(15 Days - Departs Daily on a Private Basis)
Porto & Douro Valley, Lisbon with Sintra & Evora, Seville & Cordoba, Madrid & Toledo, Barcelona & Girona
This private tour was designed for luxury travelers who want to travel along The Sephardic Way to explore the region’s fascinating Jewish heritage. Portugal and Spain were once home to the world’s largest and most prosperous Jewish communities under Muslim and Christian rule. This wonderful, and quite comprehensive, introduction to Portugal and Spain also includes cultural touring through UNESCO World Heritage sites and some of the region’s greatest cities—all with expert guides and luxury accommodations.
Begin in Porto, the capital of Port wine and a city with a fascinating mix of architectural styles, including Roman, medieval, Baroque and contemporary. Stay in a luxurious hotel on a hillside overlooking wine cellars and the Douro River. During private touring, explore the historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. See highlights such as the Palacio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange), the Se do Porto (Porto Cathedral) and the Livraria Lello, a historic bookstore with ornate woodwork. Learn about the Jewish heritage of Porto, including the former Jewish districts and remnants of ancient synagogues. Also see the Kadoorie Mekor Haim Synagogue—the largest synagogue on the Iberian Peninsula—and the Jewish Museum of Porto. Browse specialty shops selling porcelain and Portuguese design products and local crafts, and perhaps opt to visit additional places such as the Serralves Museum, the Casa da Musica, attractions with beautiful Portuguese tiles or the riverside neighborhood of Ribeira. Artisans of Leisure will also arrange a private tour and Port tasting at one of the city’s most renowned cellars.
One day, take a private excursion to the Douro Valley, a beautiful region along the Douro River. There, visit the best local wineries, explore romantic ancient towns along the Douro River, take an exclusive private river cruise in a traditional rabelo boat and enjoy spectacular views of the hills covered with terraced vineyards.
Next, enjoy Jewish touring in Coimbra, a university town with a historic Jewish Quarter and interesting library, and historic Tomar, which has a well-preserved 15th-century synagogue.
Continue to Lisbon, Portugal's vibrant capital on the Tagus River, to explore its rich culture, beautiful cityscapes, and excellent food and wine. Experience the city as an insider during private touring with a knowledgeable local guide with insight into Lisbon’s Jewish heritage. Tour the most interesting neighborhoods, such as historic Alfama and commercial Baixa and riverside Belem, and learn about the Jewish communities that were once active in these districts. See St. George’s Castle, Mosteiro dos Jeronimos monastery, Belem Tower and other impressive monuments of Moorish and Manueline architecture. Browse select shops offering Portuguese specialties such as azulejo tiles, embroidered linens, cork products, needlepoint rugs, Indo-Portuguese furniture, gold jewelry and antiques. Sample local food specialties such as pasteis de nata custard tarts. Also tour museums according to your interests, including options such as the National Tile Museum, the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, the National Coach Museum and the Museum of Folk Art. Other touring options include the Jardim Botanico da Ajuda botanical gardens, miradouros (viewing points) in the hills around the city and a private appointment to visit the Ricardo do Spirito Santo Silva Foundation, which is dedicated to the preservation and reproduction of traditional Portuguese design and decorative art. One evening, enjoy a memorable fado music performance at a local club. Upon request, Artisans of Leisure can arrange dinner reservations at Lisbon's best restaurants. Artisans of Leisure can also make appointments with noted members of Lisbon’s Jewish community.
One day, enjoy a private excursion to Sintra, an aristocratic town of fairy-tale palaces and gardens among forested hills. During private touring in this UNESCO World Heritage Site, visit the romantic National Palace of Pena, the spectacular National Palace of Sintra and the narrow streets in the historic center of the town, including the former Jewish quarter. Another option is visiting Quinta da Regaleira, a villa and park. If desired, Artisans of Leisure can make lunch reservations at a wonderful restaurant in the seaside town of Cascais.
Continue overland into Spain. En route, enjoy touring in fascinating Evora, a former royal town and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore the narrow streets lined with whitewashed houses and see the ancient Roman ruins, the historic Jewish district, and the Moorish architecture.
