Madrid – Art, History and Culture

MADRID – In spite of its ancient origins, Madrid, situated on a windswept plateau 650 metres above sea-level at the centre of the Iberian peninsular, belongs to that special category – which includes St Petersburg, Washington and Brasilia – of cities which did not grow up naturally at a crossroad or the confluence of navigable streams but were deliberately created for a special political purpose. Established by Philip the Second in 1561, Madrid was to be the Court of the Spanish Autocracy, the whole Court and nothing but the Court.

On arrival in Madrid, we visit the Thyseen-Bornemisza Museum, the outstanding private collection of 20th-century art, housed in the 18th-century Villahermosa Palace on the elegant Paseo del Prado in Bourbon Madrid, where the following day we visit the Prado, with the world’s finest collection of European Art. We stroll through the Barrio de Las Letras (Districs of Letters), home to Cervantes and Lope de Vega, before visiting the lavish Royal Palace. We see the city’s rare surviving example of 16th-century architecture when visiting The Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales and its considerable collection of works of art, followed by one of Madrid’s most important museums, Cerralbo, housing the art collection of Enrique de Aguilera y Gamboa, 17th Marquis of Cerralbo, who died in 1922.

We visit the former studio-mansion and garden of impressionist painter Joaquin Serrola, designed by him and left as it was when he died in 1923, now a museum of his paintings. We see Picasso’s Guernica, the highlight of the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, the museum of 20th-century art housed in the former 18th-century General Hospital. Our day visit to Toledo, its Cathedral and the church of Saint Tome to see El Greco’s masterpiece of The Burial of the Count of Orgaz, will finish with a wine and cheese tasting at the Bodegas Osborne vineyards. Before our return flight we visit the 16th-century Palace Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial – mausoleum, retreat, Chapterhouses, royal pantheon, library, museum, royal appartments.

We stay at the 4* Hotel H10 Villa de la Reina, well located and central. The visit will be led by a local, licensed expert guide, using an audio system.

The trip is limited to 16 people.

The trip is organised with St. James’s Art Tours, founded by Jane Angelini 1998, working with Millennium Tours Ltd, and is renowned for its well planned cultural visits. Full details of the trip, as well as booking forms, can be obtained now from:

St James’s Art Tours. Email: Or call: 01959 571264

Details also available from The Arts Society Kensington & Chelsea.

Email: The price per person is £1,645 (deposit £350). The single room supplement is £255 per person, for a single room (slightly smaller than Classic room) with small double bed. Or £315 for a Classic room with King bed.

The price is inclusive of British Airways flights from Heathrow, four night’s accommodation, transport when required, three dinners and four lunches with wine, local guide, and entry fees.

Please note, our events are accessible to members only.

Members will receive lecture and visit details on the monthly noticeboard email.

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