- Spend half a day in the famous the Prado museum concentrating on the works of Velasquez and Goya
- Visit the city’s other world renowned art collections: the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, the Museo Sorolla and the Reina Sofia Museum of Modern Art
- Venture to the historic city of Toledo, former capital of Spain, to explore Moorish cultural heritage and its links with the artist El Greco
London / Madrid
Depart London Gatwick on a British Airways mid-morning flight to Madrid. Meet your local guide on arrival and transfer to the NH Collection Madrid Paseo del Prado where four nights are spent. Located in the Plaza de las Cortes it is a perfect base from which to explore the city.
Late this afternoon leave the hotel on foot to visit the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. Housed in the 19th century neo-classical Palacio de Villahermosa, which was re-designed by architect Rafael Moneo, the museum houses the private art collections of Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza and his widow, Carmen. These two collections comprise almost one thousand works of art, most of them paintings, dating from the 13th century to the close of the 20th century. Take a stroll through the Rietro Park, one of the largest in Madrid. Return to the hotel before a welcome dinner at a local restaurant.
Early morning visit to the Prado Museum before it officially opens. The Prado, founded in the early 19th century, was built under instructions of King Carlos III and the Museum as such opened in 1819. Very recently, the prestigious Spanish architect, Rafael Moneo, has enlarged the old building by adding a new wing with additional rooms and a fantastic 15th century cloister. The Prado collection, with around 9,000 paintings, is one of the world’s most important and boasts names such as Bosch, Titian, El Greco, Rubens, Velázquez, Goya and Madrazo.
Lunch at a local restaurant. Continue to visit the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, which is housed in a beautifully restored 18th century former hospital close to the Prado. Inaugurated in 1992, the permanent collection here is based upon modern Spanish artists such as Dali, Gris and Miró, with Picasso’s renowned masterpiece Guernica as the centrepiece. Dinner under own arrangements. This evening there will be an optional visit to see a Flamenco show.
Madrid / Toledo
This morning leave for the historic city of Toledo. Dating from ancient times the city was later ruled by the Romans, Visigoths and Moors before El Cid captured it, making it capital of Castille. Long a centre of learning, the city became even more important until the Inquisition decimated its talented, and mixed-religious population. For a brief time in the 16th century it was also capital of Spain. On arrival visit the majestic 13th – 15th century Cathedral, with its Apostle series by El Greco and cloister garden. Continue to the Church of Santo Tomé, which houses one of El Greco’s most acclaimed paintings Entierro del Conde de Orgaz.
After lunch at a local restaurant. Visit the Synagogue of El Transito and of Santa Maria La Blanca. Return to Madrid where the rest of the evening is under your own arrangements.
After breakfast depart the hotel to visit the Palacio Real. This imposing granite and Colmenar stone building was commissioned by the Bourbon King Felipe V, and took almost thirty years to build. The elaborate interiors, created by Tiepolo, Velázquez and Bayeu among others, are an example of sumptuous extravagance and the Bourbon taste, housing a rich and varied collection of fine paintings, furniture, tapestries, glass, porcelain and clocks.
After lunch at a local restaurant visit the simple late-18th century neo-classical Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida, where the artist Francisco de Goya painted an exceptional series of secular frescoes. The church also houses Goya’s remains and a collection of the artist’s drawings, engravings and personal possessions. Continue to the Liria Palace for a private visit by kind arrangement of the Duchess of Alba (subject to confirmation). This special tour includes viewing the highlights of the Duchess’ collection of paintings and decorative arts, including works by Rembrandt, Velazquez, Goya and Botticelli, and a unique porcelain collection. Continue for a special private visit to see the historical palace and painting collection at the Palace of Marquis de Santa Cruz which is not open to the public.
Return to the hotel before a farewell cocktail reception at a private home showcasing a private art collection (by kind arrangement of Sofia Barroso). Dinner under own arrangements.
This morning time at leisure to go shopping or continue exploring Madrid independently. Check out of the hotel (with luggage) and visit the Museo Sorolla. The gallery is in the beautiful house where the Valencian painter Joaquín Sorolla lived for many years. It gives a fascinating insight into the life of the artist and the development of his work that tended towards Impressionism.
Lunch at local restaurant before continuing to the airport for an afternoon British Airways flight arriving back into London Heathrow early evening.