THE 2019 PENINSULAR WAR SPAIN CAMPAIGN TOUR
The future Duke of Wellington switches from strategic defence to aggressive attack
We include Art & Architecture, Castles & Cathedrals, Palaces & Roman Archaeology, Vineyards, Gastronomy & More
We visit the historic treasures of Toledo, Trujillo, Caceres, Merida, Plasencia, Salamanca, Burgos & Ribera Del Duero
ALL-INCLUSIVE SMALL GROUP TOUR
Epic Landscapes & The Spirit of Spain
“This battle is the most cleverly fought, the largest in scale, the most important in results, of any that the English have won in recent times. It brings up Lord Wellington’s reputation almost to the level of that of Marlborough.”
The Duke of Wellington’s switch from strategic defence to aggressive attack marked a turning point in the war against Napoleonic France, inspiring allies to renew arms against an enemy that had controlled so much of Europe for almost 20 years. Its a truly fascinating period which we bring to life on tour.
Visiting the sites of Wellington’s Spanish Peninsular War battles and campaigns from 1809-12, we enjoy countryside of stunning natural beauty with ancient castles, monasteries, Roman bridges, palaces, gothic cathedrals, dramatic mountain tops and rivers, including sites missed by most travellers to Spain.
Along the way we explore the battlefields of Talavera, La Albuera, Salamanca, the actions of Almaraz, Alcantara, Barba del Puerco, El Bodon, Alba de Tormes, Garci Hernandez, Tordesillas, the sieges of Badajoz, Ciudad Rodrigo and Burgos, and the great Portuguese border fortress of Elvas.
Gathering at Madrid Airport, we head off to the masterpiece that is Toledo, the ‘city of three cultures’. We check into our hotel, admiring the best views across the river to the old city. We then take a late afternoon wander through the captivating streets before retiring and dining with the views.
The next day we see Wellington’s first major battle fought alongside the Spanish, witness to lessons in the military art of co-operation, outposts, hard fighting, logistics and the bravery of the French opponents. We head on to view Hill’s exceptional action at Almaraz, the bridge of boats and the mountain-top fort. We end the day in the enchanting medieval town of Trujillo.
The next day is a day of culture and wider history, within the monumental UNESCO City of Cacéres. After lunch we head to the once Roman provincial capital, Mérida, with its UNESCO Theatre, Circus, Temple, Walls and Bridge, checking in for the night at our 5-star Palace on the main square.
On our third day we explore explore Beresford’s extraordinarily bloody battle of La Albuera, the terrible sieges of Badajoz and the more relaxing border town and fortress of Elvas with its delightful Nossa Senhora da Graça Fort.
Staying beside Elvas, we visit the enchanting English cemetery, then on to the spectacular Roman bridge and action of Alcantara, before heading to the old quarter and narrow streets of Plasencia, forcibly taken no less than 12 times during the war, a reminder that this was much more than just Wellington’s war.
Our drive to the border takes us to the action of El Bodon where infantry charged cavalry, and on to explore the sieges and town of charming Ciudad Rodrigo, where we lunch within the fort. We then head to Fort Concepcion, former border fortress and now romantic hotel telling many a Napoleonic tale.
The next day sees an optional early start for the intrepid, walking down to the dramatic gorge of Barba del Puerco, scene of French incursions, a great escape and the famed action of the 95th Rifles. On our return we collect our more leisurely colleagues, heading to the fabled beauty of the Old City of Salamanca. We check into our centrally located 5-star palace before a walking tour of the nearby Cathedral, Napoleonic forts and the beautiful main Square.
Then a great day exploring Wellington’s momentous victory against Marshal Marmont across the open plains of Salamanca. We follow the French escape route across Alba de Tormes and the dramatic breaking of squares at Garci Hernandez, before heading back for another evening in Salamanca and its wonderful illuminations.
The next day we take in the tactical movements at Tordesillas bridge, en-route to the jewel that is Burgos, a tiny City with its extraordinary Cathedral and Castle, scene of Wellington’s aborted siege, and trigger to the terrible retreat back to Portugal.
It’s now time to relax, as we head for Spain’s lesser known, but highest rated, wine region of Ribera Del Duero. There’s interest here for the military minded, but the core attraction is “The Golden Mile”, home to the greatest Spanish wine estate of all, Vega Sicilia. It is in a 5-star monastery on the Mile that we’ll check in for our last evening on tour together.
During the afternoon we’ll visit the winery where the great regional wine started, Tinto Pesquera, whilst those who prefer may stay in the hotel, enjoying complimentary spa treatments before we gather for dinner.
On our final day we return to Madrid Airport for flights home, or central Madrid for those electing to stay on for a few days.
We will sample great regional cuisine, international fare and fine dining throughout the tour, together with a wonderful range of Spanish wines, to stimulate minds and palates along the way.
