THE 2020 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 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, Olivenza, 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 UNESCO Toledo, the ‘city of three cultures’. We check into our Superior rooms at the 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. Over this and the following day we visit the exceptional Alcázar military museum, the ancient bridges and gates, cathedral, monastery and museums.
The next day we see Wellington’s first major battle fought alongside the Spanish, Talavera, 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 relaxing in the enchanting medieval town of Trujillo and our former Palace hotel with Superior rooms for the night.
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.
Over the next two days we head on to explore Beresford’s extraordinarily bloody battle of La Albuera, the terrible sieges of Badajoz, nearby Olivenza and the border town and fortress of Elvas with its delightful Nossa Senhora da Graça Fort and our Superior room hotel base with for two nights.
Whilst in Elvas we visit the enchanting British 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. We stay in another Palace for the night with Superior rooms.
Our drive to the border takes us to the action of El Bodon where infantry charged cavalry, and on to introduce the sieges and town of charming Ciudad Rodrigo. 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 into Ciudad Rodrigo for a full exploration of the town, staying a night in Superior rooms within the old castle.
We then head on to the fabled beauty of the UNESCO 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 and atmospheric day exploring Wellington’s momentous victory against Marshal Marmont across the open plains of Salamanca. In addition to a full exploration of the battlefield 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 UNESCO Cathedral and Castle, scene of Wellington’s aborted siege, trigger to the terrible retreat back to Portugal.
It’s now time to relax, as we head for Spain’s 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 castle and the winery where the great regional wine following 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.
Amongst the battlefields, culture and comfort, we will sample great regional cuisine, international fare and casual fine dining throughout the tour, together with a wonderful range of Spanish wines, stimulating 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, exploring battlefield and cultural history and landscapes in depth, enjoying and relaxing. Our tour also takes in no fewer than five UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Day by Day Summary
Saturday 2nd 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 from our Superior rooms, for the tour introduction and outline of the history of the era. You’ll also receive your unique leather campaign journal and enjoy a walk through historic Toledo before dining overlooking the illuminated city.
Sunday 3rd May: A full relaxing day in Toledo
We now benefit from a full day to explore the glories of Toledo, including the Alcazar Military Museum, the Cathedral, Monastery San Juan de los Reyes, El Greco Museum, City Gates, Ancient bridges and more.
Monday 4th May: Battles of Talavera & Almaraz, Medieval Trujillo
We visit Wellington’s battlefield of Talavera, exploring many different viewpoints and features 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, with it’s mountain-top and riverside fortresses. We stay in Superior rooms at our palace hotel in the medieval hilltop town of Trujillo, dining out on the most beautiful square in Spain.
Tuesday 5th May: UNESCO Heritage, untouched Spain
We spend the morning and lunch enjoying the Renaissance town of Cáceres, Spain’s first heritage UNESCO city, untouched by the wars of the last two centuries, before heading on to UNESCO Mérida to enjoy its extensive Roman architectural remains. We hotel in a 5 star Palace on the central square.
Wednesday 6th 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 stay here for two nights.
Thursday 7th May: Elvas, Olivenza and Fortress Country
We take an extra day to enjoy the border town and nearby points of interest to place the campaigns here in full perspective, including the evocative and atmospheric British Cemetery to share tales of the officers remembered there.
Friday 8th May: Peace, Architecture & Compelling Combat
On to the mighty Roman bridge of Alcantara, spanning the Tagus and scene of a famous Portuguese action. Then to the former bastion of Plasencia where we check in to our Superior rooms in our centre of town palace hotel, with time to admire the two Cathedrals and consider a different perspective on war.
Saturday 9th May: Border Battles, Castles, Sieges & Forts
A quick stop to view an intriguing infantry v cavalry action at El Bodon, before heading to the frontier town of Ciudad Rodrigo, viewing it as besieger, scene of mighty walls and surrounding heights where the French and British sieges succeeded in very different ways. Then on to the truly atmospheric Fort Concepcion, our special hotel for the night in remote border country.
Sunday 10th May: Exceptional Action Adventure
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’s a long walk back up, but worth it! We then move within Ciudad Rodrigo, in Superior rooms at the historic castle, strolling the walls and historic squares in both daylight and moonlight.
Monday 11th May: Pre-eminent Salamanca
We then travel to the distinguished old City of Salamanca, 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, Cathedrals and the magnificent Plaza Mayor, before dining at our hotel.
Tuesday 12th 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, then dine out in the Plaza Mayor.
Wednesday 13th 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. We stay in Superior rooms at our hotel alongside the river looking across to the city.
Thursday 14th 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 which has won “Best Spa in Spain” and hit the Condé Nast Traveller Gold List 2018.
Friday 15th 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 10 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.