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  • Locations: Avila, Spain; Burgos, Spain; Guadarrama, Spain; Madrid, Spain; Salamanca, Spain; Segovia, Spain; Toledo, Spain; Valladolid, Spain
  • Program Terms: May Term
  • Budget Sheets: May Term
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Fact Sheet:
Minimum GPA: 2.7 Housing Options: Homestay, Hostel/Hotel
Area of Study: European Studies, History, Iberian Studies, Modern Languages & Literature, Spanish Language of Instruction: Spanish
Class Status: 1-First Year, 2-Sophomore, 3-Junior, 4-Senior, 5-Graduate Student, 6-Other Program Type: Faculty-Led, Study Abroad
Program Description:

Monarchs, Heroes, & Myths: The Formation of Spain as a Nation

Segovia Air View Aqueduct

Program Overview

Spain is best described as a vibrant country where tradition lives side by side with 21st century technology. But how did it all begin? This course, taught in Spanish, will explore how Spain, one of Europe´s oldest cultures that has influenced entire continents, formed as a nation. Students will visit the birthplace of Castilian Spanish, one of the most widely spoken languages in the world today.

This trip traverses central Spain, Castilla la Vieja, where participants will visit castles, museums, monasteries and cathedrals to explore the historical places where Castile originated as a kingdom in the Middle Ages. In its monasteries, some monks wrote the first glosas (glossaries) in ancient Castilian more than a thousand years ago. At Santo Domingo de Silos, students will have a unique opportunity to listen to medieval chanting by the Benedictine monks.

Course Content

Monasterio de Silos


With the city of Salamanca, best known for its Plateresque architecture, as a base, students will engage in the surrounding regions of Burgos, Valladolid, Ávila, Segovia, El Escorial, Madrid and Toledo.  In Salamanca, students will experience the Spanish lifestyle by living with a local host family. Among other activities, we will dine out while enjoying a serenade by the Tuna of the University of Salamanca and will have the opportunity to go horseback riding in the countryside.


In Burgos the group will travel in the area of the Camino de Santiago, one of the most renowned pilgrimage paths in the world. Also in Burgos, students will visit the magnificent cathedral where El Cid, the national hero, is buried. Valladolid houses the castle of La Mota, where the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella got married and united their kingdoms thus forming the core of Spain as a nation-state. In that same city, students will see Cervantes´ house, the room where Christopher Columbus spent his last days and the Museo de San Pablo, a jewel of polychromatic sculpture.


In Toledo, students will have the chance to visit monuments that bear witness to the the many cultures that lived together for centuries and helped form the character of Spain: Christian Visigoths, Muslims and Sephardic Jews. Among other places, students will visit the Gothic Cathedral, a true masterpiece; the 12th century Synagogue Santa María la Blanca, a unique mudéjar style monument and El Greco´s house.

La Tuna de SalamancaSegovia & Ávila

On the way to Segovia, the group will stop by to walk around the medieval walls of Ávila, among the best preserved in Europe. Segovia will give participants the chance to see 2,000 years of history within one small town: a 15-kilometer Roman aqueduct built in the 1st century CE, during the reign of Trajan; a Moorish Alcazar turned into Castle by the Trastámara royal family and the summer palace of the  Borbón family in La Granja de San Ildefonso. The Baroque style palace of La Granja was built in the 1720´s by the first Borbón king of Spain, Philip V, following the style of Versailles. The contrast between the two dynasties, Habsburg and Borbón will be very noticeable after visiting both El Escorial and La Granja.

Segovia AlcazarMadrid & Guadarrama

In the mountains of Guadarrama, outside Madrid, students will enjoy a day in the Palace and Monastery of El Escorial, built by Philip II, which became one the the largest religious and political establishments in the world, center of the Spanish empire of the 16th century and symbol of the centralization of power. The Herreran style monument, austere beyond anything the Italian Renaissance ever envisioned, was the headquarters from which the Spanish Habsburg monarchy aspired to reign over its vast empire in Europe, America and Asia. The complex houses a tomb fit for kings, and a large collection of manuscripts, many of them illuminated.

Madrid has the milla de oro (gold mile) of museums: the Prado, the Reina Sofía and the Thyssen-Bornemisza all around the beautiful Parque del Retiro, the biggest park of the city. Students will also go to the Royal Palace and the center of the capital called el Madrid de los Austria.

NOTE: Upon arrival, students will receive reading material that will provide the historical, political and social background to understand and appreciate all the sites. Students will also receive a total of 24 hours of lectures during the course of the program by an expert in Spain´s Medieval, Renaissance and Early Modern history.

Faculty Director

Carmen Ferrero

Program Details

Escorial Biblioteca
Program Dates: May 13-27, 2018

Credit: 1 Unit (4 credits) towards a Spanish major or minor. It can also be taken as an elective.

Prerequisites:  SPAN 105 or its equivalent (This course is taught in Spanish).

Cost: $2,900 + airfare and fees (includes: tuition, in-country transportation, housing, and some meals)

Application Deadline: February 16, 2018

Spain Program Director: Carmen Ferrero (Associate Professor, Spanish)

More Information: Contact program director at

Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.

This program is currently not accepting applications.