Morocco & Andalucia: Islamic Gardens and ... - Sterling Tours

Morocco & Andalucia: Islamic Gardens and ... - Sterling Tours

Morocco & Andalucia: Islamic Gardens and Architecture

April 4 – 15, 2013

Co-sponsored by Pacific Horticulture Society

and the San Diego Horticultural Society

Escorted by Katherine Greenberg

Come with us to discover the splendid Islamic gardens and architecture of Morocco and

Andalucia. Our tour will take us from the Imperial Cities of Marrakech, Fez, and Meknes to

Tangier and across the Straits of Gibraltar to the Moorish Kingdoms of Granada, Cordoba, and

Seville. We will explore some of the ancient medinas and fabulous palaces that have enchanted

travelers for centuries. We also have invitations to visit exceptional private homes and gardens.

Along the way, we will enjoy regional cuisine in private homes and acclaimed restaurants, while

staying in traditional hotels in the heart of the old cities. Join us for an amazing adventure!

April 4, Thursday: USA – Marrakech, Morocco

April 5, Friday: Marrakech

Independent arrivals into Marrakech airport, with private transfers to our hotel, Jardins de la

Medina, located in the medina of Marrakech. Transfers may also be arranged, at cost, from the

Casablanca airport. In the late afternoon we will

meet our Moroccan guide and depart for the famed

Hotel La Mamounia, where we have a special

invitation to enjoy a cocktail and have a tour of its

legendary gardens. From there we will visit the vibrant

heart of the city, Jemaa el Fna Square, on our way to a

welcome dinner of Moroccan specialties. (D)

April 6, Saturday: Marrakech

Our day begins with a presentation on the history of the city by the Koutoubia minaret, the

symbol of Marrakech and a “reference” of world Islamic art. It was built under the Almohad

Berber dynasty on the site of the city’s 11 th century foundations. The minaret is the “sister” to

the Giralda tower in Seville, also from the 11 th century. From here we will visit Bahia Palace, a

classic example of Moorish-Andalusian art, where the transition from tradition to modernity in

Moroccan architecture at the turn of the 19 th century can be seen. Time allowing, we may also

visit the Saadian Tombs, the last window into the splendor of early 17 th century Moroccan

interior art. After a seafood lunch in the new city, we will enjoy a walk through the spectacular

Majorelle garden, designed in the 1920s by the French painter Jacques Majorelle. The garden

meticulously restored by the late Yves St. Laurent, and the home is now the Museum of

Moroccan Arts, with items from YSL’s own collection. We have a free evening to enjoy dinner in

one of the city’s excellent restaurants. (B, L)

April 7, Sunday: Marrakech

This morning we explore Marrakech’s bazaars, the largest in Morocco. We begin by walking

through the residential quarters of the old city, with their traditional public bakeries and baths,

to see the Ben Youssef Medersa, a 15 th century theological school that has recently been

restored. Then we visit the Museum of Marrakech, with its eclectic collection of crafts and

contemporary arts, housed in a former palace. As we walk through the narrow alleyways of the

medina, we will pass stalls displaying an astonishing variety of Moroccan arts and crafts. There

will be free time for lunch, and an afternoon excursion will take us toward the High Atlas

Mountains and the Ourika Valley, where the orchards and Berber villages are enclosed by

dramatic red cliffs. We will visit the Jardin Bio-Aromatique, a garden with over 50 species of

aromatic and medicinal plants native to Morocco, and learn about their traditional uses. This

evening we are invited to dinner in a lovely private residence amid the palm groves of

Marrakech. (B, D)

April 8, Monday: Marrakech – Fez

Today we drive to Fez, Morocco’s oldest Imperial City, crossing the Tadla Plains, one of the

Kingdom’s prime “bread baskets”. We continue through small villages to the Middle Atlas

range, where we will stop at the last natural forest of Moroccan cedars, Cedrus atlantica

‘Glauca’, and see a band of the indigenous Barbary macaques. After passing Ifrane, a mountain

station and site of Africa’s most prestigious university, we descend toward Fez, with an early

evening arrival. We will stop for lunch in Zayane at the Berber center Khenifra. Later we will

check into the famed Palais Jamaï, one of the country’s finest hotels. The hotel was built upon a

former vizier’s palace and features lovely terraced gardens and views of the medina. Dinner

awaits in the elegant Moroccan Room of the hotel’s original palace wing. (B, L, D)

April 9: Fez

Today we explore Fez, a World Heritage site that is considered the last true example of a typical

medieval Arab city. We begin in “old” Fez, which dates from the 9 th century, following its

labyrinthine alleys to the Attarine Medersa, the highest artistic achievement of the 14 th century

Merinid Dynasty. We will visit the mausoleum of Idriss II, the picturesque leather tannery, and

the restored 17 th century Nejjarine caravanserai. We will also explore the busy ateliers and

markets around the world’s oldest functioning university, the Qarawine. After a lunch of local

specialties in the medina, we will continue to the 15 th century “new” Fez, with its Boujeloud

“Blue” Gate and the Bou Inania Medersa, another jewel of the Merinids. We will also visit

workshops for making pottery and tile mosaics, a specialty of Fez. We have a free evening or an

optional dinner at the Maison Bleue, one of Morocco’s most esteemed traditional restaurants.

