Spanish wines are some of the best in the world and are remarkably affordable here. Go through the memorable vacation time in Madrid and see some of the highlights of Old Castile if you budget your time carefully. One week provides enough time, although barely, to introduce yourself to such attractions of Madrid as the Museo del Prado and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.
In this wine tour you will learn, from winery to winery, about Spain’s Golden century, history and habits, old and modern winemaking in the region and in Spain in general, while discovering medieval and Renaissance architectures through the countryside. Discover the intriguing and captivating history of Madrid, the sprawling metropolis and imposing Sierra de Guadarrama mountains to the north confine vineyards to the southeastern and southwestern corners of the autonomous community of Madrid.
Madrid, the capital of Spain, is a cosmopolitan city that combines the most modern infrastructures and the status as an economic, financial, administrative and service centre, with a large cultural and artistic heritage, a legacy of centuries of exciting history. Madrid's Region's countryside is coated with vineyards and historical towns that supplied wine for the capital since its very foundation. Madrid is not only a great city with marvelous museums, superb restaurants and an exciting night life, there is also another Madrid, closer than you imagine, full of surprising wineries and culinary jewels which land continues providing the fruits as it has for the last 1000 years.
Seville is the capital city of Andalusia. Located in the South of Spain, Seville, or Sevilla in Spanish, is one of the largest Spanish cities with over 700.000 inhabitants. The city of Seville is famous worldwide for its culture, monuments, traditions and artistic heritage. This is the birthplace of Flamenco and the city where the most amazing Easter processions take place. Sevilla is well connected to Madrid by the Spanish high speed train AVE.
Arrival in Madrid and make the stay arrangement. Take the Metro to Atocha or Banco de España to begin your tour of the Museo del Prado, allowing at least 2 hours for a brief visit. Concentrate on the splendid array of works by Velázquez, and take in some of the works of Francisco de Goya, including his Clothed Maja and Naked Maja.
Visit Plaza de Santa Ana, known for its outdoor terrazas. This was the center of an old neighborhood for literati, attracting such Golden Age authors as Lope de Vega and Cervantes. Hemingway drank here in the 1920s.
After lunch, walk west to Puerta del Sol, the very center of Madrid Times Square, Northwest of the square you can visit Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales, Madrid’s art-filled convent from the mid-16th century and a true treasure trove.
Then head for Plaza Mayor, Madrid’s most beautiful square and liveliest hub in the early evening.
On Day 2, take the Metro to Atocha for a visit to Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, whose main attraction is Picasso’s masterpiece Guernica. Here you can also view one of the greatest collections of modern art in Spain, taking at least 2 hours. In the afternoon, view Madrid’s third great art museum, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, absorbing its many treasures. A visit will easily absorb at least 2 hours of your time.
In the early evening, join in that ritual of tasca hopping, going from one bar or tavern to another and sampling hot and cold tapas or small plates of Spanish appetizers, ranging from fresh anchovies to the tail of a bull. You can discover plenty on your own, virtually on every street corner.
Having survived 2 days in the capital of Spain, bid adios and take a RENFE train to Toledo. These depart frequently from Madrid’s Atocha station. Much of Spain’s history took place behind Toledo’s old walls.
visit the fortified palace, the Alcázar, with its army museum; and the crowning glory of the city, the Catedral de Toledo. The masterpiece of El Greco, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz, rests in Iglesia de Santo Tomé. If time remains, see Casa y Museo de El Greco, or the House and Museum of El Greco, although the artist didn’t actually live here. Toledo is known for its damascene work, so pick up a souvenir before returning to Madrid by train that night.
While still based in Madrid, begin Day 4 by taking an excursion to Segovia, leaving from Madrid’s Chamartín station and arriving 2 hours later. The thrill of visiting the most spectacularly sited city in Spain is to view its Alcázar, which rises starkly above the plain like a fairy-tale castle created by Disney. You can also view the Cabildo Catedral de Segovia and the town’s architectural marvel, Acueducto Romano. After lunch in Segovia, head 11km (7 miles) southeast to view the Palacio Real de La Granja, the summer palace of the Bourbon kings. Return to Segovia and take the train back to Madrid.
Vying with Toledo as the most popular day trip from Madrid, the half monastery/half royal mausoleum of San Lorenzo de El Escorial is about an hour from Madrid’s Atocha station. Felipe II constructed this mammoth complex for “God and myself,” with its splendid library, palaces, and some of the world’s greatest art. You can spend a full day here, breaking only for lunch, as you wander the art galleries and state apartments, including the throne room.
If you have time, make a side trip to El Valle de los Caídos (the Valley of the Fallen), a moving and evocative monument dedicated to the caídos or “fallen” who died in the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s.
Leave Madrid early in the morning, taking the 419km to Córdoba in the south, reached in 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Córdoba was once the capital of the Islamic nation in the West. Take 2 hours to visit its Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba, the greatest Islamic masterpiece remaining in the Western world. Its stunning labyrinth of columns and red-and-white-striped arches alone is worth the visit. With remaining time you can visit Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, a stellar example of military architecture where Ferdinand and Isabella once governed.
After lunch, take one of the frequent trains running between Córdoba and Seville. The fastest train, the AVE, takes only 45 minutes to reach Seville, where you can spend the night.
On the morning of Day 7, get set to experience the glories of Seville. We like to acclimate ourselves by wandering the narrow streets of Barrio de Santa Cruz, the most evocative district, with its medieval streets, pocket-size plazas, and flower-filled wrought-iron balconies or tiled courtyards.
After that, head for the Catedral de Sevilla and Giralda Tower. The cathedral is the largest Gothic building in the world and the third-largest church in Europe. After spending 1 1/2 hours here, climb La Giralda, an adjacent Moorish tower erected by Islamic architects in the 12th century.
After lunch, head for the Alcázar, the other great architectural monument of Seville, which lies north of the cathedral. This is the oldest royal residence in Europe still in use, dating from the 14th century. Allow 1 1/2 hours for a hurried visit. With time remaining, visit Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla, a converted convent housing some of Andalusia’s greatest artwork, including masterpieces by El Greco and Murillo. A standard visit takes 1 1/2 hours.
As the afternoon fades, go for a stroll through Parque María Luisa, which runs south along the Guadalquivir River. In summer you can rent a boat and go for a refreshing sail. After dinner in the Old Town, head for a flamenco show if you still have energy.