Discover Jewish Civilization Around the Globe


Jewish Life in



Wednesday, September 4th to Sunday, September 15th, 2019


Study Tour Led by


Javier del Barco


Senior Research Fellow in Judaic Studies


Center for Humanities and Social Sciences


Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)






Spain is as rich in Jewish history as it is beautiful.  Learning about the Golden Age of medieval Jewish life and its aftermath is critical to understanding and appreciating the unfolding of Jewish history until today.  The magnificent cities with their striking edifices like the Alhambra in Granada and Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and the long stretches of olive trees in the countryside make Spain one of the world’s most popular destinations.


The primary focus of our study tour is Jewish Life in Medieval Spain Its secondary emphasis is on the world renown art collections found in museums sprinkled across the country, from the Prado in Madrid to the El Greco Museum in Toledo.



Wednesday, September 4th – Day 1 – FLY TO SPAIN

The Prado

Thursday, September 5th – Day 2 – ARRIVAL TO SPAIN / MADRID



Proceed on your own to the hotel for Introductions and a brief Overview

of the study tour.


We will then take a panoramic city bus tour including Puerta de Alcalá, "Alcalá Gate", and a 18th-century monument in the Plaza de la Independencia, "Independence Square".  We will also see Plaza Colón, known for its unique statues celebrating the voyages of Columbus.



Lunch on our own in the Retiro Park, a historic park formerly gardens of the Habsburgs’ resting (“Retiro”) Palace, destroyed by Napoleon’s French armies. This historic setting will serve as a backdrop for our first Study Session on JEWS IN SPAIN AND SPAIN IN JEWISH HISTORY.


Our first museum visit will be at one of the world's most renowned art museums, the Prado. Dating back 1819 (thus celebrating its 200 years in 2019), the museum has a very large collection of Old Masters. The Prado holds over 8,600 paintings that span the 12th to 19th Centuries.

In the late afternoon, you will have time to unpack and relax.



We will enjoy a Welcome Dinner together.


Meals:             Welcome Dinner


Overnight:     Madrid – Melia Galgos Hotel


El Greco Museum

Friday, September 6th – Day 3 – TOLEDO



After breakfasting at the hotel, we will have our second Study Session on ALFONSO THE WISE AND THE ‘CONVIVENCIA’ AS A CULTURAL PARADIGM. We will board the motor coach for our ride to Toledo. We will take a Panoramic tour of the city before heading down to the city itself. Our tour of the city will include the Jewish Quarter, the Samuel Halevi Abulafia Synagogue - which was turned in the 16th century into a church known as Nuestra Señora del Tránsito and some decades ago into the Sephardic Museum - and the Santa María La Blanca Church (thought to be at some point the Grand Synagogue).



After lunch on our own, we will visit the El Greco Museum, dedicated to the painter, and the influence his work and personality had on early 17th century Toledo, and the Grand Toledo Cathedral. We will then board our motor coach for the ride back to Madrid.


Evening:                                                                                                                 We will then go to (optional) services at the Central Synagogue and have Erev Shabbat Dinner at a local restaurant.

Meals:           Breakfast and Erev Shabbat Dinner

Overnight:    Madrid – Melia Galgos Hotel 

Archaeological Museum

Saturday, September 7th – Day 4 – SHABBAT IN MADRID



After breakfast at the hotel, we will go (optional) services at the Central




We suggest four options if you want to do museum hopping on your own in the afternoon. Taking a taxi is required.


·        The National Museum “Centro de Arte Reina Sofia” is dedicated to contemporary art. Its most famous piece is Picasso’s “Guernica.” You can take a taxi on your own to the National Museum.


·        The Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando with a collection of 1500 paintings and over 500 sculptures.


·        The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. With 1,500 paintings, this at one time was the 2nd largest private collection in the world.


·        The Museo Arqueológico Nacional (Archaeological Museum), dedicated to archaeological findings from the Iberian, Roman, Visigothic and Medieval Islamic and Christian cultures in the Iberian Peninsula.



You are at leisure to enjoy Madrid’s culinary and cultural delights.


Meals:             Breakfast


Overnight:     Madrid – Melia Galgos Hotel

Maimonides Statue in Cordoba

Sunday, September 8th – Day 5 – CÓRDOBA



After an early breakfast and check-out, we will enjoy our third Study Session on ISLAMIC SPAIN (AL-ANDALUS) AND THE ROLE OF JEWS IN ANDALUSIAN POLITICS AND CULTURE.  After that, we will head to Córdoba, the capital of the medieval Caliphate of al-Andalus. We will experience travelling on one of Spain’s high-speed trains.