Arrive in Seville, the capital of Andalusia and a city flavored as much by the sounds of flamenco and the smell of orange blossoms as by its 500-year domination by the Moors. Take an insider’s tour of this beautiful city. Explore the charming Santa Cruz neighborhood (the former Jewish Quarter), tour the gardens and mosaic tile-covered rooms of the Reales Alcazares (a spectacular Moorish palace), see the world's largest Gothic cathedral (which contains the tomb of Christopher Columbus), browse specialty boutiques and markets and other cultural highlights. One evening, you may wish to attend a local flamenco performance or a bullfight at the famed bullring. If desired, additional activities can be arranged, including visits to ceramics workshops in the Triana neighborhood, carriage rides through Plaza de Espana and Maria Luisa Park, seeing contemporary architecture such as Metropol Parasol, private flamenco dance or guitar lessons, architecture tours of World Expo buildings, visits to royal horse farms and excursions to Roman ruins or pueblos blancos (whitewashed villages).
Next, enjoy a private tour of Cordoba, a capital city under the Romans and the Moors. Cordoba was a major learning center during the Middle Ages and the hometown of Maimonides, the great Jewish rabbi and philosopher. During private touring, explore the highlights of the UNESCO-listed city center, such as the incredible Cathedral-Mosque, the ancient Roman bridge and the backstreets lined with whitewashed buildings and historic buildings in the old Jewish Quarter.
Board a high-speed train to Madrid, the Spanish capital known for its elegant squares, stately Habsburg architecture, leafy boulevards and superb museums. With your expert private guide, explore the highlights of the city. See world-renowned museums such as the Prado Museum, Reina Sofia, CaixaForum and/or the Thyssen-Bornemisza. Tour the majestic Royal Palace. Stroll through the exclusive shopping and residential districts. Also visit historic squares and lively markets, including the gourmet San Miguel Market. One evening, enjoy a private tasting tour of some of Madrid’s most beloved tapas bars. Upon request, additional experiences can be arranged such as tickets to soccer games and bullfights, preferred seats at Zarzuela performances, cooking lessons, touring with an art expert, visits to house-museums like Museo Cerralbo or Museo Sorolla, garden tours, shopping excursions and touring of contemporary art and architecture sites.
While in Madrid, enjoy a private excursion to Toledo. Known as the city of three cultures, Toledo once flourished as a unique center where Jews, Muslims and Christians lived in harmony. Accordingly, this mix of cultures is reflected in the city’s architecture, beautifully displayed in its ancient churches, mosques and synagogues embellished with the floral motifs, coffered ceilings and horseshoe arches of the Mudejar style. Toledo was also home to the painter known as El Greco, and many of his paintings still remain here, including his masterpiece, The Burial of Count Orgaz.
End your tour with comprehensive private touring in Barcelona, one of Europe's most dynamic cities. Tour narrow lanes and the ancient synagogue in the Call, the former heart of the Jewish community deep inside the Gothic Quarter. Discover Gaudi’s fantastical structures such as Sagrada Familia, Casa Mila, Casa Batllo and the hillside Parc Guell. Perhaps visit some of the city’s excellent museums, such as the Picasso Museum or Miro Museum. If desired, also explore the city’s shopping districts, stopping at upscale boutiques along the broad Passeig de Gracia and design shops in the stylish Born and Raval neighborhoods. Also visit the city’s leading food markets, including the Santa Caterina Market and La Boqueria Market. Upon request, Artisans of Leisure can also arrange a wide range of other activities in Barcelona, such as cooking lessons, excursions to Montserrat or the Costa Brava, private yacht charters, Jewish touring, tickets to soccer matches, hiking or biking in the nearby mountains, visiting favorite family attractions such as the Magic Fountain or Poble Espanyol, and wine tasting in the Penedes wine region.
One day, take an excursion to Girona, a lovely city that was once home to Spain's largest Jewish population. Visit Girona's Call, the best-preserved Jewish Quarter in Spain, and the Museum of Jewish History, as well as other highlights such as the Arab Baths and Gothic cathedral. Also tour nearby Besalu, a beautiful medieval town with a 12th-century mikvah, one of the oldest in Europe.