MSA Post-Congress Tour




Northern Portugal and Galicia






Five days and four nights, June 3 – 7, 2007












Day 1. Early morning departure from Evora for Guimarães.

Visit Tomar and the Knights Templar Castle and Convento de Cristo. At the apex of the Reconquest in the 12th century, Tomar stood on the boarder of the Christian and Moorish territories. The military order of the Knights Templars, founded in Jerusalem in 1119, built a convent-fortress in 1162. While modifications were made to the Templar complex into the 17th century, much of the original structure survives. The nucleus of the monastery is the Charola, built in the 12th century. It is based on the Rotunda of Jerusalem’s Holy Sepulchre with a central octagon of altars. In 1356 Tomar became the headquarters of the Templars in Portugal. Prince Henry the Navigator, who became Grand Master of the Order in 1418, added additional cloisters. In the 16th century, Joao III (1521-27) commissioned the construction of the Great Cloister which reflected the influence of the Italian Renaissance.





Visit Batalha, home of Portugal’s most magnificent church. The church and monastery of Batalha were built to celebrate Portugal’s unexpected and spectacular victory over Spain at Aljubarrota in 1385 which preserved the political independence of Portugal. King João I vowed he would build a magnificent church if he were victorious. The construction of the Gothic church commenced in 1388 and continued for 145 years. In front of the church is a magnificent equestrian statue of Nuno Alvares Pereira, the youthful commander who led the Portuguese to this stunning victory.








Overnight in Guimarães.
Guimarães is the birthplace of the Kingdom of Portugal. Alfonso-Henriques was born in the castle in 1110 and declared himself king in 1139. In the 10th century Guimarães was little more than a monastery and defensive fortification. In 1095 Alfonso VI of Castile-Leon gave the County of Portocale to his daughter Teresa, and her husband Henry of Burgundy who enlarged the castle into a major fortification. There is a small Romanesque Church in front of the castle where it is said Alfonso Henrique was baptized. Also of interest is the 16th century Ducal Palace, which was reconstructed in the 1930’s by Salazar and became one of his favorite residences.









Day 2. Depart Guimarães for Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (Northern Spain) at 7:30.


Lunch and afternoon in Santiago de Compostela.

Following the Moorish invasion and conquest of 711, a handful of Christians unwilling to submit to the Moors retreated to the north of the Peninsula. One result was the emergence of the Kingdom of Asturias. One of the architects of Asturias was Alfonso II  (791-842). During Alfonso’s reign, an event of extraordinary consequence took place: the discovery of a tomb purported to be that of the Apostle, St. James the Elder. The details of the event were not recorded until the late 11th century. The story is as follows: In the early 9th century, a hermit heard angles singing and saw bright lights illuminating from where the Apostle was buried. He informed the Bishop, who upon investigation discovered the tomb and declared it to be that of the Apostle. A church was erected on the site, which came to be known as Campus stellarum, the field of stars, or Santiago de Compostela. The shrine of St. James became one of Christendom's great centers of pilgrimage. The town has undergone many vicissitudes over the centuries, being destroyed by the Vikings in 968, and again by Al-Manzur in 997 (who also carried the church bells back to Cordoba where they remained for centuries). Nevertheless, St. James became the patron saint of the Reconquest. The main attraction of Compostela is the Cathedral. While the original Romanesque interior has been well preserved, the Spanish Baroque facade and towers were added in the 18th century.

Overnight in Santiago.


Day 3. Depart Santiago for Coimbra via Braga.

Visit the ancient city of Braga, named for the Celtic tribe Bracari and called Bracara Augusta by the Romans. Visit the historic section of town. A major religious center in the 12th century, Braga is the home to many interesting churches, including its 12th century cathedral with a 15th century facade.


Overnight in Coimbra.

Day 4.
Situated on a hillside on the banks of the Mondego River, Coimbra is Portugal’s third largest city and was the country’s first capital. The tall towers of its medieval university, which has long dominated the intellectual life of Portugal, overlook the town. The most fascinating part of the University is that portion which occupies what remains of the old royal residence, which King João III turned over to the University in 1537. There are many impressive buildings to see on campus, but the most impressive is the Biblioteca Joanina built during the reign of King João V in 1724. We will also visit the old Romanesque Cathedral, which dates from 1140.