We will visit the world-famous Cathedral-Mosque with its 1,000 colored columns and many additions. Afterwards we will enter the Jewish Quarter, including Plaza Tiberias and the Yehuda Halevi Square. The walking tour will continue to view the Statue of Maimonides and then visit the small Mudéjar-styled building known as the Maimonides Synagogue.



After lunch on your own, we will visit Casa de Sefarad, dedicated to the history of the Sephardic Jews living in Córdoba and Spain prior to the Inquisition and expulsion in 1492, and meet with the people responsible for the creation of this private historical venture in the Jewish Quarter.


We will then board our motor coach for the ride to Seville, a city that was shaped by both Renaissance and Arabic influences.  



You are at leisure to explore Seville on your own.


Meals:             Breakfast


Overnight:      Seville - Las Casas de Judería  



Cathedral in Seville

Monday, September 9th – Day 6 – SEVILLE



After breakfast at the hotel, we will have our fourth Study Session on HEBREW POETRY FROM SPAIN: THE GOLDEN AND SILVER AGES. Afterwards, our first stop will be the Alcázar Palace. Then we are off to visit the Great Cathedral, the burial place of Christopher Columbus and the Giralda, formerly the old Great Mosque’s tower, built in the 12th century whose bell and vane added in the 16th century became the city's symbol.



After lunch, we will visit the Santa Cruz neighborhood, formerly Seville's Jewish Quarter, once known as La Judería, with its winding alleyways and remnants of Jewish life.



Afterwards, there will be free time to explore Seville and have dinner on

your own.


Meals:             Breakfast


Overnight:     Seville - Las Casas de Judería  

Alhambra at Night

Tuesday, September 10th – Day 7 – GRANADA



After an early breakfast and check out, we will enjoy our fifth Study Session: BACK TO THE SOURCES: MEDIEVAL HEBREW MANUSCRIPTS FROM SPAIN AND IN SPAIN. Then we will board our motor coach for the drive to Granada, the last stronghold of the Moors before it fell to Isabella and Ferdinand in 1492.



After lunch on your own, we will enjoy our exploration of the meandering streets and the traditional neighborhood with no physical remnants of the Jewish community but with stories that abound.


We will then visit the Museum of Fine Arts housed in the Palace of Carlos V.  It has works of art dating back to the 15th Century. 


The late afternoon is free to rest-up or explore on your own.



Dinner on your own and evening at leisure.  The Alhambra lit up at night

dominates the city.


Meals:             Breakfast


Overnight:     Granada – Hotel Abades


The Alhambra in Granada

Wednesday, September 11th – Day 8 – GRANADA



After breakfast, we will visit the Albayzin (the ancient Moorish neighborhood) and the fabulous Alhambra Palace and Generalife Gardens. A specially-licensed guide will take us through this UNESCO World Heritage Site.



The afternoon is at leisure.



We will enjoy dinner together at a local restaurant. Before dinner, Dr. Del Barco will conduct our sixth Study Session on JEWISH EXPERIENCE AFTER THE ‘RECONQUISTA’: CULTURAL AND INTELLECTUAL LIFE IN CHRISTIAN SPAIN


Meals:             Breakfast and Dinner


Overnight:     Granada – Hotel Abades

Church of the Segrada Familia in Barcelona

Thursday, September 12th – Day 9-BARCELONA



After breakfast and check-out, we will transfer to the airport for the flight

to Barcelona.


After arriving in the late morning, we head out for a panoramic tour of Barcelona including Plaça Espanya and the Mountain of Montjuïc where the international Exhibition of 1929 was held and where the Olympic Ring (1992) is found, Passeig Marítim with the Columbus monument, and Passeig de Gràcia with its Modernist Houses designed by Antoni Gaudí.



After lunch on your own, we will visit Gaudi's spectacular expiatory Church of the Sagrada Familia. We will then proceed to our hotel for check-in and time to relax.



We will have a night on the town together with dinner and flamenco



Meals:            Breakfast and Dinner


Overnight:    Barcelona – Zenit Hotel


Friday, September 13th – Day 10 – GERONA   


After breakfast, we will have our seventh Study session on INQUISITION, EXPULSION AND AFTERMATH. We will then proceed to Gerona, the city where Moshe ben Nahman was born and lived in the 13th century, with a very well-preserved Jewish neighborhood (el Call).



After lunch on your own, we will visit the Museu d’Història dels Jueus – Patronat Call de Girona, located in the Jewish neighborhood. In the late afternoon, we will return to Barcelona to the hotel to relax before Shabbat.