Our Small Group tours are carefully designed to minimise travel time between each destination, increasing the time available for visiting, enjoying and relaxing. Despite this, our tour takes in no fewer than four UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
We’ll be delighted to talk you through any aspect of the tour and explain our approach to top quality battlefield tourism, so please do get in touch.
Day by Day Summary
Saturday 11th May Early PM: Meet & Greet
We gather early afternoon at Madrid Airport for a warm welcome, heading straight to our Toledo hotel with its magnificent views for the tour introduction and outline of the history of the era where you’ll also receive your unique leather campaign journal. We enjoy a walk through historic Toledo before dining at our hotel overlooking the illuminated city.
Sunday 12th May: Battles of Talavera & Almaraz, Medieval Trujillo
We visit Wellington’s battlefield of Talavera, exploring many different viewpoints, features and monuments as we describe the unfolding battle. Onwards to Hill’s raid on Almaraz which had such a positive impact on Wellington’s freedom of movement, the mountain-top fortress and the forts commanding the Bridge of Boats. We head onwards to stay in the medieval hilltop town of Trujillo with the most beautiful square in Spain.
Monday 13th May: UNESCO Heritage, untouched Spain
We spend the morning and lunch enjoying the Renaissance town of Cáceres, Spain’s first heritage city, untouched by the wars of the last two centuries, before heading on to Mérida to enjoy its extensive Roman architecture. We hotel in a 5 star Palace on the central square.
Tuesday 14th May: Bloody Battlefields & Sieges, Relaxing Beauty
We tour the hills and bridges of La Albuera, where Beresford fought a bloody battle to defend his nearby siege of Badajoz. On to Badajoz where a succession of French and British sieges ended in terrible scenes. Its almost a relief to head across the border into Portugal to see mighty Elvas, a strong base for Wellington’s Anglo-Portuguese armies. We hotel close to its walls.
Wednesday 15th May: Peace, Architecture & Compelling Combat
A gentle start as we visit the atmospheric English Cemetery to share tales of the officers remembered there. On to the mighty Roman bridge of Alcantara, spanning the Tagus and scene of a famous Portuguese action. Onwards to the former bastion of Plasencia where we hotel in the centre of town, with time to admire the two Cathedrals and consider a different perspective on war.
Thursday 16th May: Border Battles, Castles, Sieges & Forts
A quick stop to view an intriguing infantry v cavalry action at El Bodon, before heading on to the frontier town of Ciudad Rodrigo, visiting the castle, the squares, the walls and surrounding heights where the French and British sieges succeeded in very different ways. On to the truly atmospheric Fort Concepcion, our special hotel for the night in remote border country.
Friday 17th May: Optional exertion, Pre-eminent Salamanca
An optional early start for those keen to climb down to the narrow Roman Bridge at Barba del Puerco, famed for its tale of the 95th Rifles, and scene of many more stories that we’ll bring to life. It feels a long walk back up, but worth it! We then travel together to the distinguished old City of Salamanca, and our central 5 star hotel for two nights, surrounded by the majesty of ancient religious buildings. A gentle walking tour takes in the Roman bridge, the forts, the Cathedrals and the magnificent Plaza Mayor.
Saturday 18th May: Battle of Salmanca, Alba de Tormes, Garci Hernandez
The Battle that changed French perceptions of Wellington. His sudden seizing of the initiative led to comparisons with Marlborough, and we study this remarkable landscape in the depth it truly deserves. We follow in the steps of the French who escaped across the Alba de Tormes, and the legendary rearguard rout at Garci Hernandez before another relaxing night in Salamanca.
Sunday 19th May: The Cathedral & Siege of Burgos
Onwards again, via the Bridge of Tordesillas, scene of multiple actions in 1812, to the small but beautifully formed riverside city of Burgos. Home to the legendary El Cid, this was also a major Napoleonic staging post. We visit Spain’s first Gothic and Royal Cathedral, before climbing to the castle to view the scene of the successful French defence.
Monday 20th May: Wine Country & Spa
Wending our way back towards Madrid, we not only visit Spain’s greatest wine region, Ribera del Duero, but stay in a former monastery, now a 5-star spa hotel along The Golden Mile, Spain’s richest ‘terroir’. Home to legendary wine labels, we visit the winery where the excitement started. Those less intrigued by wine are welcome to enjoy complimentary spa treatments at the hotel.
Tuesday 21st May: Fond Farewell
We return to Madrid airport for your homeward flights, or to central Madrid if you choose to stay on stay on for a few extra nights.
A Blend of City, Fortress, Historic, Palace & Monastery 4-5 Stars
Our tour takes in 9 top quality hotels, hand-picked for your comfort, reflecting the character of each location.
This adds to the variety of your experience and, critically, avoids long travel times during and at the end of each day.
From modern to rustic, charming to boutique, each is designed to give us a great end to the day, a good night's sleep and a refreshing start.
These carefully selected hotels offer the best facilities in each location, and we’ve tried and tested each one to suit your tour enjoyment.
We often book superior rooms in these hotels to ensure you enjoy the best of comfort and views.