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Decorative Arts of Iberia, April 2024

The Decorative Arts of Iberia HALI Tour in association with Martin Randall Travel takes place 8–20 April 2024. The 13-day cultural tour offers expert guidance and exclusive access to some of the most beautiful and important art, carpets, textiles and architecture in Spain and Portugal. Read more by scrolling down and view the programme here. 


The tour leader is Gijs van Hensbergen, art historian and author specialising in Spain. Accommodation is provided in carefully-selected 4- and 5-star accommodation throughout. Booking is open now via the Martin Randall Travel website. For further information, please contact [email protected]. 


Day 1, Mughal carpet fragment, Kashmir or Lahore, India, circa 1650, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon T060


Day 3, Museo Arqueológico, Madrid


During the late Middle Ages, Renaissance and the mythic Golden Age, Spain and Portugal spent almost one tenth of their national wealth on architectural extravagances and the decorative arts. Despite the ravages of wars and internal turmoil, the region still houses a treasure trove of glorious masterpieces. Having divided world trade in 1494 at the Treaty of Tordesillas, the two countries became Europe’s front door to the Indies and the New World. The European Catholic heritage is vividly expressed through many of the Flemish and Spanish tapestries to be seen during the tour (the Netherlands were once part of the Spanish realm). In addition, Spain and Portugal share a rich history of sophisticated Islamic influence. This is seen in a wealth of fabulous Hispano-Moresque silk textiles and woollen carpets. 


Day 6, Destrucción de Troya (detail) from The Conquest of Arzila and Tangier tapestry series, Colegiata, Pastrana


Day 7, Toledo


Madrid’s Instituto Valencia de Don Juan houses 15th-century ‘Admiral’ carpets, made by Muslim weavers for high officials of the Spanish state and a magnificent—recently cleaned—16th-century ‘Sanguszko’ medallion carpet as well as an impressive collection of ceramics and other decorative arts. Then there are the rare textile relics of the final years of Nasrid domination of the Iberian Peninsula preserved in Spanish Church treasuries. In Portugal we find important classical carpets collected by the Armenian entrepreneur and philanthropist Calouste Gulbenkian, including a Safavid grotesque carpet and a Mughal pashmina carpet. 


Day 9, Burgos Cathedral


Day 10, Embroidery fragment (detail), 10th–11th century, Monasterio de San Salvador de Oña, copyright Junta de Castilla y León. Centro de Conservación y Restauración de Bienes Culturales


What sets the Decorative Arts of Iberia apart is its focus on works that should be far better known. In Madrid’s Museo Lazaro Galdiano sits the bronze feline jug from the legendary kingdom of Tartassus. In Pastrana in Quixote’s La Mancha we will encounter the greatest Gothic tapestries, depicting Alfonso V of Portugal’s sacking of Tangiers. From majolica to Meissen, from La Granja glass to the great gazelle vases manufactured for the Nasrid Alhambra, this HALI Tour offers access to a cornucopia of treasures that is the envy of the world, an includes special visits to museum store rooms, workshops, monasteries and institutions not normally accessible to the public. 


Day 12, La Granja gardens


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