Category: Small Group Discoveries

The Seductions of Iberia

“Seductive” may well be the best way to describe the rich and vibrant cultures of Spain and Portugal. Sultry music, mouthwatering foods, ruby-red and bubbling wines, and architectural wonders that stir the soul provide a provocative glimpse of the passions of the Iberian people. Join us, and give in to the seduction when you sample these cultural touchstones:

Spanish Genius

If Spanish artists have proven one thing over the centuries, it is this: Great art breaks convention. It speaks out against the establishment and turns on its head the mainstream notions of self-expression. Here are six ingenious Spanish artists that define six crucial periods in art history, and six remarkable eras in their country’s past. All these artists—with the exception of Gaudi—are represented in El Prado, Madrid’s repository of art.

Toro! A Brief History of Bullfighting

To Spaniards, it may well be the greatest show on earth: The matador strides into the ring, dressed in the traditional traje de luces, or suit of light. His sequined buttons and cuffs glint in […]

The Courage of Sailors, the Growth of Empires

Historically speaking, the Iberian Peninsula has been the rudder to Europe’s leviathan. In fact, the tiny country of Portugal ruled the first global empire in history, with colonies stretching as far east as today’s China and as far west as Brazil. The Spanish Empire grew to gain an even broader reach—from today’s California in the west to Indonesia in the east—and has left a cultural and linguistic legacy unrivaled by any other country. How did these two nations expand their reach to the farthest reaches of the earth? One word: Spice.

Albania’s Legend of Skanderburg

In Albania, hearts swell with national pride at the mere mention of his name. Born George Castriot into a noble family, the man who would famously go down in history as Skanderbeg led an anti-Ottoman rebellion that planted the seeds of cultural identity for Albania and Macedonia.

Romania’s Remarkable Storybook Castle

In the 1870s, when King Carol I of Romania traveled outside Sinaia and saw the rolling and rugged hills of the magnificent Carpathian Mountains, he knew this was the place to build his castle. His Majesty certainly had a good eye for settings; his remarkable home is nestled quietly on a gentle slope, yet it also strikes a commanding pose, seeming to lord over the sweeping cradle in which it is swaddled.

This is Macedonia; Astounding Nature, Enriching Culture and Incredible History

With its secluded location north of Greece, east of Albania, and west of Bulgaria, Macedonia boasts a rich and enduring culture that has been shaped and, yes, sometimes tested, by its geography and its history.

The Rise of Bucharest, Romania’s Gem

You might be forgiven if you confuse Bucharest, Romania and Budapest, Hungary. But probably not by the locals

Treasures of the Caucasus

Dramatic mountains, centuries-old monasteries, astonishing stonework architecture, and ancient vineyards may sound like the dreamy ingredients of a European country long on your bucket list. But point your compass eastward, past the minarets of Turkey […]

Armenia’s Artistic Beauty Etched in Stone

An Armenian folktale goes like this: The invading army of Timur of the Timurid Dynasty appeared on the horizon close to the Noratus Cemetery near Lake Sevan. Upon seeing the oncoming troops, villagers set to […]