(B, L)

April 10: Fez – Meknes – Tangier

This morning we drive to the Imperial City of Meknes to see its astounding 17 th century granary,

a World Heritage site. Then we continue to Tangier,

formerly an international city on the Straits of Gibraltar,

with a span of 9 miles separating Morocco from Spain. We

arrive in Tangier in time for lunch and then enter the

Kasbah for a tour of the American Legion Museum with its

director. The museum first came into U.S. hands as a gift

from the Sultan, and is the only monument outside U.S.

territories registered as a National Historic Landmark.

Hidden in the maze of the Kasbah, the museum showcases

everything related to the city, including paintings and

crafts. We will check into El Minzah Hotel, ideally located in the center of the city, above the

Kasbah and port of Tangier. This evening we are invited for cocktails and dinner in a private

hillside villa with an exotic garden developed over the last 30 years by its owner. (B, L, D)

April 11, Thursday: Tangier – Granada

This morning a fast boat will take us across the Straits of Gibraltar to Tarifa, following the route

of the Moors, who crossed the Straits in 711 to conquer the Iberian Peninsula. We will meet our

Spanish guide and stop for lunch along the beautiful Costa del Sol. Then we will continue to

Granada and check into the Hotel Alhambra Palace, an elegant hotel near the Alhambra Palace

with views of the city and the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Dinner tonight is in the elegant hotel restaurant, followed

by a special guided visit to visit the palaces of the

Alhambra. Seeing the architectural details of the palaces

and patios illuminated at night is a memorable experience.

(B, L, D)

April 12, Friday: Granada

We will depart this morning on foot to visit the Alhambra

and the Generalife with our excellent local guide, who will give us an insider’s view of these

beautiful palaces and gardens. We are invited for a tapas lunch at the private Rodriguez-Acosta

Foundation, with its amazing architecture and terraced gardens overlooking the Sierra Nevada

Mountains. The complex was created in the early 20 th century by painter Jose Maria Rodriguez-

Acosta to house his studio and art collection. The director, Mrs. Cristina Rodriguez-Acosta, will

welcome us and show us the art collection of the Foundation’s Manuel Gomez Moreno

Museum. After lunch we will visit two significant private gardens in the Albaicin Quarter

overlooking the Alhambra. From there we go to the Royal Chapel, the burial place of the

Catholic Kings Isabella and Ferdinand, that houses part of Isabella’s personal art collection. A

free evening follows for dinner on your own or perhaps a flamenco performance. (B,D)

April 13, Saturday: Granada – Cordoba – Palma del Rio – Seville

This morning we depart by coach for a scenic drive through a landscape of silver-green olive

groves to Cordoba, passing picturesque castles and hill towns en route. In Cordoba, we will visit

the magnificent 8 th century Mosque. Its orange tree court is considered to be the oldest garden

in Europe. The mosque was expanded over several centuries and eventually converted into a

cathedral in the 15 th century. We will also visit the Alcazar de los Reyes Catolicos, which retains

attractive Moorish patios and terraced gardens. Then we will stroll through the Juderia, the old

Jewish quarter, to see its charming patios and visit the only remaining synagogue in the city. We

will enjoy a tapas lunch at El Churrasco Restaurant, once a private home with interior patios in

the old quarter, and then depart for Seville. On the way we will visit Islamic-influenced private

gardens in the village of Palma del Rio. On arrival in Seville, we check into the Casa Romana

Hotel. A free evening to enjoy un paseo en Sevilla, stopping for tapas or dinner in one of

Seville’s excellent restaurants. (B, L)

April 14, Sunday: Seville

In the morning, we will walk to the Alcazar to see its lovely gardens, patios, and spectacular

architecture. This fortress was begun in the 8 th century by Spanish Islamic rulers. In the 11 th

century, the Abassid kings added a royal palace. The Alcazar became the residence of the

Christian kings of Castile after the conquest of Seville by the Christians in 1248. Our guide has

written a book of “tales” of the Alcazar, and he will give us his insights into the fascinating

history of this amazing palace. Then we will enjoy a walk through the Barrio de Santa Cruz, the

old Jewish quarter with lovely flower-filled patios, and visit the Cathedral of Seville. It is the

largest Gothic cathedral in the world and a museum in itself, with paintings by Goya and other

Spanish artists.

Our lunch today is in the charming Corral del Agua, originally a private home in the old quarter.

