This colourful tour embodies the very essence of Andalusia, from sherry bodegas to the Cartujano horse, and, of course, delicious regional cuisine and wines. In fact, all things Andalusian.
Our base is the delightful Hacienda de San Rafael, halfway between Seville and Jerez, formerly part of a thriving olive estate, now restored and converted into a privately-owned hideaway. From here we venture out each day to enjoy private visits to one of Jerez’s sherry houses and the ancient La Yagueda de la Cartuja-Hierro del Bocado stud.
We also take in a dressage performance at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art. We visit the historic city of Seville, with its famous gothic cathedral and Moorish architecture, and the ancient port city of Cadiz with its crenelated sea walls and forts. We also visit the natural fortress city Ronda to learn of its occupation by successive peoples and to visit its impressive gorge and bull ring.
London / Seville
Depart London Gatwick on a morning British Airways flight to Seville.
Lunch under own arrangements. On arrival transfer to the Hacienda de San Rafael, where six nights are spent. Formerly part of a thriving olive estate, the 18th century hacienda has been restored and converted into a privately-owned hideaway, striking a balance between rustic charm and modern sophistication. It is located halfway between the historic cities of Seville and Jerez. To the east lie the white villages alongside the Sierras of Grazalema and to the west Coto Doñana National Park. The bougainvillea-filled courtyard acts as centre stage to eleven duplex designed bedrooms.
All the rooms are individually decorated by Kuky Mora-Figueroa, using fabrics, antiques and artefacts of her own personal choice. The hacienda has five acres of gardens and three swimming pools and Isabel the cook serves culinary delights from the local region including fresh Atlantic fish and fine Iberian cuts of meat complimented by the seasonal vegetables available. Welcome drink in the living room or gardens followed by dinner in the dining room.
Jerez de la Frontera
Full day excursion to Jerez de la Frontera or simply Jerez. Founded during the Muslim occupation of Spain, the city was conquered by the Christians in 1268, the Muslim population was expelled and the city was given to the knights who took part in the conquest. Take a guided walking tour of the city accompanied by a specialist local guide. Visit one of the private palatial residences given to one of the knights which has been owned by the same family since the Christian conquest. See an equestrian show at the Real Escuela Ecuestre de Jerez which features Spanish baroque horsemanship and the famous Andalusian ‘dancing’ stallions.
Lunch at a selected vineyard where you will be served a pairing lunch composed of different dishes cooked by a local chef that will be paired with different sherries. This will be followed by a visit to the winery to learn about and taste the different types of sherry. Return to the Hacienda de San Rafael. Pre-dinner drinks and tapas in the west garden or living room followed by dinner in the dining room.
Morning excursion to Seville with a specialist guide. Stroll through the city centre and visit the Alcazar, a Moorish palace still in use by the present king, and see its magnificent gardens. Continue to the Santa Cruz area, the former Medieval Jewish district, a charming area with winding alleys and unexpected quaint squares. Visit the famous Cathedral and its amazing belfry, the former minaret of a mosque, with the option to climb this 800 year old tower.
Lunch at La Moneda restaurant. Return to the hacienda for the remainder of the afternoon at leisure. Pre-dinner drinks and tapas in the west garden or living room followed by dinner in the dining room.
Morning excursion to Cadiz with a specialist guide. The city was founded by the Phoenicians in the 11th century BC and incredibly well preserved evidence of this Phoenician past can still be seen. However it was during the 18th century that the city reached its zenith when it held the monopoly of the trade with the Americas, formerly established in Seville. The cosmopolitan bourgeoisie that settled in Cadiz commissioned the best architects and artists to build and decorate their houses and churches and the tour of the old town will include selected hidden gems from this period.
Also see a comprehensive sample of the contemporary art that emerged first in Madrid and then in the rest of Spain in the so-called transition period of the 20th century. The pioneers of this cultural movement were from Cadiz and the creative movement started in the house these pioneers rented in Madrid, having moved there to find work. An important and representative part of their work and of this period is in the city.
Enjoy an aperitif in a selected local bar followed by lunch at El Faro restaurant. Return to the hacienda for the remainder of the afternoon at leisure. Pre-dinner drinks and tapas in the west garden or living room followed by dinner in the dining room.
Morning excursion to Ronda with a specialist guide. The tour will explore how this picturesque town has been occupied from 2000 BC onwards by different cultures such as Celts, Iberians, Romans, Visigoths and Arabs, its impressive cliff and gorge area making the town a natural fort. The Arab period and the second half of 18th century were the most important times for the history of Ronda. Stroll from the Bullring area across the New Bridge to the old part of Ronda known as ‘La Ciudad’ to see palaces, churches and charming squares from this era.
Lunch at Almocabar restaurant. Return to the hacienda for the remainder of the afternoon at leisure. Pre-dinner drinks and tapas in the west garden or living room followed by dinner in the dining room.
La Yeguada de la Cartuja
Depart for the Dehesa da la Fuente del Suero, and the Yeguada de la Cartuja-Hierro del Bocado stud farm about 5km from Jerez where the unique Cartujano (Carthusian) thoroughbred Spanish horse originates. The stud’s success dates back to the founding of the nearby 15th century Carthusian Monastery, where the monks started to breed horses with splendid studs, achieving ideal crossings and treating the horses with utmost care. The result was the world famous Cartujano, the essence of today’s Andalucian horse. Today the stud houses the world’s most important stock of Cartujanos.
The excellent pasture provided by the marshlands combined with an unbeatable climate makes it a perfect location for the breeding of these horses. After a visit to the stud with a specialist guide, watch the spectacular performance of the Cartujano horses being put through their paces in the covered dressage ring. The set pieces include free-running colts of different ages, hitches, classical dressage and ‘cobras’ of mares (a group of mares tied together with one handler).
Return to the hacienda for lunch in the east garden.
Afternoon at leisure. Pre-dinner drinks and tapas in the west garden or living room followed by dinner in the dining room.
Seville / London
Morning at leisure with brunch at the hacienda.
Transfer to Seville Airport for a British Airways evening flight to London Gatwick.