Morning visit to Conimbriga, one of the most impressive ruins found in the Iberian Peninsula. Particularly impressive are the well-preserved mosaic floors. The site was occupied in the Iron Age by Celts, but what we see today are preserved ruins of a Roman town founded in the 1st century.



Depart at noon for Obidos via Alcobaça.

Visit Alcobaça. The sight of its magnificent Cistercian Abbey, the Mosteiro de Santa Maria de Alcobaça, dominates the small town of Alcobaça (at the confluence of the Alcoa and Baca Rivers). Portugal’s first king, Alfonso Henriques is believed to have vowed that he would found a monastery if he captured the strategic city of Santarém from the Moors. He fulfilled his vow and construction of the great church began in 1153 and continued until 1253. It stands today as Portugal’s largest church. The Baroque facade was added in the 17th and 18th centuries. King Dinis added the main cloister in the early 14th Century. While the interior is in the typical austere style of the Cistercians, there are a number of beautiful examples of sculpture, including the 14th century tombs of King Pedro I and Inês De Castro.






Overnight Obidos.

Day 5.
Morning in Obidos. The enchanting town of Obidos is filled with whitewashed houses and surrounded by a 14th-century wall. Once a coastal town, the lagoon has silted-up over the centuries and Obidos now rests six miles from the sea. Much of the fame of the town dates to the reign of King Denis. In 1248 he visited the town with his young bride Isabel who was so enamored with the town that he gave it to her as a wedding present. Future Portuguese monarchs continued that tradition until the end of the monarchy in 1833. The town is dominated by the beautiful castle, which was converted to a pousada, (a state run hotel) in 1950. Obidos was also the home of one of Portugal’s most eminent artists, Josefa de Obidos. Born in Sevilla, she came to Obidos early and remained until her death in 1684. Some of her paintings can be found in the Church of Santa Maria.

Depart at noon for Sintra. Sintra’s stunning setting made it a favorite retreat for the Portuguese Kings. The two major attractions of the town, in addition to its natural beauty, are two amazing castles. The Palácio National de Sintra, built in the 14th century by João I with additions by Manuel I in the early 16th century and the Disneyesque Palácio da Pena, built in the 19th century by Maria II for her German husband.


Late afternoon arrival in Lisbon where tour terminates.

PAYMENT SCHEDULE: $575 per person based on double occupancy (single room supplement $175). Please make all checks payable to Mediterranean Studies Association; you may also charge your credit card (see below).
Deposit:  $100 due now ($200 deposit if today's date is after March 1)
2nd deposit:  $100 due on March 1
Balance due by April 15, 2007 

With increasing costs and weakening dollar, it has been necessary for the MSA to increase the cost of the tour this year. For the five full day and four night tour the price is $575.00 (based on double occupancy; single supplement $175). However, to encourage early registration we are offering a discounted price of $499.00 for those who register and pay in full by check no later that February 1.

This includes luxury coach, hotel room (4 nights), breakfast.
This does not include meals (other than those noted above), tips for guides and driver, entrance fees to sites, spending money, hotel incidentals.

To register for the tour
CLICK HERE for the online form.

CLICK HERE for a form you can print out.

Responsibility: Mediterranean Studies Association and other participating organizations act solely as agents in arranging transportation, hotel accommodations, and other services. We do not assume, and in fact, we expressly disclaim, any liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, or delay due to any act, negligence or default of the tour guide or any company or person engaged in transporting the passengers or rendering any service, or carrying out the arrangements for any tour, or their agents, servants and employees.
Guarantee & Rate: Once we have received your full payment, your rate is secure. However, in the event of increases in operating costs, tariffs, or taxes prior to your departure date we reserve the right to add a surcharge. You would be notified prior to travel.
Insurance: Trip cancellation insurance for medical reasons is highly recommended.
Cancellation Policy: Cancellations are effective on date received in writing. Full refund (minus a $75 administration fee) will be made for cancellations up to 91 days prior to departure. After that period, additional cancellation fees will be assessed as follows:
– 90-61 days prior to departure – Loss of deposit
– 60-45 days prior to departure - 35% of total tour price
– 44-31 days prior to departure - 50% of total tour price
– 30-0 days prior to departure - 100% of total tour price
Please note: Any unused tour portions are non-refundable. Claims for a refund must be sent in writing within 30 days of completion of tour.

Questions: e-mail: or telephone: 508-999-8022.