After an afternoon carriage ride through Maria Luisa Park, we will visit the Casa de Pilatos,

private home and foundation of the Duchess of Medinaceli. This extraordinary palace has

beautiful gardens and courtyards featuring magnificent tiles and architectural details. Tonight

our farewell dinner will be in the private home of the Italian Consuls in Seville, Jose Carlos and

Celia Ruiz-Berdejo y Sigurta, in the Santa Cruz quarter, where we will also enjoy Spanish guitar

music and a representation of the opera Carmen. (B, L, D)

April 15, Monday: Seville – USA Individual departures for return flights to the USA.


Guides: Arrangements have been made for two private guides to accompany our group, one

for Morocco and one for Spain, and both with expertise in Islamic gardens, architecture, and

culture. Local experts will join the tour from time to time to enhance our experience, and

Katherine Greenberg will escort the group throughout the tour.

Tour Escort: Katherine Greenberg is a garden designer from California with a special

interest in Mediterranean gardens and culture. She is a past president of Pacific Horticulture

Society, the Mediterranean Garden Society, and the Friends of the Regional Parks Botanic

Garden. Katherine studied Spanish history at the University of Madrid, and she has led a

number of tours to Spain and Morocco with a focus on gardens, culture, and cuisine. She is the

author of Growing California Native Plants, 2 nd edition, published by UC Press in 2012, as well

as several cook books. Her father worked as an agricultural consultant in Morocco and Spain.

Hotels: All hotels have been selected for their location, amenities, and historical interest.

Hotel Les Jardins de la Medina, ideally located in the Kasbah of Marrakech, features rooms that

open to the gardens, a swimming pool, and a Moroccan hammam. Palais Jamaï in Fez is a

former palace just inside the walls of the old city and one of Morocco’s most famous hotels. We

will stay in deluxe rooms with views of the medina. The hotel has lovely terraced gardens and a

swimming pool and spa. El Minzah is a traditional Moroccan hotel in the center of Tangier. The

hotel has been the meeting place for dignitaries and celebrities, and it has a central courtyard,

pool, and spa. Alhambra Palace Hotel, designed in the Moorish style with authentic

architectural details throughout, is a short walk from the Alhambra. The hotel’s terrace and

rooms have spectacular views of the mountains and the city below. Casa Romana is a boutique

hotel, formerly a private home with enclosed patios, located in the heart in Seville near

restaurants, the shopping district, the old quarter, and the Plaza de Toros, one of the most

beautiful in Spain. The hotel has a roof-top terrace with a restaurant and pool.

Gardens and Architecture: We have special invitations to visit some of the most

exceptional gardens and palaces of Morocco and Andalucia. The hallmarks of Islamic gardens

and architecture include enclosed patios and pavilions, intricate architectural details with

geometric motifs, the integration of interior and exterior spaces, cooling fountains and pools,

exotic plants, lavish use of tiles, and a dazzling array of colors, patterns, and textures.

Cuisine: Moroccan and Andalusian cuisine is a unique blend of Berber, Arabic, and Spanish

traditions. Spices are an essential part of Moroccan cooking, used to enhance the flavors of

meats and vegetables. Cumin, saffron, ginger, turmeric, cloves, and cinnamon are the most

commonly used spices. The national dish is tagine, made with lamb, chicken or fish. According

to the season, meals feature a selection of salads, soups, couscous or tagine, fragrant bstilla,

and delicate pastries served with mint tea. Andalusian cooking reflects Islamic influences, and

local specialties include an amazing selection of tapas, gazpacho, fresh seafood, grilled meats,

and excellent wines. Lunch is typically the main meal, and the evening may begin with tapas

and a dinner of one or more dishes later in the evening.

Shopping, Spa, or Cooking: Morocco and Spain are known for their outstanding arts and

crafts, and there will be limited time for shopping during the tour. Some guests may want to

arrive a day or two before the tour to have more time for shopping or to visit a spa.

A private shopping guide can be arranged in advance, and this is particularly recommended for

Marrakech, where there are numerous shops, a tradition of bargaining, and a confusing maze

of narrow alleys. Cooking classes can be arranged in Marrakech or Seville for those who are


Physical Endurance Level: The tour includes a moderate amount of walking, and some of

the places that we will be visiting can only be seen on foot. Walking surfaces may be uneven,

and comfortable shoes are recommended.


Based on a minimum of 15 paying guests: $7295.00 per person

Single supplement: $1298.00


� 10 nights select accommodations, all rooms fully en suite

� All hotel taxes and service charges

� 9 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners , 1 reception

� Deluxe private coaches and top drivers

� Boat from Tangier to Granada

� English speaking local guides in Morocco and Spain.

� All sightseeing and entrances as per the itinerary

� Deluxe portfolio of documents

� Escorted by Katherine Greenberg.

� Donation of $200 to Pacific Horticulture or San Diego Horticultural Society


� International Airfare

� Travel insurance

� Passports and Visas.

To make a reservation, please complete and submit either a printed booking form

or online registration. Online booking available at:

Or contact:

Sterling Tours, Ltd

2907 Shelter Island Drive Suite #105-262

San Diego, CA 92106 Tel: 619 299-3010 800-976-9497 CST2023849-40

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