Depart on an early morning flight from London Gatwick to Seville - other regional flight connections and/or overnight accommodation before or after the tour available on request. On arrival we will be met by our coach and transferred to the centre of Seville, where there will be an opportunity for lunch (not included).
In the afternoon we will visit the gardens of the Royal Palaces of the Alcázar. The Alcázar is a magnificent palace which mixes Christian and Moorish styles and has several patios and salons all of which are grand and very highly decorated. The ceilings, in particular, are incredibly intricate in design, one with a wooden dome decorated with red, green and gold cells inscribed with Arabic. After the wonder of the palace it is refreshing to walk through the beautiful gardens made up of a mixture of several eras. There is an “English Garden” unlike any garden in this country as the trees and plants are much larger! There is also a huge 500 year old magnolia tree brought by Columbus from the New World. The gardens are rambling and a leisurely walk here shows orange trees, eucalyptus, palms and many others. You may also see the “Flower of Spain”, so-called because of its colours of the Spanish flag. The gardens are like those of the Alhambra but not so large. There are many fountains and places to sit and admire the great variety of trees and palms.
Later we transfer to our hotel in Seville and the evening is at leisure.
After breakfast we continue exploring Seville. We begin by visiting the Maria-Luisa Park and also the Plaza de España, laid out in 1929 for a “Fair of the Americas”. This is among the most impressive public spaces in Spain. Later you will see the Gardens of Murillo, planted in honour of the famous painter from Seville, and Seville’s majestic Cathedral. We will also have time to visit Seville’s Orange Tree Courtyard which belonged to the old mosque.
This afternoon we transfer to Carmona, east of Seville where we will have a walking tour of the old city and see some of the patio gardens and the Alcazar of Pedro the Cruel.
We return to our hotel in Seville, where the evening is at leisure.
After breakfast we check out of our hotel and depart for a visit to the private garden of Moratalla in Hornachuelos. These gardens were created around 1910-1915 on an Andalusian estate belonging to the Marquis of Viana to turn it into a recreational residence and a base for hunting. The gardens were designed by J.C.N Forestier and integrate the French style with the Neo-Sevillian style which he created. A great avenue between the façade of the House/Palace and the ornamental iron gate at the entrance develops into seven terraces of slightly sunken lawns. On the terraces there are various whimsical motifs such as fountains, benches and tables, made of brick and tile. The rest of the garden area is in a more intimate, slightly romantic style, with shaded and wooded areas.
We continue to Córdoba where we check into our hotel. Later we will have the first of our visits by foot to the patio gardens of Córdoba. Patios, or enclosed courtyards, developed from the 10th century onward, although it was in the 19th century that the concept of the patio as a shared space began to flourish. As people came in from the countryside to work in towns, families would occupy a few rooms of the three or four storey buildings built around courtyards, which became communal living spaces where people ate, washed and entertained. They also became communal gardens with a few plants, nearly always in pots, and perhaps a tree for shade and a climber to grow up the inside of the walls. Although such communal buildings are rare now, many people still choose to share their patios, treating their courtyard as their garden and spending an important part of their lives in that space. Geraniums (or pelargoniums, if you prefer) dominate, planted in terracotta pots which are often brightly painted, but there are also carnations, petunias, ferns, bananas, jasmine, bougainvillea and jacaranda. No two patios are exactly the same and as we wander from one to another, we can expect an ever-changing kaleidoscope of colour and fragrance.
Evening at leisure.
After breakfast this morning we will visit further patio gardens by foot in Córdoba, as well as the Viana Palace, which has wonderful gardens itself and no fewer than fourteen patios. The fourteenth-century palace is now a museum, with an extraordinary collection of furniture, tapestries, porcelains, ceramics and paintings and a cynegetic library of 7000 volumes.
In the afternoon we will visit further patio gardens in the area. We will also visit the stunning gardens of The Royal Palaces of the Alcázar, which are Moorish in style, laid out in rows around long pools with numerous fountains. The sound of the water and the smells of the garden make it an experience for all the senses. At the end of one of these long pools are statues of Columbus together with Ferdinand and Isabel symbolising their meeting in Córdoba. We shall also visit the Great Mosque with its Orange Grove, which was first laid out in the late 8th Century and must be one of the true wonders of the world. Outside is a huge patio covered in orange trees - Patio de los Naranjos - which was originally covered with fountains used for bathing before entering the mosque. On entering you are struck by the vast number of pillars supporting the arches with their distinctive red and white tiles which are so much a symbol of the whole design. The mosque is now a mixture of Moorish and Christian with chapels incorporated into the building and it is stunning in both its appearance and atmosphere.
Evening at leisure.
This morning after breakfast we will transfer to Seville airport in time for our return flight to London Gatwick.
Please note that a certain level of mobility is required for this holiday as on days 3 and 4 due to coach restrictions in the centre of Córdoba our visits will be on foot.