Castilla y León: Language, Culture, and Civilization | Spain

More photos from this program can be found here.

“En España, los muertos están más vivos que los muertos de cualquier otro país del mundo.”

“In Spain, the dead are more alive than the dead of any other country in the world.”

-Federico Garcia Lorca

Immerse yourself in Spanish Culture in the heart of Spain with a 6 or 10-week immersion.  Ten week Options include a service component to develop leadership skills in the local community.

Modern day Spanish culture results from an intricate interweaving of histories.  Through the millennia, the Iberian Peninsula has been occupied, in turn, by Celts, Visigoths, Romans and Moors. Each of these cultures has left their mark on the language, religion, food, art and the architecture of this storied land.  This course will introduce students to the heart of Spanish culture through an exploration of the wind-swept plains and cities of the region of Castilla y León.  Our studies will be centered in the most Romanesque city in Europe, the city of Zamora. The rocky outcropping that this city is built on, along the banks of the river Duero, has been strategically important since prehistoric times.  Zamora’s small size belies the important role it has played in Spanish history.  The first known settlements in this area were established by Celtic tribes in the first millennium B.C. Later, under Roman rule, this region was a key part of the route used to transport silver and gold out of Spain. The name of the city itself, “Zamora“, is believed to be of Arabic origin, from the time of Moorish rule, and refers to the wild olive groves that dotted the area. The city was fiercely contested in battles between Christian and Muslim Spain. Our journey will begin with an investigation of the prehistoric culture of the Iberian Peninsula, examining some of the early artwork and tools found in this region.  We will proceed to follow the scattered traces left by the earliest Spaniards– the Iberians and the Celts.  We will travel throughout Castilla y León to visit Celtic dolmens, Roman aqueducts, Visigoth villages, Gothic cathedrals and medieval castles.  We will learn about Spain from its prehistory through medieval times and into the Modern era. 

Our home base will be the city of Zamora, a living museum of Romanesque, Gothic, Moorish, Renaissance and Baroque monuments. Students will have a home stay with a local family and will be assigned a native “Zamorano” partner with whom they will practice the language and learn about Castilian life. The schedule allows time for students to explore present-day Spain, through its food, its festivals, its sports, and its people. 

About Zamora:

Zamora is situated at 2,139 feet in the heart of the province of Castilla y León. It lies near the border of Portugal and is crossed by the river Duero. It is famous as a city that is hard to conquer. The Spanish adage:  “No se ganó Zamora en una hora” (Zamora was not seized in an hour) is used throughout Spain to indicate that perseverance is key to life.  The city is home to numerous architectural treasures, from the ancient walls that surround the city, to its myriad Romanesque churches.  Zamoranos, are friendly and eager to share their rich history with visitors.  The river Duero runs through the city and is enjoyed by kayakers and rowers. The city runs a kayak program that offers classes and rentals at a very modest rate. Marathons and triathlons are frequent as the locals are active and healthy. There are bike paths that traverse the city and lead to nearby pueblos.  Bike rentals are available through private companies or from the citywide bike loaner program that is available to both visitors and locals. Our studies will include visits to the cities of Bragança, Portugal, Salamanca, Toro, Puebla de Sanabria, Segovia, Arribes del Duero, and a kayaking trip along the Duero with lunch in Miranda do Douro, Portugal.  You will also get to do many hands on activities: learn to dance traditional dances, make traditional pottery in a workshop in Pereruela, cook Castilian food, dine in one of the famous “bodegas” of El Perdigón and much more.

 Excursions may include:

  • Bragança, Portugal
  • Segovia
  • Salamanca
  • Puebla de Sanabria y Lago de Sanabria
  • Toro
  • Pereruela y Arribes del Duero
  • Fermoselle
  • Toledo
  • Morales del vino—Artisan cheese factory

Program Dates:

  • 6 weeks: June 23, 2018 – August 4, 2018
  • 4-week extension: August 6 – September 1, 2018



Housing / Accommodation

On Site Support