairdryer.