Renmore History Society

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RHS Spain 2016


The destination for this year’s society trip is Madrid, Spain. We are also including a bus tour and spending one night in Salamanca.

One of the greatest museums in the world, the Prado displays superb works by Spanish masters such as Velázquez, El Greco and Goya (pictured)


Destination info
Madrid has been the capital of Spain since 1562 and is located at the geographic centre of the Iberian Peninsula. Because of its central location and high altitude, the climate of Madrid is characterized by warm dry summers and cool winters. Madrid is a city of great monuments. Among its highlights is the medieval centre dating back to the Habsburg Empire and the Prado Museum. The city is not just a cultural destination it is also a lively metropolis with many pubs, cafes, discotheques and nightclubs which open late into the night.
Madrid is also home to the National Naval Museum which presently forms part of the Spanish Armada's Naval Headquarters in Madrid and is one of the most important naval museums in the world. The museum exhibits collections of a variety of historic items that reflect the rich history of the Spanish Navy and the leading role it played in the history of navigation.
Possibly the most prized of these exhibits is the Mappa Mundi, which dates back to 1500 and was drawn by the Spanish cartographer Juan de la Cosa. A mariner and explorer who made seven voyages to America, de la Cosa travelled in the company of Columbus himself on two of the voyages. On the Mappa Mundi Juan de la Cosa made note of the discoveries of Columbus’ first three voyages, even including on it an outline of Cuba. This is the first known representation of the American continent. De la Cosa drew the map on a section of ox-hide and illustrated it exquisitely in watercolours and ink.

Toledo Cathedral


Toledo is one of the most important centres of European medieval history. It was first written about by the Roman author Titus Livius, who describes it as a "small fortificated town". In fact fortification has always been an important parameter in its history and it’s still evident to today.
Toledo was capital of Spain from the Gothic epoch until 1560, fact that explains its really impressive medieval architecture. Strolling through the streets gives one the sense of stepping back in time to the Middle Ages.
Toledo steel was famed in ancient times as it was unusually hard and was much sought after for sword-making as early as c. 500 BC. Swords of Toledo were used by Hannibal in the Punic Wars and became a standard source of weaponry for Roman legions. Toledo steel was famed for its very high quality alloy, whereas Damascus steel, a competitor from the Middle Ages onward, was famed for a specific metal-working technique.

Successively a Roman municipium, the capital of the Visigothic Kingdom, a fortress of the Emirate of Cordoba, an outpost of the Christian kingdoms fighting the Moors and, in the 16th century, the temporary seat of supreme power under Charles V, Toledo is the repository of more than 2,000 years of history. Its masterpieces are the product of heterogeneous civilizations in an environment where the existence of three major religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – was a major factor. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986 for its extensive cultural and monumental heritage and historical co-existence of Christian, Muslim and Jewish cultures.


The walls of Ávila

The Town of Stones and Saints which claims that it is one of the towns with the highest number of Romanesque and Gothic churches (and bars and restaurants) per capita in Spain. The town is also known as Ávila de los Caballeros, Ávila del Rey and Ávila de los Leales (Ávila of the Knights, the King and the Loyalists), each of these epithets is present in the town standard.
Ávila is Spain's highest provincial city, being approximately 1,130 metres / 3,706 feet above sea level. The city sits against the backdrop of the Sierra de Avila, on a ridge that overlooks the Río Adaja (River Adaja) and a craggy plain.
Iberian tribes established the city before it was integrated into the Celtic culture and eventually Romanised and Christianised. Avila is the celebrated birthplace of Santa Teresa de Jesús (St. Theresa of Jesus) 1515 to 1582. Santa Teresa was born Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada, a noblewoman who became a nun at the Convento de la Concepción (Convent of the Conception) at the age of eighteen. Santa Teresa was revered for her writings, first published in 1588, and mystical visions. Ávila was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.
Segovia Castle inspired the wicked queen's castle in Disney's Snow White.
Segovia is yet another UNESCO World Heritage site. The Roman aqueduct of Segovia, probably built c. A.D. 50, is remarkably well preserved. This impressive construction, with its two tiers of arches, forms part of the setting of the magnificent historic city of Segovia. Other important monuments include the Alcázar or castle which construction was began around the 11th century. Also of world heritage value is the 16th-century Gothic cathedral andit was the last Gothic cathedral built in Spain. It is considered to be a masterpiece of Basque-Castilian Gothic architecture and is known as "The Lady of Cathedrals”.

The cloister of the Irish College in Salamanca

Ireland has links with Salamanca as it was the site of one of the famous Irish colleges on the continent. Fleeing religious persecution at home Irish seminarians were forced to travel to the continent for their religious training. Salalmanca was opened in 1592 and was in existence for over 360 years until it closed in 1952. The large cloistered building that housed the Irish College, Colegio Mayor Alonso de Fonseca, is now part of the city’s university, largely comprising accommodation for the huge numbers of visiting students and scholars. Salamanca’s pedestrianised old town is a Unesco World Heritage Site and it was European City of Culture in 2002, alongside Bruges.
The northern end of the old city centre is arguably where Salamanca’s most impressive attraction can be found – the magnificent Plaza Mayor. The vast square acts as a kind of luxurious open air ballroom for the city. The last tango in Budapest might continue in Salamanca!

Valle de los Caídos ("Valley of the Fallen") This controversial monument was conceived by Spanish general Francisco Franco to honour and bury those who fell during the Spanish Civil War. Franco wanted the monument to be a "national act of atonement" and reconciliation. It’s controversial for a number of reasons, not least because 10% of the construction workforce consisted of convicts, some of whom were Spanish Republican political prisoners.

Brief Itinerary
Flight from Dublin on Wednesday 7 Sep at 16:25 arriving in Madrid at 20:05. Return flight departing Madrid on Sunday 11 Sep at 21:30 arriving into Dublin at 23:10.

Three nights in Madrid followed by a Bus Tour spending Saturday night in Salamanca.

Saturday 10/Sep/2016 Depart Madrid 08:00 arrive - Salamanca 16:00
Route = Madrid > Toledo > Talavera Battlefield Monument > Salamanca Battlefield > Salamanca
Sunday 11/Sep/2016 Depart Salamanca 09:30 - Arrive Madrid Airport 18:40
Route = Salamanca > Avila > Segovia > Madrid-Barajas Airport (19:00)

All accommodation is in reasonably priced hotels. The price includes all transfers and the bus tour. Please note breakfast and meals are not included. The tour starts and ends at Dublin Airport.
Note: All of the above destinations times etc. are subject to change.
Booking Details

Deposit €150
Balance €299 due end of July or early August
Total for 4 nights inc. flights, transfers, bus tour and accommodation is €449. (Approx.)

Deposits are used to pay for the flights and are non-refundable once the flights have been booked.

The price for the trip is per person sharing as usual. You can bring a friend to share a room with or you can agree to share with another traveller. Single rooms are available and a single supplement which has yet to be determined is usually about €150. The supplement is necessary because most hotels sell accommodation by the room and single persons pay the same price for the room as two people. Furthermore many hotels, especially city centre hotels do not have the quantity of rooms available for single accommodation for a big group like ours. So singles can be accommodated but may it be in another hotel close by.

Places are limited and we agreed that deposits are due at our next talk on Thursday 21st April. However, some people have already sent deposits to Dick O’Hanlon so by the time of our next talk, we might be booked out. If you want to book a place your best bet is to contact and ask him to reserve a place for you and send on a deposit as soon as you can. Send cheques to Dick O’Hanlon, Cois na Coille, Merlin Park Lane, Galway. 087-9600914 Please make cheques out in the name of Renmore History Society

Looking forward to having you on the trip.
Eugene Jordan
Travel and Tours Officer.