There will be optional Shabbat services at a local synagogue.  There will be two to choose from: the Sephardic Orthodox (perhaps most interesting, but difficult to follow along) and the Reform. Our motor coach will make a drop-off and pick-up loop We will then go to a local restaurant to enjoy our Erev Shabbat Dinner together. 


Meals:            Breakfast and Erev Shabbat Dinner


Overnight:     Barcelona – Zenit Hotel


Picasso Museum in Barcelona

Saturday, September 14th – Day 11 – SHABBAT IN BARCELONA


After breakfast at the hotel, there will be optional Shabbat morning services at a local synagogue.


Later, we will depart the hotel for a walking tour of the Gothic Quarter. According to archaeological evidence, there was a sizable Jewish community in Catalonia that existed from as early as the beginning of the Common Era. During our walking tour, we will visit the Picasso Museum and the Old Synagogue.


For centuries thereafter, the Jews of Barcelona managed their own local affairs and lived relatively well in their own Jewish Quarter.



We will enjoy Shabbat lunch together at a restaurant along the way. Walk along the world-famous Las Ramblas, the wide central promenade, with all its wonders, stalls and artists.



We  will   have  our Wrap-Up  Session with Dr. del Barco   followed  by  our

Farewell Dinner


Meals:            Breakfast, Lunch and Farewell Dinner

Overnight:     Barcelona – Zenit Hotel


Sunday, September 15th – DEPARTURE      


After breakfast and check-out you are on your own to go to the airport

or extend your stay.


This itinerary is subject to change.


The Scholar


Javier del Barco, Ph.D.  is a Senior Research Fellow in Judaic Studies at the Center for Humanities and Social Sciences in Madrid.  A native of Spain, Dr. del Barco is an accomplished researcher who regularly takes part in academic conferences throughout Europe. He received his Ph. D. from the Complutense University of Madrid, one of the finest academic institutions in Spain and one of the world’s oldest universities. Javier did his post-doctoral work in the Departments of Hebrew Language, Bible and Assyriology at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He also has done research at The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City.


Our Tour Escort

Moshe Margolin is the Director of Jewish Explorations. He holds degrees from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Teachers College, Columbia University.

His career in the field of Jewish Education spans four decades. He has held senior positions in both the United States and in Israel including the founding VP of Education for Birthright Israel and the Program Officer at the Fulbright Commission at the American Embassy in Tel Aviv. He has been associated with The Hebrew University, Tel Aviv University, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Hebrew College in Boston and The Jewish Theological Seminary.

Moshe is married to Dr. Judith Margolin, the Clinical Director of the Women’s Program at Penn Medicine’s Princeton Behavioral Health. She is in private practice as well. They live in Princeton and have three grown children and a grandson.


For Travel-Related Questions:

Contact Ariel Lipszyc

Gil Travel Group

800-223-3855 x 239



For Program Questions:

Contact Moshe Margolin, Director

Jewish Explorations













Land Only price based on a minimum of 10 participants.


A $500/per person deposit is required upon registration.


The experts at the Gil Travel Group will gladly make your

air and extension arrangements.











Sept. 5-7


Melia Galgos Hotel


Sept. 8-9


Hotel Las Casas de la Juderia


Sept. 10-11


Hotel Abades


Sept. 12-14


Zenit Hotel








  • The Scholar: The Scholar prepares Bibliography and Resource Book to be distributed before departure and accompanies the group giving Study Sessions as indicated in the itinerary.


  • Meals: Breakfast daily, + 1 lunch, 6 dinners. Wine and sparkling water served at lunch and dinners.


  • Sightseeing and Transportation.


  • 10 days of sightseeing including entrance fees to all sights on itinerary using a deluxe air-conditioned motor coach and the services of English-speaking Tour Guides and a Tour Escort.


  • Also included: Flamenco show.


  • Fast Train Between Madrid and Cordoba.


  • Airfare: Granada to Barcelona (both Full and Land Only packages)


  • Porterage: 1 piece of luggage per person at each hotel and airport.


  • Tips: Tips to the guides, driver, and chambermaid are included. Tips for all group meals are included.


  • Bottled Water on the bus.





  • Meals:  Lunches and dinners not mentioned in itinerary.


  • Alcoholic beverages (except wine) are not included and will be billed    per consumption.


  • Guests for meals are not included and will be billed at the end of the trip.


  • Personal Expenses: All personal expenses including souvenirs, laundry services, valet service, phone calls, etc.




This program is copyrighted by Adult Jewish Learning Programs LLC.  Travel services for Jewish Explorations study tours are provided exclusively by the Gil Travel Group.


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